Edward L. Cahn, who is probably most known for directing a number of Our Gang shorts in the early 40’s, was a pretty prolific B-movie director in the 50’s. One of those B-movie titles is 1958’s Curse of the Faceless Man, which is an awful lot like Karl Freund’s The Mummy.
At the excavation site of Pompeii, a worker out doing some digging comes across a mummified body. With the body is a bronze medallion with strange Etruscan scripture on the back. The body is scooped up and taken to the Pompeii Museum for further research. Once the body arrives at the museum Dr. Carlo Fiorello (Luis Van Rooten) begins to have a look and comes to the startling realization that the body may still be alive.
Dr. Fiorello calls on the assistance of a former colleague, Dr. Paul Mallon (Richard Anderson) for his advice. Dr. Mallon agrees the situation is off, but thinks the idea of the body still being alive is ridiculous. Once those who are alone with the body begin to get hurt in mysterious ways, Dr. Mallon begins to waver a bit. Eventually Dr. Mallon’s fiancée Tina (Elaine Edwards) begins to have strange dreams featuring the body. Is the body alive? Is it coming after Tina? And if so, who can stop it?
The big selling point for this one is the actual faceless man. This was a small budget movie in the 50’s and they were actual able to create a creature that is pretty creepy at times. Layne Britton did the makeup effects and did a delightful job. The creature is supposed to look very rock-like and for the most part that is captured. When he moves of course things don’t look as well. You can kind of see that it’s a man in a suit, but all in all I enjoyed it. There are a few moments in the film when the faceless man rises from his slumber that when mixed with the standout score from Gerald Fried are genuinely creepy. Not scary, but creepy.
I watched the Curse of the Faceless Man on a Sunday afternoon and it was the perfect setting for a movie of this ilk. Something about it gives off a Sunday matinee vibe. It’s a short movie, coming in at just 67 minutes, so it’s perfect when you’re looking to kill just an hour or so. It’s not a great movie by any stretch, so another twenty minutes or so would really kill its watch-ability.
The strangest aspect of Curse of the Faceless Man is a very unnecessary narration from an uncredited Morris Ankrum. It literally serves no purpose. He’s telling us exactly what we are watching on screen. It’s not as if time passes and he feels in the gaps or anything. Just a really odd choice for narration. Maybe Cahn didn’t trust the audience all that much?
Curse of the Faceless Man is the latest addition to Kino Lorber’s growing Blu-ray collection of 50’s era B-movies. I think KL has knocked most of these releases out of the park and this is yet again another fine looking release. I’m constantly impressed that movies this old made on such small budgets have the necessary materials available to produce great looking Blu-rays.
In addition to the great film quality, Kino Lorber has added a feature length film commentary with Chris Alexander from Shock Till You Drop. This commentary is very insightful as Alexander drops various tidbits and factoids about the cast and crew. Alexander also points out that the film is quite talkie, which isn’t something I really noticed while watching the film sans commentary. Alexander is right however, which is a credit to Cahn. One cool thing about this movie is that because the runtime is so short you can watch it back-to-back with the commentary track and it’s like watching one movie.
Curse of the Faceless Man isn’t a great movie. Maybe not even a good one by most standards. It is, however, a good snippet of the 50’s B-movie that serves as a Sunday afternoon treat. Plus it’s not available on a great Blu-ray. For those reasons it’s worth your time.
Curse of the Faceless Man is now available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.
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