FREAKSHOW Fiend Without A Face
Join us every Monday, as we look at a cult movie. Our film of the week this time sees killer brains on the loose!
Director: Arthur Crabtree
Cast: Marshall Thompson, Terence Kilburn, Kynaston Reeves, Michael Balfour, Kim Parker
Available on both region two and region one DVD
Do you lament the passing of the days when films had brains? Then you’ll love Fiend Without A Face – it’s got more brains than Jeffrey Dahmer’s fridge freezer.
Don’t misunderstand – it’s not that this film is really smart. It follows a very simplistic B-movie formula. The characters are all stereotypes. The hero’s a four-square airforce chap – the unfortunately-named Major Cummings (feel free to raise an eyebrow). There’s an eccentric Professor, of course… who has a pretty assistant. Naturally, she ends the film wrapped in the hero’s big strong arms.
The story is so familiar as to make your mind comfortably numb. A mysterious something is killing people by sucking out their brains. The locals (superstitious hicks, of course) blame the local airbase’s atomic reactor, muttering about radioactivity. By now you’re probably figuring that the culprit is a brain-munching beastie from the planet Zog, played by a bloke in an unconvincing rubber suit.
Wrong, sucker. The cause is the Professor’s experiments with “the materialisation of thought”, which (shades of Forbidden Planet here) have freed the power of thought to go on the rampage. Of course, these thoughts need a physical form to inhabit… You’ve guessed it. Brains! Brains attached to tail-like spinal cords! Brains that push themselves along like caterpillars! Brains with (inexplicably) eyes on stalks! Brains that can leap into the air, wrap themselves round a victim’s throat, and crush the life out of them! Hordes of brains that, in the last five minutes, hurl themselves through the boarded-up windows of a barricaded room, as the airforce guys blast them to crap with handguns! Crazy!
If ever a film’s ending alone made it worth a watch, Fiend Without A Face is it. The stop-motion effects are astonishing, making the finale one of the most gob-smacking scenes in cinema history. It’s a cinematic bad trip of the highest order. Check it out – it’ll fry your lobes.
Ian Berriman, reviews editor of SFX and cult movie nut, has watched Jess Franco’s Female Vampire four or five times, but never seen Casablanca. The nutter.
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