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Fiend Without a Face
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Product Description

Fiend Without a Face contains one of the most indelible images to emerge from sci-fi/horror movies of the atomic age: malevolent human brains, creeping like caterpillars on spinal-cord tails, choking the life out of their helpless victims! If that weren't enough to make any genre enthusiast drool with sick delight, the movie's also got an above-average plot (as B-movies go) and made genre history as an international success, independently produced in England, set in Canada, starring an American (Marshall Thompson), with magnificently grotesque special effects created in Germany!

The mystery begins near an American Air Force base in Manitoba, where unexplainable deaths are somehow connected to the base's atomic reactor, which is being used to power an experiment in advanced long-distance radar. Thompson (who later starred in the TV series Daktari) plays Major Cummings, who discovers that the lethal monsters--slurping, unseen "mental vampires"--are actually the horrific byproduct of thought-control experiments conducted by hapless, retired professor (echoes of Forbidden Planet's "monster from the Id"). Once visible, the fiendish brains are everywhere, attacking our heroes from every angle (in a scene that may have inspired Night of the Living Dead), and sputtering puddles of blood when riddled by bullets. This climactic scene--a triumph of latex rubber fiends, eerie sound effects, and stop-motion animation--was a gory breakthrough in 1958, and it's still a worthy precursor to every gross-out monster movie that followed in its trendsetting wake. Beware the faceless fiends! --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews:

  • Great movie - scary brain monsters attack !
    A favorite 50s B movie about invisible Brains and Spinal Cords that choke its victims. Marshall Thompson is the hero. The monsters do not appear until the end, so the suspense of unseen monster is there. If they were shown any sooner, the movie would have lost its creepy feel. When they do appear the SPFX are great for their day. The brain designs are fantastic ! And its gory when the brains are shot at ,etc. If you are someone who likes 50s B monster movies, this is above a lot of them. The Criterion DVD is just a beautiful transfer & is easily worth owning. A great movie with a great transfer. I wish they would lower their prices, but the transfers are splendid. Highly recommended...more info
  • The flight of the brains
    I remember years ago when I saw this as a child, this movie completely freaked me out and scared me so much. For years I didn't know the name of it, and I never saw it again even though I faithfully watched "The Creature Feature" each Saturday night through my growing years. Recently I decided it would be fun to collect the classic sci-fi 'monster' movies and I thought of this one. Google is awesome, as that's how I found it. Overall, the movie isn't exactly one that will put you on the edge of your seat, (unless you're under the age of 10) but there is charm to this and all these classics. The scientist in the movie, of course, creates something he wishes he hadn't, and all chaos breaks out after that. The typical male hero comes in to rescue the day, and falls in love with some gal who is the helpless victim. The "creature" (aka the flying brains) is great once you can finally see it. Gotta love those swishing tails / spinal cords. I did about crack up hearing the noise they make when they shoot them. They sputter and sound a lot like an old Model T engine that can't get going. Overall, I enjoyed the movie as I do all those old black and white "monster" movies. The part I love the best is there's no cuss words, no nude scenes, etc. - just good guys fighting (and always winning) against evil. If you're collecting these kinds of movies, you have to add this one to your collection. With all the "monsters" that were created back in the 50's horror/monster movies, there are no other movies with flying brains in it that's for sure!
    ...more info
    Director Arthur Crabtree's FIEND WITHOUT A FACE is a real cult movie that has just entered the Criterion collection. As to THE CARNIVAL OF SOULS, a few weeks ago, Criterion does justice once again to a cinema that, for most of us, was the only interesting cinema in our teen days. How many of us have been introduced to movies thanks to such films as Terence Fisher's HORROR OF DRACULA, Fred Mc Leod Wilcox's FORBIDDEN PLANET or precisely FIEND WITHOUT A FACE ? Of course, a few years later, we discovered that cinema was also a thinking person's occupation and enjoyed Fellini, Godard and John Ford. But I still keep in my heart a guilty predilection for this B cinema often produced with peanuts but always hiding unvaluable pearls for the movie lover.

    The actors playing in FIEND WITHOUT A FACE are excellent considering the text they have to tell and the tremendous resemblance between the leading character Marshall Thompson and Glenn Ford adds to our pleasure. Furthermore , cinematography, editing and special effects are really above-average for this kind of production.

    The copy is gorgeous and the commentary of the producer of THE FIEND WITHOUT A FACE a source of countless accurate informations for someone interested in movie production. An essay about science-fiction in movies, dozens of posters and five trailers of very rare B-movies (at least, for an european viewer) complete this Criterion DVD presentation.

