Friday, 12 December 2014

THE CURSE OF THE FACELESS MAN



d. Edward L. Cahn (1958)


'Where's the dividing line between yesterday and today, between the past and the present, even between life and death?'  

Essentially a Mummy film, The Curse of the Faceless Man is, as you might expect, obsessed with death and forbidden love, reincarnation and revenge. Set in Italy, the monster here isn’t a long dead Egyptian swathed in bandages but rather an Etruscan gladiator contained in a carapace of volcanic ash, having been engulfed by the eruption of Vesuvius at Pompeii some two thousand years previously.

Discovered in a hole by an incredulous workman and taken to a museum in Naples, his scabby white body mostly lies around on its back with its arms and legs in the air, like a stunned beetle. At key moments, however, the ‘fantastic dead man’ drags himself to his feet and starts stomping stiffly around: ruthless, relentless, chopping people to death with the rock hard side of his horny hand.

Like most angry monsters, he’s all Id, operating purely on pre-set instructions. His mission is two-fold: to murder nominal authority figures like Policemen and Museum staff, and to be reunited with his lost love, who just so happens to have been reincarnated as a visiting American artist: an astonishingly fortuitous break for him, extremely bad luck for her.

It’s a shame that he is so preoccupied, really. Think of what he could have added to our knowledge of the ancient world if he hadn’t been a psychotic killing machine.

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