Fiend Without a Face (1958)

FIEND WITHOUT A FACE (1958)
Article #186 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 9-18-2001
Posting date: 2-1-2002

A scientist experimenting with telekinetic powers taps into the power from a nearby atomic plant at a military site, and ends up creating a hoard of invisible brain-sucking creatures.

There’s more than one fiend to begin with, and since they’re invisible, of course they don’t have faces. But they do become visible later on, and when they do, they still don’t have faces; they look like disembodied central nervous systems, all brain and spinal cords, and they crawl around like inchworms, or launch themselves like grasshoppers into the air in order to feed on their unsuspecting victims. The movie is a bit uneven, with more dull spots than it really should have, but there are some interesting touches to the story, such as the subplot on how the residents of the area resent the military base because the jets are upsetting the cows so they don’t give as much milk. The romance angle is dull and could have been dispensed with, but once the inchbrains become visible and surround a farmhouse, it turns into kind of a killer brain version of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (and like the zombies in that movie, they’re defeated by shooting them in the brains). There’s lots of great stop-motion work, and some of it is pretty explicit for the time, with the crawling brains expiring in disgusting piles of goo. The attacks are pretty strong stuff, too, even when the brains are still invisible; thank the foley artists who came up with some truly unsettling sound effects for these sequences.

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