Curse of the Faceless Man
Title: Curse of the Faceless Man
Year Of Release: 1958
Running Time: 76 minutes
DVD Released By: Cheezy Flicks
Directed By: Edward L. Cahn
Writing Credits: Jerome Bixby
Starring: Richard Anderson, Elaine Edwards, Adele Mara, Luis Van Rooten
1. Entombed for eons - turned to stone - seeking women, women, women!
2. A Monster on the rampage for a human bride!
3. The volcano man of 2000 years ago stalks the earth to claim his woman!
Review Date: 3.27.11
See some lobby cards for this film HERE.
Shadow's Title: "Curse of the Plotless Movie"
Buy This Film From Amazon
Dr. Paul Mallon - He’s a doctor that specializes in tissue culture. This is the reason Dr. Fiorillo calls him to help with the strange, crusty body found in the ruins of Pompeii. Paul seems to be living in Italy, though no reason for this is ever clearly made known in the film. He's just conveniently there.
Tina Enright - This is Paul’s fiancée, who also seems to be living in Italy, despite being an American. She’s a painter, so maybe she’s over there studying art or something. The poor woman soon finds herself the center of the Faceless Man’s unwanted amorous advances.
Dr. Carlo Fiorillo - He works at the Museo di Pompeii and it falls upon him to examine the strange body removed from the ruins. Naturally, one of the first things he does is bombard it with X-rays. Puzzled by the body's resilient crust, he calls in his old pal Paul Mallon for help.
Maria Fiorillo - Carlo’s daughter, she at one time had a relationship with Paul. It’s apparent that it was he who broke it off. Despite that, she seems to have moved on with her life well enough and finished her own training as a doctor. Now works with her father in the museum.
Dr. Enricco Ricci - I still don’t know what exactly this fool’s area of expertise was. From the start he wasn’t fond of Carlo calling in Paul for help, as he knew Maria and he were once a couple and it seems he has more than just professional feelings for her. Ends up with a cracked skull.
Dr. Emanual - This guy is so old, I think he may have actually survived Pompeii’s destruction. He works at the museum and after translating some old engravings found with the Faceless Man, immediately begins believing in curses and walking dead folks. Good thing he was right.
Police Inspector Renaldi - Called in to investigate the first strange death, this is the local cop who ultimately deals with the case of the Faceless Man, though at first he isn’t sure he believes in a walking dead man and thinks a more mundane killer is on the loose.
Quintillus Aurelius - A Roman slave, he fell in love with one of his master’s daughters. Vowing to take her for himself and escape, he died in Pompeii’s destruction along with everyone else. Preserved in death, he now seeks to be reunited with his lost love…who he now believes is Tina.
The Guard - This guy had no real part in the film and was only around long enough to get his ass fatally beat by the Faceless Man. I only included him here because I stumbled upon that screen cap by accident and his listing makes these columns even.
The CLOWN - UGH. Never seen but all too often heard, this moron starts talking as soon as the credits end and continually interrupts the film throughout its entire running time, all the way up to the very end. Worse, he adds nothing, explaining away things we can see for ourselves.
Plot Hold your cursor over an image for
a pop-up caption
Right off the bat, before we can even prepare ourselves for the torture to come, the movie blasts into being with a title screen and bombastic music score. The loud, near discordant tune quickly becomes a slower, more ominous piece that gradually begins to build again until we return to the brash notes from the beginning. To call this music annoying is to perform a disservice for all truly annoying things in this world, be they warm beer, cold coffee or Lindsey Lohan. Indeed, this audio assault may very well be the most horrific part of the film and the one instance that may turn your stomach inside out. The entire time this crescendo of crap blared out at me, I contemplated my options for ending the pain. First, I could have simply muted the sound, but I must confess that the more appealing option for putting my misery to an end involved ramming something into my ear to block out the ghastly sounds…a steak knife for example. As the credits unfold, we can see the film’s title character, stretched out awkwardly on a table, and I am forced to wonder if the music killed him, too. Before I can grab the closest thing at hand and shove it into my ear, we see the director’s name and things fade out, including the music (thank goodness).
