Fiend without a Face (1957)

TOMATOMETER

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Fiend without a Face Photos

Movie Info

This sci-fi horror cult classic is based in and around a U.S. long-range radar installation in the Canadian wilderness, where soldiers and civilians alike are being struck dead by an unseen force. At first, the base commander believes these murders may have been the work of spies operating out of the woods -- a theory supported by unexplained fluctuations in power output from the base's nuclear plant. Because of the proximity of this reactor, residents of the nearby town begin to suspect the deaths are due to a radiation leak. The real answer turns out to be far more insidious. Autopsies reveal that the victims' spinal fluids have been sucked dry through holes at the base of their skulls. The bizarre murders are eventually linked to the work of psychic researcher Professor Walgate (Kynaston Reeves), whose experiments materializing human thoughts have not only been causing the power fluctuations, but have resulted in the creation of invisible brain-monsters. When the creatures attack the plant operators, a massive surge of radiation is released, revealing the creatures in all their hideous glory -- depicted by marvelous stop-motion animation -- as leaping, tentacled brains with wriggling antennae. This leads to the film's notoriously gory final act, in which the brain-things surround our heroes in a mountain cabin, descending in droves as the dwindling band of survivors hack, chop, and blast away at the beasts. After a slightly sluggish start, this intelligent and well-crafted thriller kicks out all the jams for a horrific climax, distinguished by some of the goriest effects seen in any film from the 1950s. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi
Rating:
NR
Genre:
Art House & International , Classics , Cult Movies , Horror , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
MGM

Cast

Marshall Thompson
as Maj. Jeff Cummings
Terry Kilburn
as Capt. Chester
Michael Balfour
as Sgt. Kasper
Gil Winfield
as Dr. Warren
Kynaston Reeves
as Prof. Walgate
James Dyrenforth
as Mayor Hawkins
Kim Parker
as Barbara Grizell
Peter Madden
as Dr. Bradley
R. Meadows White
as Ben Adams
Robert MacKenzie
as Const. Gibbons
Launce Maraschal
as Melville
Stanley Maxted
as Col. Butler
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Fiend without a Face

All Critics (12)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

October 30, 2001
AV Club
Top Critic

As far as mad scientist byproducts go, they're a juggernaut.

Full Review… | October 15, 2011
Suite101.com

A cinematic bad trip of the highest order.

Full Review… | April 12, 2010
SFX Magazine

And honestly, how much animus should any percipient genre enthusiast ever direct at a movie bearing the tagline, 'Invisible monsters suck out your brains!'?

Full Review… | May 31, 2006
DVDJournal.com

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | May 25, 2006
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for Fiend without a Face

½

Overall, Fiend without a Face works as a 50s science fiction film that at times may be a little cheesy or far stretched, works. For the time, and on a tiny budget, it is a successful creature film with some amazing stop animation. If you're into older sci-fi, you'll find yourself eating this up.

Chris Browning
Chris Browning

Super Reviewer

½

Campy, classic science fiction from 1957 (the year that also gave us The Deadly Mantis, Attack of the Crab Monsters and The Brain From Planet Arous).

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

I walked into Fiend Without a Face somewhat cold. I halfway expected a plot involving evil brains of some sort, and I got exactly that. I'm not like most people in that I try not to read as much as I can about what a film is going to be about before I see it. Walking in cold gives me the most honest reaction, without any preconceived notions or having my hopes dashed when it sounds great only to find it to turn out to be terrible. Well, this movie isn't terrible, but it's not great either. However, I do find it fascinating that it's actually a British production, set in Canada with mostly American and Canadian actors, but all shot in England. I also find it intriguing that people were actually frightened by flying brains on mostly visible wires. I'm not detracting from the film because effects like this weren't easy (the stop motion stuff was actually very good), but I wonder just how well that stood out to audiences in 1957? Its real shortcomings are in the face that it's laborously paced and contains far too much plot and not enough character. It also spends most of its time spewing exposition. The one scene that was at least halfway effective is when Jeff is locked in a crypt... only to be released several hours later. It starts out rather creepy, but ultimately goes nowhere, and the explanation for why he was locked in the crypt in the first place is absurd. So yeah, the movie certainly won't win you over with a fantastic script, plot or dynamite performances, but its ridiculousness and setting you should find intriguing enough to warrant seeing it.

Tim Salmons
Tim Salmons

Super Reviewer

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