    A DVD zone nostalgic ones....more info

  • Fifties SCI-FI at its very best
    What a trully fantastic little movie this is, a real SPFX shocker in its day, and a great story with some fantastic character acting. TV in the UK used to show this a lot in the 1980's but it has been missing for a few years, and it is one of my faves, so now thanks to the team at Criterion I can own this peice of trully bizarre sci-fi cinema history. The extras are great and the commentary is very informative, also there is an essay a sort of potted history of UK sci-fi movies from this era. The transfer is crisp apart from a few scratches on the stock film used, particularly the old plane shots and the radar base, but this is mere trifle compared to the overall mastery involved in the plot and effects, which are for the time pretty incredible to say the least. If you want any more proof of sci-fi from the golden age being intelligent, thought provoking and damn right scary then go and buy this movie, and be very very impressed.......more info
  • Excellent transfer - mediocre film
    I had never heard of this film and seeing it as an adult mayhave taken away some of the fun of it but I fail to see the fuss orthe reason that Criterion spent their time on this. It is a standard50's B film with good acting but the story moves very slow and issilly without any fun or campiness. As for the "specialeffects", they consist of what looks like plastic brains onspinal cords photographed in stop motion. On the plus side, thetransfer is crisp and the sound is great. Extra features include aninteresting commentary from the executive producer and a gallery oflobby cards and ads. Criterion does their standard quality jobhere.... Only for die hard fans only, I'm afraid. END...more info
  • best brain monstermovie..& the name says it all...
    good original movie w/ 2 cool scenes of action and the long final 3rd of best action w/ good fx-back then-as i was a kid-it seemed almost real w/ a real affect. good story also for a creature picture. ...more info
  • fiend without a face
    This is a B-movie that was made when they were making horror films about everything. They would have to be to make a movie about creatures that are a brain and spinal cord moving around like a snake, invisible at first. But hey, this film is still alot of fun to watch and a must for any fan of horror movies of that era, don't miss it....more info
  • "Inchworm, Inchworm, Measuring the Spinal Cord..."
    Fun little 1958 shocker, whose greatest virtue is memorable special effects and a mercifully short running time.

    A U.S. air base in Canada is suffering power shortages and radar malfunctions, and commander Marshall Thompson wants to know why. The local populace are getting testy, since some of their number are suddenly losing their lives in an especially gruesome and inexplicable manner - their brains appear to have been sucked right out of their bodies. A bit of skulking detective work reveals the cause to be a local scientist, whose experiments in thought-projection have unexpectedly created an invisible monster - one that propagates itself by devouring human brains and spinal columns.

    The special effects for the monsters are great fun, once they're made visible - they're brains with antennae, attached to spinal columns whose nerve endings serve as legs, moving them along in a humping motion like inchworms. The little beasties wrap themselves around their victims' throats, puncture the base of their skulls, and...well, it's pretty nasty.

    The finale is terrific, with a besieged houseful of people fighting the horrible things off, and there's a creepy scene with a surviving victim whose I.Q. has drastically dropped and whose face has partly caved-in. It's a fairly dull plod getting to the great climactic battle, but worth the wait....more info

  • "Magnificently Grotesque"
    Jeff Shannon sums up my feelings with those 2 words, but if you enjoy reading shameless praise and rantings feel free to continue:

    This film, which I first saw when I was about 8 (back when they actually had things like triple-features in theatres), is just about the creepiest thing I've seen TO DATE. I'm not talking gore here (which it has in abundance and works great in B&W): I'm talking 'nightmare quality' story and cinematography. I saw this available in Criterion format and knew it was time to buy.

    Now you might think I'm squemish, going all sissy over a 50's B&W British horror film - almost a misnomer in and of itself!
    But I'm here to tell you I found and continue to find this film more chilling than 'Dawn of the Dead', 'Maniac', 'The Thing' (both versions) or any Lucio Fulci gorefest. Why?
    Everything was just right, from the stop-motion of the brains slithering across the lab floor to the diharettic sounds of blood burping from thier perforated corpses. Eeeeesh. I get chills just thinking about it.

    Not that it will stop me from watching it again this weekend......more info

  • Another great DVD by Criterion.
    Not the greatest movie of all time. We're talking about radioactive brain eating brains propelled by spinal cord tails here, but at 74 minutes you're not gonna get bored. Thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end.