Fade in. We see the destruction of the ancient city of Pompeii, as the eruption of Mount Vesuvius vents its deadly wrath. Well, let me clarify: we see a small model set that has been set on fire and a Peter Brady-esque fake volcano in the background spewing smoke into the air.
Oh, crap. Before we go any further, a voiceover interrupts. It’s a CLOWN! What’s a CLOWN, you may ask? Well, let me do the old copy/past trick from a couple earlier reviews:
A CLOWN is a Continuously Lurking Omniscient Wearisome Narrator. You know the type…they chime in unexpectedly, more often than not at a film’s beginning, to impart some piece of obscure arcana that the film’s producers thought was vital information relevant to the movie’s story. This is usually comprised of references to some past event involving atomic bombs, twisting known scientific principles into near unrecognizable technobabble to better fit the movie’s ideas or just prattling on aimlessly about a whole lot of nothing. CLOWNs have been known to interject their often near incoherent ramblings into the film in question at all manner of junctures – the beginning, throughout the middle as well as the end. In essence, they represent the producer’s contempt for the audience, personifying their efforts to explain things for the idiots the filmmakers perceive the audience to be (and often they are quite right). Thusly, CLOWNs infest B-Movies from the 1950’s at only a marginally lower degree than white trash at your local Walmart.
What is the CLOWN saying? You know, the usual superfluous crap, accompanied by shots of modern day (1958) ruins of Pompeii:
“Seventy-Nine years after the birth of Christ, the city of Pompeii ceased to exist, destroyed by a mountain of seething hell known as…Vesuvius. On a quiet August afternoon almost two thousand years ago, the volcano erupted, the earth shook, day became night, birds fell dead from the sky, fish died as the ocean boiled and the people of Pompeii perished under an avalanche of volcanic ash and stone. Burned, suffocated, crushed.”
Knowing what sort of cinematic experience this film is about to unleash on the unsuspecting viewer at this point, I’d say those poor ancient bastards got off light. Anyway, Mr. CLOWN continues, accompanied by a scene of a guy excavating a section of the ruins:
“Many strange and mysterious things happened on that day. Some have been explained by archaeologists over the years. Some perhaps will never be explained.”
As the CLOWN says this, we see a guy digging in a pit. As he toils away with his shovel, one of the inner walls of the pit begins to crumble away, revealing a small chest. Actually, it looks more like the chest is being pushed into the light by someone or something that is buried behind it. Now that is what I call easy archaeology: when the buried artifacts unearth themselves. CLOWN continues:
“The startling narrative of the faceless man begins on June third of this year when a gold jewel box was discovered by a workman of the expedition unearthing the ancient ruins of Pompeii.”
This is exactly why CLOWNS and voice-overs in general are such a waste of time and energy in films like this. The idiot has just verbally informed us of events unfolding before our very eyes. Do the producers think the audience is so stupid that they cannot realize what is happening with this worker? Do we really need it spelled out for us? It’s like having built in blind captioning for those who cannot see.
As he says this, the jewel box falls to the ground and busts open, scattering a few shiny and no doubt valuable objects. The workman finally notices it and stops his work to examine his fortuitous find…and maybe slip a trinket or two surreptitiously into his pocket. As he kneels and looks things over, a hand emerges from the same hole that produced the jewel box, only this hand is pale white and looks like it is covered in plaster. The workman looks up and sees the hand, which is still moving slightly. Then the guy reaches out and touches it. Deciding that moving hands emerging from the earth are not his area of expertise, he runs away to summon help. The CLOWN chimes in again with more of his useless drivel:
“The terrified laborer was the first to bring the news of the white, stone-like hand to the headquarters of the expedition. That same day, a body was taken from the earth, where it had been buried for two thousand years.”
