CURSE OF THE FACELESS MAN(director: Edward L. Cahn; screenwriter: Jerome Bixby; cinematographer: Kenneth Peach; editor: Grant Whytock; cast: Richard Anderson (Dr. Paul Mallon), Elaine Edwards (Tina Enright), Luis Van Rooten (Dr. Carlo Fiorillo), Adele Mara (Maria Fiorillo), Felix Locher (Dr. Emanuel), Jan Arvan (Inspector Renaldi), Gar Moore (Dr. Enricco Ricci), Bob Bryant (Quintillus); Runtime: 67; Vogue/United Artists; 1958)
“Recommended for only die-hard fans of Edward L. Cahn.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A somewhat tolerable golem type of B-movie, thanks to fast paced direction and a compact script. Recommended for only die-hard fans of Edward L. Cahn. It is a remake of “The Mummy (32)” and was on a double bill with the same director’s superior “It! The Terror From Beyond Space.”
A voiceover explains what happened in Pompeii two thousand years ago when there was an eruption from the volcano Vesuvius, which crushed the ancient Roman city. We are told that there were some mysteries from those days that still remain today. In modern times, a workman on an archeological dig unearths a jewel box and the mummified body of a faceless man. Transporting the stone body back to the Pompeii museum the body comes alive and kills the truck driver, causing the truck to go off the road.
The museum curator, Dr. Carlo Fiorillo (Luis), is curious about the faceless man, especially when told by the doctor examining the body, Dr. Emanuel (Felix), that the truck driver’s blood was found on it. He calls in a scientific adviser Dr. Paul Mallon (Anderson) to try and make sense out of this. Paul happens to be the ex-lover of Dr. Fiorillo’s daughter, Maria (Adele), who is also a scientist. But there will be no hanky-panky in this film, Paul is engaged to an American artist, Tina Enright (Elaine). Maria will also slowly realize that she must now find love with her father’s assistant, Dr. Enricco Ricci (Gar), someone who has been waiting in the wings for her.
Tina strangely had a dream the night after the stoneman caused the accident and drew him exactly as he turned out from the dream. Meanwhile the bronze medallion found in the jewel box is examined along with its inscription: “Whoever stands between me and what’s mine shall perish. I am the Son of the Etruscan gods, Quintillus.” The curse says it shall bring down the city with fire.
The Etruscans were an ancient people who were absorbed by the Roman Empire. They were cult worshipers and believers in the supernatural.
The twists in the story come when the doctors put Tina through hypnoses and also delve into the black arts; thereby, learning that Quintillus was a slave-gladiator and Tina was an aristocrat, the daughter of a senator. Quintillus was in love with her, but Tina rejected him because of their class differences. The day the volcano erupted, Quintillus tried to save her by taking her down to the Cove of the Blind Fisherman. Quintillus was buried in the earth during the volcano and was fortunately preserved by an embalming solution like those used on Egyptian mummies and remained alive because of the radiation on the earth. If you buy this explanation, maybe I can interest you in some swampland in Florida!
As this is the same day as the historical eruption of Vesuvius, Quintillus believes that he must try and save Tina whom he sees as a reincarnation of the senator’s daughter. You can imagine how the police inspector Rinaldi (Jan) feels about accepting all this incredulous information about a faceless man dead for two thousand years but who keeps escaping from the museum to murder the citizens of his city who get in his way, plus he can’t be killed by bullets. I bet you this jaded policeman thought he saw everything! This is enough to make that swell derby he wears, spin around atop his puzzled head.
Warning: spoiler to follow.
The situation is resolved when Quintillus is carrying the unconscious Tina out to the sea to save her from what he thinks is the impending volcano, but when he steps into the water he begins to dissolve.
REVIEWED ON 3/21/2000 GRADE: C-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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