18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
What can be said about Curse of the Faceless Man (1958) that hasn't already been said? Apparently a lot, since I be the first to review it on the Amazon website...written by Jerome Bixby (It! The Terror from Beyond Space, Fantastic Voyage) and directed by schlockmeister extraordinaire Edward L. Cahn (The She-Creature, Dragstrip Girl, Invasion of the Saucer Men), the film stars Richard Anderson, whom most in my generation would recognize as Oscar Goldman from the mid 70s television series "The Six Million Dollar Man" (you're doing that bionic sound effect in your head right now, aren't you? Me too...). Also appearing is Elaine Edwards (Guns, Girls, and Gangsters, The Bat), Adele Mara (Sands of Iwo Jima, The Black Whip), Luis Van Rooten (The Big Clock, Boston Blackie's Chinese Venture), Felix Locher (Hell Ship Mutiny, Frankenstein's Daughter), Jan Arvan (The Sign of Zorro, The Poseidon Adventure), and Gar Moore (Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff).
As the movie begins we see a miniature volcano spewing forth its molten, steamy goodness over a miniature city, supposedly representing a reenactment of Mount Vesuvius destroying the city of Pompeii in 79 A.D., according to the narrator...well, that was kinda fun...now we're in the present, and we see some Giuseppe rooting around on an excavation site. He uncovers a golden jewel box along with man-sized, man shaped, white stone figure (actually, it looks like a man covered in lumpy, crusty gravy). Within the jewel box are some shiny trinkets, along with a bronze medallion sporting a curse of sorts. The find is taken to the museum (not before someone dies mysteriously), run by Dr. Carlo Fiorillo (Rooten) and his hotchie mama daughter Maria (Mara). Dr. Fiorillo calls in his friend, Oscar Goldman ...er, I mean Dr. Paul Mallon (Anderson), to do a preliminary investigation of the stone cold corpse. Mallon is skeptical about the curse mumbo jumbo, that is until he learns his fiancée Tina Enright (Edwards), who's an artist, has had some sort of dream about the events that transpired thus far, including the death I spoke of earlier. Anyway, seems the 2,000 year old, lumpy mashed potato man is alive, and he's got a hankering to go courtin'...and Oscar Goldman's...er, I mean Paul's squeeze seems to fit the bill...on the flipside, Tina finds herself inexplicably drawn to the creature, to which she sneaks into the museum after dark, awakening the beast, and we witness its awesoma power, particularly in smashing through cheap, balsa wood doors, before returning back to immobility. Some other stuff happens, we visit a place called `The Cove of the Blind Fisherman', the scientists perform various tests, and we finally learn that the creature has a name, along with its connection with Tina...all of which leads up to a not so climatic finish (at this point I would have taken any kind of ending).
I think I would have liked this movie better if it hadn't been so exceedingly boring. The science is exceptionally shoddy, the characters plain and lifeless (I never believed for a second Anderson was supposed to be some kind of doctor), performances drab, and the dialog just all around goofy. Below is an example as the men try to wrap their minds around the fact the stony individual is actually alive and has intent...
Inspector: It isn't possible...it has no face, no eyes, and yet it knows where to go.
Dr. Fiorillo: It can only be instinct, something that has survived from long ago to guide it, the way the blind are sometimes guided.
Inspector: But still, it cannot be alive!
Paul: Not the way we know life.
Dr. Fiorillo: It is not dead, as we know death.
What a brain trust...now imagine sitting through 66 minutes of this mind numbing hogwash. I could have dealt with a lot of the inherent faults of this movie if only had the creature been something worth hanging around for, but instead, this Mummy retread just ends up sucking wind. Visualize a man whose entire body is covered in a cast, and then try to picture him as a creature chasing you down the street. You'd probably be able to get away fairly easily, that is unless you're a clumsy clod or prone to bouts of paralyzing fear caused by the most innocuous sights (both of which seemed to be the case in this film). Even at full speed the creature, at best, could manage to move like that of an 80-year-old man shuffling around in his house slippers. The one element that annoyed me more than anything with regards to this movie was the overly expository narration, inserted at various points because either the filmmakers thought their telling of the story not clear enough, or felt the audience would not intelligent enough to pick up on the obvious (I'm leaning towards the latter given condescension is considered an artform in Hollywood). Thing is, the kind of narration present here would have fit a crime/drama type movie, but certainly not a horror film. Also, the story was about as clumsy as the creature...curses, broaches, medallions, it was often difficult to figure out what was supposed to be driving what, and the explanation near the end as for the reasoning why the creature only moved at certain times was about as hokey as one would expect, but certainly not an uncommon plot device in the 50s. I think there was an attempt to create a sense of pathos for the creature, as was somewhat common in the Universal creature features of the 30s and 40s, but it was never fully realized, so, in the end, you neither fear or emphasize with the beast. I did like some aspects about the movie...the women were very attractive, and the music was decent. The sets were okay and the film ran just over an hour (but it felt like two).
This is my first Cheezy Flicks Entertainment DVD, so I really wasn't sure what the quality would be like, but, in general, I found it to be better than expected. The full frame picture looks very clean and sharp and the audio came through very clearly. As far as extras, there are some rough looking previews for other Cheezy Flicks DVD releases like Horrors of the Black Museum (1959), The Headless Ghost (1959), Robot Monster (1953), and The Day of the Triffids (1962). Also included is four or five `Intermission' shorts, the kind theaters and drive-ins used to show to either impart information or tempt you to the snack bar. All in all I'll give two stars for the film, and one extra for Cheezy Flicks Entertainment and their better than average DVD release here.