Now we see a body stretched out on the ground, rigid and looking like it is covered in a plaster body cast. The movie wants us to believe that this is the exact condition the body was in when removed from the earth. Indeed, later the “scientists” will comment on the stone-like crust surrounding the corpse and its inherent properties that contributed to bringing the dead man back to life after two millennia. There is only one problem with this: it's impossible. Those who died at Pompeii were killed when a massive pyroclastic cloud buried the city in ash and pumice, which when mixed with the rain, became a thick cement-like consistency that hardened around the bodies. While over time the flesh decayed from these corpses, the skeletons remained, as did the “bubble” where their bodies had been buried. These “bubbles’ retained the shape and imprint of each body. In modern times, plaster is poured into these “bubbles” and once hardened, it provides researchers with the shape of the person or persons who died. Thus, the plaster is a modern addition. The bodies themselves are not naturally encased in plaster…yet we just saw a plaster-like hand unearth itself a few seconds ago and now the workers have uncovered an entire body covered in it. WRONG.
Now we turn our attention to the “Museo Di Pompeii” in Naples, which amazingly enough, seems to have been built from the exact same architectural plans as the Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles, even down to the layout of the grounds. What a coincidence! Yeah, right.
A car rolls up and parks. Dr. Paul Mallon emerges and is greeted by Dr. Carlo Fiorillo, who quickly ushers him inside. Within, Carlo explains that a two thousand year old body was found the previous day at the Pompeii dig site (no Phyllis Diller jokes, please!...and for those of you under the age of 40, just go google her name) and he is unsure whether it is truly dead. Paul does not buy that for an instant, but Carlo hints at something odd about the remains.
Speaking of the remains, we now see a truck heading down the road with the words “Museo Di Pompeii” on its door. In the back is a large crate containing the body. As the vehicle bounces down the road, the driver blissfully unaware of any danger, the body in the back – aka the Faceless Man, begins to stir.
Back at the museum, Carlo is telling Paul that when he examined the body, he found a resiliency in the crust and wants Paul’s help in running some tests. Long about now, Carlo’s daughter Maria, along with a Dr. Enricco Ricci, arrives to aid in the investigation. Carlo tells everyone about the jewel box found with the body and surmises that it was being carried by the man at the time of death. Inside were some valuable pieces along with a relatively worthless bronze medallion inscribed with Etruscan symbols. The Etruscans of course predated the Romans and had some strange practices, especially where death is concerned. More than one Etruscan zombie has risen to menace modern day folks.
We return to the transport truck, bringing the Faceless Man to the museum. Looking for all the world like some sort of cheap crusty mummy, the Faceless Man breaks open his crate and rises. Standing in the bed of the truck, he reaches through the window and grabs the startled driver by the neck. For his part, the driver emits a scream that sounds like he just spilled scalding hot coffee on his balls.
Back at the museum, the gang is talking about the inscription on the bronze medallion and wondering when they will have in translated. A phone call interrupts the good times with the news that the transport truck has been involved in an accident and the driver is dead. Like a bunch of ambulance-chasing lawyers, they all head out to the location in question.
Out at the scene of said accident, we see the truck has crashed into a tree. Two guys are hauling away the driver’s body and the Faceless Man can be seen lying in the dirt nearby, stiff as ever. Maria wonders how the accident could have happened. Paul notes that the truck is not that badly damaged. He also wonders how the deceased driver sustained a wound to the back of his head. The Faceless Man is intact and everyone believes that he was thrown from the truck to where he is now laying.
The more important thing for us to ask at this point is this: how did the truck come to stop relatively unscathed? While Paul and the others do not know it, we know how the driver was killed: by the dead guy in the back. So after killing him, did the Faceless Man hop through the window into the cab and bring the vehicle to a stop? The truck certainly does not look like it suffered from a high speed impact. The location of the Faceless Man should also be noted. He is on the ground about half a dozen yards away, but not only is he is almost parallel with the truck, he’s damn near behind it! If the truck came to a halt by crashing into the tree and the Faceless Man was still in the back, the impact would have thrown him forward, not to the side and back!
An old guy drives up and informs Carlo that he has translated the inscription on the bronze medallion. WTF? Couldn’t this guy have waited until they were all back at the museum? Is the translation so important that he had to drive out to the accident scene in order to inform the others as soon as possible? That had better be some translation! You know, something utterly remarkable, like a way to unify quantum mechanics with the relativity theory, or a cure for cancer using natural ingredients or even better, a recipe for a version of haggis that’s actually edible! To make matters even goofier, when this old guy – Dr. Emanual – sees the cops nearby, he says that they had all better discuss the matter in private. Then why in the hell did you drive way out there for, you idiot?!
