Thursday, January 27, 2011

Curse of the Faceless Man (1958)

Edward L. Cahn was an extremely prolific b-movie director. During a thirty year period, from his debut in 1931 to his death in 1963 he directed no less than 125 movies (ok, around 50 of those are shorts – but still!)! That’s a lot! Cheapies of course, never (what I can see) any big movies, just simple entertainment. I’ve only seen two of his productions, but both of them shows that he was a deeply talented storyteller with both unique and really cool ideas. Two of the movies he directed in 1958 are also those I’ve seen so far: It! The Terror from Beyond Space and today’s feature, Curse of the Faceless Man!

During an excavation in Pompeii one of those stone-bodies is found, trapped in ashes since the famous volcano eruption. With him is a golden box filled with ancient Etruscan jewellery, which by this time – according to the main characters – should be an extinct people. At the same time beautiful Tina Enright (Elaine Edwards) is starting to get weird dreams and paints them down in the morning – and it seem to be the same “faceless” man who they found in Pompeii. Soon more deaths occur, can it be that the body is still alive and wants… to kill!!!

I can agree that that storyline seem a bit thin, but it’s a story filled with great ideas and neat details. But first of all, it has a great atmosphere and the location – in the movie Italy – but I think it’s filmed in LA, works very fine and brings a certain style to the movie. Richard Anderson as Dr. Paul Mallon is a typical hero of the time, a bit stiff, but that’s part of the charm with these movies. The drama does not need more than that, and it works great anyway. But it’s still well-acted and has a wonderful monster in the character of the faceless man. He’s more or less a mummy, but covered with a layer of stone and ashes.

Everything looks ambitious and interesting, from sets to fright scenes and the actors is serious and never looks bored, which can happen during some of these quickies sometimes. Cahn, the director, tells the story in such an effective and intelligent way that I wished he slowed down a bit. Some of the developments are explained by a voice over, which to be honest isn’t necessary – instead it stresses the story a bit too much. The best thing would of it was slightly longer (it’s a bit over one hour now) and left the voice over-guy out of the picture.

Anyway, Curse of the Faceless Man is a stylish little horror movie with a lot of ambitions and talent. The DVD from Cheezy Flicks looks quite good and I can recommend a purchase for fans of fifties horror movies.


Alex B. said...

Your new banner is ace!
This movie sounds cool, I'm in the mood for some Black&White fantastic stuff.
Need to re-watch Indestructable Man with Lon Chaney Jr...

dfordoom said...

Alex, Indestructible Man is great fun! It has a kind of strange film noir ambience but with crazy sci-fi ideas.