Ahhh, SF B-movies from the 50's and 60's. You
either love 'em or hate 'em, and I
definitely fall into the former camp.
Made with very small budgets, tight shooting schedules and often
less than stellar cast, I love seeing what the cast and crew were able
create under those less-than-ideal conditions.
Often they're pretty horrible, but sometimes a gem would be
created. Falling in between those two
extremes is 1958's The Curse of the
Faceless Man, an obscure flick penned by Jerome
Bixby (Star Trek:TOS, The Man from Earth)
and staring a young
Richard Anderson (The Six Million Dollar
Man). While the plot has holes (to
put it mildly) director Edward L. Cahn was able to stretch his meager
create an eerie and atmospheric tale that's more enjoyable than it has
right to be.
While excavating the ancient city of Pompeii (which was famously destroyed
the volcano Vesuvius erupted in 76 AD) a workman discovers a cache of
jewelry along with a stone-encrusted body of a man.
The stone cadaver is transported to a local
museum but on the way there the stone creature comes to life and kills
driver which causes the truck to run off the road.
When the authorities arrive, they find the
stone man inert and lifeless and succeed in bringing him to the museum.
The curator calls in the help of Dr. Paul Mallon (Richard
Anderson) and together they discover that the body is that of a roman
Quintillus Aurellus. They have a harder
time explaining why Mallon's artist girlfriend, Tina (Elaine Edwards),
having dreams of the stone man pursuing her, even before she hears
discovery. Then, late one sleepless
evening, Tina goes to the museum to sketch the petrified Aurellus. He raises causes her to swoon, and then kills
a guard before becoming inert once more.
No one is really sure that a 2000 year old dead man is killing
but who else could it be? More
importantly, if the faceless man is dead already, how do they kill him?
This is a movie that takes me back to the Saturday Afternoon
Creature Feature on the local UHF station back when I was a kid. It's hokey but a lot of fun to watch,
especially if you can enjoy some of the outlandish dialog.
When Mallon wonders how the creature can see
since it is, well, faceless, the curator opines that "if its mind is
can receive images. Bats can see without
eyes! The blind have vision too! Not exactly like ours, but some kind of sight
that guides them instinctively."
There are other great lines that really make this movie
enjoyable to watch. When someone
questions how a fossilized cadaver can walk and murder, the same
gets deeply philosophical: "Where is the
dividing line between yesterday and today, between the past and the
even between life and death!" My
favorite line in the whole movie comes when the police announce that
to stop the monster's murderous rampage and a scientist exclaims "The
Here we are so close to solving the mystery of life and death, and they
about their precious laws."
Even with the hokey dialog, the director and crew did a good
job of creating a bit of an eerie atmosphere.
Shadows were used to great effect in most of the film and there
lot of close-ups of scared faces that also serve to build that tension. Technically it is a solid film with good
composition and careful lighting and that goes a long way towards
making it a
This film comes on a made to order DVD-R with a full color cover
and a generic printed label.
The mono soundtrack is fine.
The music sounds a bit thin and the dialog isn't as crisp as it
be, but overall it's a decent sounding disc.
I was very pleasantly surprised with the full frame
black-and-white image. For an unrestored
movie from the 50's, this looks very good.
The level of detail was good, the contrast was excellent and the
were strong and even. There is a little
bit of print damage, but it's very minor.
Overall this is a very good looking movie.
Being an MOD disc, there are no extras.
While there are more than a few plot holes (including the rather
lame ending) this is a fun film accented by some memorably hokey
dialog. Fans of 50's monster movies will
want to make this
part of their collection for sure but to casual fans it comes recommended.