Back at the museum, Emanual provides the translation. See the screen cap to the left as I am too lazy to type it all out right now. There is a conversation on whether this Quintillus Aurelius guy actually caused the destruction of Pompeii with his curse, but Emanual is more interested in the line about outliving the Romans. He wonders if “that thing” is still alive.
As if on cue, Dr. Ricci wheels in a table with the Faceless Man aka Quintillus Aurelius on it. Everyone gathers around and Paul sees that there is blood on the right hand. Emanual believes it is from the dead truck driver, but Paul isn’t eager to believe in the idea of curses and living dead men. Emanual hopes he is right.
That night Paul visits his fiancée, Tina Enright. Tina is obviously a painter, given all the canvases in her place. Either she is a painter or she's fencing stolen artwork! When he mentions his recent excursion to the Pompeii Museum and the body found the day before, Tina gets a weird look on her face and shows him her latest painting, inspired by a dream she had the previous night. She details her dream, in which she saw a white hand emerging from the earth, a “thing” that killed a driver and caused a car crash and the fact that this “thing” was trying to get to her. When Paul tells her of the Faceless Man and the truck wreck that did take a life, she insists on seeing this body that was found in Pompeii.
Damn. I thought he was gone, but nope…the CLOWN returns.
“Dr. Paul Mallon began to feel a deep concern for his fiancée, for he was wondering now if the faceless apparition she had painted was an impossibility.”
Again, the moron is spelling out what we can clearly see on screen.
Returning to the museum, we see that Carlo, Maria and Enricco are showing the body to a Police Inspector Renaldi. The inspector is telling them that an autopsy has proven that the dead driver did not die from the crash. Rather, he was murdered beforehand. Paul and Tina arrive, the latter staring at Quintillus Aurelius as if he was going to jump up and start dancing at any second. Renaldi thinks the driver was murdered by someone who was after the jewel case and despite there being blood on the hand of Quintillus Aurelius, does not believe the ancient corpse was the killer. Watch where everyone is standing in this scene. People seem to jump back and forth from one position to another in the space of a few nanoseconds. Off to follow up leads, the inspector leaves.
Paul then gathers everyone and has Tina relate to them the events of her dream and her latest painting. Tina wants to come by the next day and make some sketches of the body, but everyone else thinks that is a bad idea until more tests are run, so she is convinced to wait. Paul then takes Tina home. Time for the CLOWN to return.
“Dr Fiorillo was puzzled and worried over what was obviously more than just a coincidence. For Tina Enright, the strange dreams persisted, as though the stone-like man lying in the museum had forced her to think of him, having pressed himself so indelibly on her mind, that she had to go to him…so that his portrait might be finished.”
Again, seeing the worried look on Carlo Fiorillo’s face, the CLOWN’s words are unnecessary. Especially so when we see Tina tossing and turning in bed and then get up to dress and head to the museum. Despite it being the middle of the night, she has no problem getting inside, as all the doors are unlocked and no alrams are active. She finds Quintillus Aurelius and sits down to begin sketching him. Imagine her surprise when, after a few minutes, he begins to move and sit up!
As Quintillus Aurelius stands and begins slowly lumbering her way like a reject from a zombie film, she elicits one of the usual responses: she just stands there and stares in shock. The other option is to scream loud as all hell and then turn to run, but wind up tripping. Eventually she does fall to her knees and then screams, which draws the attention of the night guard, who comes running.
Tina passes out and as Quintillus Aurelius bends over to pick her up, the guard enters and wastes no time in firing his pistol at the walking dead man. Naturally this is as about effective as using a hair dryer to properly cook a steak. Quintillus Aurelius backhands the guard, who flies across the room and collapses in a heap. Then the Faceless Man retrieves a brooch and places it on Tina’s blouse.
