Fiend Without a Face [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1958]

The disc for this fast-paced B-film is full of excellent features. The transfer itself is presented in widescreen (anamorphic) with an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. The sound is in Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono) and English subtitles are available. There are some minor signs of age, but basically this is a great print with very good contrast. A commentary track is available, which features an interview by Tom Weaver with the executive producer Richard Gordon. Though not screen-specific, they both cover numerous topics including how the original story was financed and the history of the production company that made the film. Gordon can be a little dry at times, but this track is very detailed and informative. From the animated main menu there are several excellent supplements to choose from. The "Mad Science Spawns Evil Fiends" section features "Exploited!" -- a slide show of promo stills and ads with commentary by Weaver and Gordon and "It Came From...," an illustrated essay on U.K. horror/science fiction written by Bruce Eder. There are also eight lobby cards for the film. The last feature is a section containing trailers for Fiend Without a Face, The Haunted Strangler, Corridors of Blood, First Man into Space, and The Atomic Submarine. This is an excellent package from The Criterion Collection.
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Overview

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Special Features

  • Widescreen transfer, with digital picture restoration and enhanced for 16x9 televisions
  • Audio commentary with executive producer Richard Gordon and genre film writer Tom Weaver
  • Illustrated essay on British sci-fi/horror filmmaking by film historian Bruce Eder
  • Trailers from Gordon Films: "Fiend Without a Face," "The Haunted Strangler," "Corridors of Blood," "First Man Into Space," and "The Atomic Submarine"
  • Rare still photographs and ephemera, with commentary
  • Vintage advertisements and lobby cards
  • English subtitles

Synopsis

Fiend Without a Face
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

Cast & Crew

  • Image coming soon
    Kynaston Reeves - Prof. Walgate
  • Marshall Thompson
    Marshall Thompson - Maj. Jeff Cummings
  • Terry Kilburn
    Terry Kilburn - Capt. Chester
  • Michael Balfour
    Michael Balfour - Sgt. Kasper
  • Image coming soon
    Shane Cordell - Nurse

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