    As usual, Criterion has done a great job: beautiful print, great extras, stylish packaging. I just wish they would put out more of the older American classics. A THIN MAN box set or a Preston Sturges box set would be a great start....more info
  • ...... never sounded so good
    What really gets me about Fiend without a Face is the sound. The sound of the titular fiends sucking out the brains and spinal cords of their victims is delightfully disgusting. The picture quality is not quite up to the standard of The Blob, but you know Criterion did the best they could. Someone else mentioned The Haunting. I'd like to add to my Criterion Wish List another seminal, overlooked, and long out-of-print on VHS classic, I Married a Monster from Outer Space....more info
    This movie scared the hell out of me when I was at home one day watching tv by myself as a young boy! At the same time, I was too compelled to see the outcome to change the channel. Could have sworn the fiends were in the house with me! At any rate, Criterion done a fine job, as always, on the release. The price is a little steep, but the picture is a whole lot cleaner than the old VHS copy I owned, and the sound is really clear. There are some real nice extras, also....more info
  • a cool film, original plot, good effects
    This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

    In this film, invisible monsters (which later become visible) shaped like human brains, are attacking people on and near an American military base in a rural area of Manitoba, Canada. The deaths are initially blamed on radition from the power reactor on the base but when an autopsy reveals the brain and spinal cords are missing from the victims, they look elsewhere.

    The film, made entirely in the UK, looks convincingly like North America. The special effects, made with stop-motion photography are well done and the acting is also typical on 50's B horror flicks.

    The Criterion DVD has plenty of special features. There is a theatrical trailer for the film plus four other films. "First Man into Space" "Haunted Strangler" "Corridors of Blood" and "Atomic Submarine." There are also images of lobby cards and newspaper ads for the film, an essay by Bruce Eder prodution photos, and a feature length conversation/commentary by Tom Weaver and the film's executive producer Richard Gordon....more info

  • Brain Damage...
    At an american airbase in canada, we're busily spying on the russians with our latest atomic-powered radar system. All is well, that is until the local townsfolk start dying! They're not just dropping dead mind you, these people are having their brains and spinal cords sucked out through small holes at the base of the skull like cranial milkshakes! Major Cummings (Marshall Thompson) investigates the hideous deaths, trying to prove that his fellow airmen are innocent of any wrongdoing. The invisible killers continue their rampage, stopping at nothing to secure their gooey snacks! We soon discover that these little monsters are the result of experiments in thought materialization gone wrong. This leads to the grand finale where we finally get to see the creatures. Through the magic of stop-motion, we are treated to an army of crawling brains with spinal cord tails and nerve branches for arms! Wonderful stuff, especially when they get shot and sludgey, black blood oozes forth! If you like weird monsters like I do, then you'll adore this fright feast! Buy immediately... ...more info
  • Shaky B-film from the 50s...
    Fiend Without a Face was made in the 50s when the threat of nuclear war was high and the fear of radio activity peaked. This 50s B-movie played on these fears as pseudo-science and CNS-vampires could strike fear in an audience. Presently, Fiend Without a Face can be seen as a feeble attempt to give the audience a shaky yawn. It is merely a historical monument of cinema history that offers an cinematic experience of B-film quality....more info
    Following on the heels of THE BLOB, CRITERION steps up once again and delivers. And again, like THE BLOB before it, FIEND WITHOUT A FACE, a surprising, inventive and effective film, is given the kind of treatment and attention that most movies on DVD could only hope to receive. A new widescreen transfer, and for the most part a clear and sharp image (there are artifacts throughout this film - a few at the start that betray the age of the film - but never enough, often enough, to leave you feeling cheated in any way), solid sound and a host of extra's that have become a staple with most CRITERION releases. Only draw back - no poster like THE BLOB had (shame). For me the highlight of this whole package has to be the interview/commentary with executive producer Richard Gordon, hosted by and featuring Tom Weaver - whose work on THE WOLF MAN and THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON are some of the best commentary tracks avaliable. Weaver is insightful, quick witted, sharp - he knows his background and the people who worked there - and coupled with both the film and Gordon - it's without equal. Worth the price alone - but as luck would have it you get everything else thrown in. FIEND is a excellent film. Solid, always moving forward, never a dull moment - and like THE BLOB, presents you with a compelling monster that works well both off screen as on. More than a worthy addition to your DVD library - but a must have....more info
  • A True Sc-Fi Classic!
    First off, all the stars are based on nostalgia. For me this movie was part of my childhood. Saturday night Creature Double Feature, on UHF channels (or Channel 11 out of NY City) with all the lights out! Ahh, life was good.

    For years I couldn't remember the name of this movie. Just the flying, crunching brains!