All the noise has not gone undetected. Carlo and Maria now come hauling ass, dressed in their sleep apparel, which means they both must live at the museum (indeed, upon viewing the film a second time, I caught a line from Maria about her and her father maintaining quarters at the museum – I must have missed that the first time). Imagine living at the same place you work! While it would make for a short and inexpensive commute, you could never really call in sick. Plus you’d spend nearly all your time at the same location. Talk about boring. Anyway, they find a mess. Carlo checks on Tina while Maria checks the guard, who ends up being dead. Quintillus Aurelius lays on the floor just a foot or two away, showing no signs having ambulated a few seconds earlier.
They notice that Tina is wide-eyed and catatonic. Plus, she is now wearing the brooch and Carlo wonders what happened. He is beginning to think there may be something to this whole curse thing, but his daughter is more inclined to believe Inspector Renaldi’s idea – that the killer is someone that is trying to steal the jewels.
He’s back once again to annoy us. You know…the CLOWN.
“Dr. Fiorillo studied the ancient book in his library for hours and finally found what he wanted: a picture of Roman women at the time that the Roman Empire flourished. For Tina Enright, time had ceased to exist as she lay suspended in the vague twilight between the past and the present.”
After seeing Carlo looking through his book and finding the picture, we see Tina stretched out on an examination table, blankly staring at the ceiling. Paul is nearby and asks Maria if there is anything that can be done for her, but there is not. Carlo now shows them the picture he found, which shows women wearing brooches in the same location that the brooch was found pinned on Tina. No one has a clear idea as to what is happening, so Carlo advises Paul and Maria to take Tina back to her apartment.
Paul and Maria walk over to where Tina is stretched out on a table and working together, awkwardly pick her up and carry her out the door. I really wanted to see how they got her in the car and then up the stairs at her apartment, but the next thing we see is them putting her to bed. She just lays there, with no reaction at all to what is happening around her (I suspect a similar fate befalls many of this film’s viewers). Paul and Maria talk and we learn that they were a couple at one point, but things didn’t work out. Maria harbors no ill will and wants to see Tina get better. Paul is beginning to think something funky is going on, but Maria still refuses to believe in ancient curses. The two then leave.
Ugh, he’s back again. No, not the Faceless Man. Something far worse: the CLOWN.
“An ancient brooch, yet the mystery of it had survived the ages to make itself felt again in the presence of Tina Enright. Now perhaps the face of the mystery might be solved.”
Paul and Maria return to the museum, where along with Carlo, they are determined to get to the bottom of things. They head to the room where Quintillus Aurelius is kept. Carlo tells Paul to stay by the door in case they need to make a quick exit (at least someone is thinking ahead). There is some goofball pseudo science talk and then Carlo moves forward to place the brooch on the floor near the body. He backs up and the trio stares at Quintillus Aurelius for any reaction.
Sure enough, the Faceless Man stirs and rises to his feet. He steps forward and scoops up the brooch. Then he begins moving forward again. Now, rather than turning and running through the open door, the trio closes it and disperses into the room, under the theory that they cannot let Quintillus Aurelius escape. Paul grabs an ax and swings at the dead guy a couple times, but it has no effect.
BOOM! Quintillus Aurelius knocks him across the room. Not waiting any longer, the Faceless Man walks right through the door, punching a hole into it and nearly stumbling and falling on his ancient ass. Off into the night he goes while Carlo and Maria check on Paul. The moron is okay and quickly regains consciousness. Everyone realizes that Quintillus Aurelius is heading for Tina, so Maria phones the cops so they can get there first.
Now we see Quintillus Aurelius stumbling away from the Griffith Park Observat…er…I mean…the Museo Di Pompeii. You didn’t think an occasion such as this would go unnoticed by our resident annoyance, did you? Of course not! Predictably, the CLOWN returns.
“For the first time since the destruction of Pompeii, Quintillus Aurelius was a free man.”
No shit, Sherlock.
We jump over to Tina asleep in bed while the CLOWN blathers on.
“The dreams in the mind of Tina Enright returned. Baffling dreams that she could not understand. Yet, the dreams were very real, for she could see approach of the man of stone, could feel his terrifying presence as he neared the apartment in which she slept.”
sarcasm. You know, I’d be so utterly lost and clueless as
to what was transpiring if it wasn’t for his regular updates.
