Horror Bites - Brain Storm

FIEND WITHOUT A FACE (1958)


This is certainly another case where the crazy name can't possibly live up to the film it's headlining, but as 50s B-movies go I guess this isn't too bad. Even the title card is super dramatic with exaggerated lighting bolt letters on the screen. But how to describe this? There's more than one fiend for a start, if you can call it that. I guess I'll just say it, this one sits under the dubious category of killer brain stories. Even within this period of genre movies where scientific experiments run amok, it's pretty silly. An invisible killer stalks the grounds outside an air force base on the US Canada border, strangling its victims. Is it something to do with the new arrival of atomic power or are there more human forces at work? 

The local farmers all seem to be convinced that radioactive fallout is coming out of the nearby military installation somehow. They've got low quality milk to prove it. Yeah... the science here isn't exactly the strongest element. I don't think nuclear fuel or fighter planes just leak radiation randomly, or that it's something that would play havoc with dairy produce one minute and then instantly kill someone the next. The base has devised a Radar machine that can see further away by just boosting the power. Power which is increased by.... removing rods from the reactor? It's weird and archaic but I guess that's what you'd expect. The reality of normal fission based energy isn't exciting enough. Later it's inferred that the energy being produced is feeing the monsters, but how, through the air? Well apparently this is the case, since nearby a scientist devising a way of using telepathy has also been draining the station for his experiments.

So after all this nuclear paranoia, the towns folk decide to that instead there must be a mad soldier running about in the woods and try to hunt him down instead. They aren't exactly depicted as a rational bunch. Meanwhile as deaths from the invisible strangler mount, it's discovered that a Professor Walgate has been trying to use his mind to move small things like the pages of a book. However instead he's conjured up a creature of pure mental energy that is now on the loose. Typical. It's also started multiplying somehow and is feeding on the brains of the locals. But the monster itself... is also a brain? Maybe it's best to switch yours off when considering this type of thing.

The big monster finale is a lot of fun as the military men and the professor are held under siege by creatures that just happen to become visible at the last minute. I guess holding the reveal until the third act is pretty standard fare. The showdown has some neat stop motion, though it's not really of a high standard. There's a lot of shooting, as well as a surprising amount of monochrome gore once the monster begin to get pushed back. It's so ridiculous at times that it's impossible not to be amused. The plot is messy, the stock characters are flimsy and the central idea isn't very well thought out, but I guess it delivers just enough entertainment anyway.

3/5