    I suggest renting this if you have never seen it. For me, I'm buying!...more info
  • One of the Best!
    Nuclear powered canabilistic vampiric brains created by a mad scientist with a babe for an assistant just waiting to be won by the wrongly accused misunderstood military commander. How can you go wrong?...more info
  • A mutant brain eating monster brain mondo cliche movie
    Forget the title, "Fiend Without a Face" is the one with the brain monsters. That is all you have to tell people for them to go, "Oh, yes! That movie! I remember that movie!" This 1958 British horror film might not be beloved, but is certainly memorable because of the stop-motion animation that is used to have the monster, which look like big brains with horns and a spinal chord tail that they use to move around and strangle their victims (these must have been partially responsible for inspiring the face-huggers from the "Alien" series). This is also one of the goriest films of that decade, which was probably a way of covering up for the fact that you had actors screaming and writhing in pain with a big fake brain monster taped to their heads sucking out their brains.

    Our tale is set at an American military base in Canada (interesting to see a British film play about American-Canadian tensions like this). The locals start dropping dead, screaming in horror, and the thinking is that it has to have something to do with the base, maybe that "atomic radar" thing they are working on, but probably just some sort of psychotic American G.I. (and this years before Vietnam, please note). But Major Jeff Cummings (Marshall Thompson), second in command at the base, has his suspicions about Professor Walgate (Kynaston Reeves), a retired expert in psychic phenomenon. But a visit to the Professor's house reveals one of those great experiments gone horribly wrong that we so often find at the heart of films like this one.

    The title "Fiend Without a Face" comes because for most of the movie the monsters are invisible (Steven Spielberg used this same approach with more success in "Jaws" and in both cases the rationale was more special effects problems that artistic sensibilities). I am not arguing this is a great horror film, but for a B-movie it does try to deliver for the final act. Yes, the killer mutant brains being invisible is problematic (a polite way of saying stupid, boys and girls), but there is something inherently appealing about the little killers once they pop up and starting hopping around in their cute little feeding frenzy. You can also have fun trying to figure out what there are more of in this film: horror movie clich¨¦s or killer brains (okay, clich¨¦s is the correct answer, but have fun counting both anyhow)....more info

  • I created a fiend!
    oh boy, is this one priceless! A christmas present from my dear old ma, i SHook my head in disbelief upon opening. This was not the lord of the rings-two towers extended version I had requested. "give it a chance" she said.
    So i put it on and to my suprise, i loved it! this isn't going to scare you. But thats ok, In fact, when the fiends became visible and attacked, i laughed myself silly! But the ideas were there. This could be re-made into a real chiller nowadays with the new technology. But it just wouldnt be the same.
    So what happens? Invisible fiends attack citizens of a small town. The bodies are found missing their brain and spinal cord. What creatures could do such a thing! Whos responsible, dammit!
    Lo, i shan't tell.
    Gore-we get old school ketchup in this one. Back in the days, i can see this could have caused some controversy. Brains get shot, brains implode. Brains melt.
    T&A- naked brains everywhere.
    So how bout the transfer? Well i never saw this on Tv or vhs so i can't say for sure how good it was but for an old black and white film, it looked unusualy clear. Some specks and film lines from time to time but overall, the print looks good.
    We even have special features on this one! someone was actualyl proud of this ditty and rightly so! We get a commentary from the producer. We also get some old ad pics and posters and some stills....more info
  • You are what you eat!
    The brains and spinal cords are being sucked out of helpless human beings by an invisible entity that seems to feed off the atomic energy generated from a military airbase. The brass is taking heat for the murders and puts dashing Major Cummings in charge of the investigation, ultimately leading him straight into the arms of Barbara, an attractive research assistant. It turns out that Barbara's boss, the semi-maniacal Professor Walgate was involved in "thought materialization" experiments designed to free thought completely from consciousness (gives freedom of thought a whole new meaning!). In order to accomplish this task, large amounts of power are needed, alas the tie-in to the military airbase. With this power, Professor Walgate began to "devise a being into which the thought once realized could enter and preserve itself for all humanity" - or at least in order to kill all humanity! Unfortunately, Walgate's success unwittingly unleashes a "fiend" or "mental vampire" that feeds off the nervous centers of those it kills. Excellent "stop-motion" special effects create truly memorable "fiends" that were literally "ahead" of their time and whose physical appearence give credence to the slogan "you are what you eat"!...more info
  • Essential horror film viewing
    This starts as a solid little b-movie programmer, with crisp direction, plotting and acting (especially by the fine Marshall Thompson), and ends with one of the most shocking special FX sequences in horror-film history. This stop-motion animation sequence, involving a gruesome fight between crawling brains and humans must be seen to be believed. Anyone who ever saw this film as a child may be permanently scarred, and all adults interested in horror sci-fi cinema should see it as well. Essential!...more info