“These were not the streets and avenues as Quintillus had known them two thousand years ago. What were once well traveled thoroughfares were now alleys and back yards of homes, but the stone man’s strange memory and instinct guided him surely toward Tina Enright.”
Outside, Paul, Maria and Carlo arrive and greet Renaldi, who isn’t sure if he believes in the story of this walking dead man.
Elsewhere, Quintillus Aurelius busts down the back door to Tina’s building. Naturally, NO ONE hears this. Tina continues to sleep right through it all and the others cannot hear from their spot at the front of the building. Carlo asks Renaldi if he knows the location of an old area of the city once known as “the fourth hill of Pompeii.” Renaldi says yes, and that in fact, they are all now gathered at that exact place.
Inside, Quintillus Aurelius has found Tina’s apartment and in the same fashion as home invasions everywhere, proceeds to smash through the door. This time the racket wakes her and she gets up to investigate. When she spies the Faceless Man, she lets loose with one of her patented screams to wake the dead…or in this case, annoy the dead as she is already dealing with a recently awoken dead man.
Her scream does have one additional outcome: it alerts everyone outside that something is wrong. They all haul ass inside, but are not quite quick enough. Tina has already fled her apartment and run to the basement, pursued by the relentless – but agonizingly slow – Faceless Man. When he corners her, she screams again, bringing the others running down the stairs. I would like to point out at this juncture that only an IDIOT would run from a monster and try hiding in the basement. You’re pretty much trapping yourself! No, the smart person would run outside and try to loose their pursuer in the maze of streets, especially one that moves as slow as this guy.
Anyway, just as Quintillus Aurelius is about to get his grubby, stony, plasterery (yes, I know, that last one is not a real word) hands on Tina, he keels over and falls to the ground where he resumes his impersonation of a stiff. The others now arrive and Tina tells Paul that she had that dream again and somehow knew that the Faceless Man was coming for her. No one knows why Quintillus Aurelius has fallen over and become still, but they wonder what sort of force motivates him to move – a man who is dead, yet somehow alive. So he’s a democrat?
The next day arrives and we turn our attention again to the Griffith Park Observator…er…the Museo Di Pompeii. Dr. Emanual drives up and heads inside where he babbles on at length about what they know about Quintillus Aurelius and theorizing on what enables him to move and why. He even gives Paul a bunch of books on alchemy, urging the other man read them. He really is beginning to go out on a limb looking for reasons for the Faceless Man’s existence. Next thing you know, he’ll be talking about thetans and Xenu of the Galactic Confederacy. We should note at this point that the Faceless Man is restrained on a table with several large straps.
Tina now recounts her memories of Quintillus Aurelius coming to life when she was sketching him. Her final memory before passing out was of Quintillus Aurelius pinning a brooch on her. Emanual now reveals that it was a custom of the ancient Etruscan men to pin a jewel over the heart of the woman they loved. The notion that a two thousand year old stiff my have the hots for her is enough to unsettle her even more, though she insists that she must know what is going on. Emanual invites her to his place so they can talk. If it wasn’t for the fact that the guy looks so old that even a barrel full of viagra wouldn’t do him any good, I’d think he had some kinky plan in motion.
On the way out, Emanual wants to make one stop on the way to his place…what…to pick up some booze? He wants to take her to an area of the beach called the Cove of the Blind Fisherman. She agrees, despite never having heard of it and off they go. You know who has heard it? Yep, the CLOWN. He’s back:
“Only scholars of ancient history had ever heard of the cove of the blind fisherman. The test which Dr. Emanual was about to conduct would be a conclusive one for Tina Enright.”
We change to a shot of the faceless man, stretched out on a marble slab.
“For Quintillus, the cove of the blind fisherman as it had been for the people of old Pompeii, was a reality, not a name long lost in the archives of musty history.”
We see Tina and Emanual driving down the road and eventually stop at a small beach somewhere along the California…er…Italian coast.
“If the ghosts of memory exist in time, then the cove of the blind fisherman was alive with ghosts. For this had once been the scene of violent death.”
Tina gets out and looks around, now unsure about never having been there before. They walk around a bit and she starts to recall how multitudes of people sought escape from the erupting Vesuvius by running into sea at this location. With the water boiling, they were all quickly killed. She remembers these things as if she was there. Emanual helps her back into the car and off they go once again.
Back at the museum, Paul and Carlo are busy playing with their junior scientist chemistry sets, looking into the substances that makes up Quintillus Aurelius’ crusty exterior and hoping to find a clue as to how he still lives after two millennia (didn’t they think about just cutting to the chase and phoning up Dick Clark for the answers?). Because Quintillus Aurelius was found in the ruins of the temple of Isis, Carlo theorizes that it was some strange combination of Egyptian embalming fluids and the heat from the volcano that preserved him.
The phone rings and it is Dr. Emanual, requesting that Paul come see him. Once he gets there, Emanual explains how he hypnotized Tina and regressed her through her subconscious memories. He recorded what she had to say, though she herself remembered none of it once she was no longer hypnotized. In the recording, she talks about the time before the eruption of Vesuvius and a curse placed upon her family by the slave Quintillus Aurelius, a powerful gladiator who had threatened to escape his cell and abduct her from her house. Her recount ends with the eruption and the destruction of her home.
Paul now asks Emanual what it all means. The other man now shows him a photograph of a stone bust that currently resides in a museum in Berlin. The bust is that of a woman – an aristocrat named Lucilla Helena – and it looks exactly like Tina. Emanual goes on to explain how Quintillus Aurelius was a slave that belonged to Lucilla’s family and how he fell in love with the woman…a love that has never died. Paul of course, is buying none of it and plans to get Tina away from Italy just as soon as possible. Despite Emanual thinking it would be best to keep her around, Paul leaves, fully intending to take Tina away.
Sigh. He’s back yet again.
“Doctor Emanual knew that Paul Mallon could never run away from what had happened. The only escape was in death – Tina’s or that of Quintillus. For Tina, her painting of Quintillus had become an obsession. An obsession that had begun with a tragic love affair two thousand years ago, when a slave in bondage had dared to love a girl from the Roman nobility. Paul, still determined to get Tina out of Italy, arrived at Tina’s apartment.”
So like the moron CLOWN just said, we see Paul arrive at Tina’s place. The place is empty and he notices that the bed has not been disturbed. He then sees Tina’s painting of Quintillus and notes that there is a new element to the painting: a hand reaching in from the side with a knife, cutting the bonds that restrict the figure of Quintillus. Realizing what it means, he hauls ass.
Just in case there were any of you in the audience that didn’t see that, or whose attention may have perhaps wandered a wee bit (i.e. fell asleep), the moron CLOWN chimes in again to explain things for us.
“The hand holding the knife could mean but one thing: the release of Quintillus from his bonds of slavery…and the canvas was still wet. The hand and the knife had just been painted, but Paul was too late. Quintillus had already been released from his bonds.”
We now jump over to the museum where Tina has used a knife to cut away the straps that were holding Quintillus Aurelius down. She just stands there, leaning against the wall and stares at him, lost in a catatonic state. Dr. Ricci arrives and not seeing Tina, prepares to go about his regular work. Outside, Paul is pulling up in a car (having arrived in about ten seconds flat).
Quintillus Aurelius begins to move and pull himself to a standing position. Ricci hears and sees him, so he rushes to a desk to retrieve a revolver. He unloads all six shots into Quintillus Aurelius, who doesn’t slow in the slightest, but just keeps walking forward until he can get his hands around Ricci’s throat. Paul rushes in and after advising Tina to run (she doesn’t, but just stands there staring off into space with that blank look as if she was watching…well, this movie), he tries to help Ricci, who is either passed out or dead. Quintillus still has his hands around the other man’s throat and is shaking Ricci’s limp form like a rag doll. Paul tries to intervene, but Quintillus just drops Ricci and pushes Paul across the room with a quick shove. Paul is knocked out cold.
The sad truth is, that shove just now was pathetic. There is no way a ten year old would be knocked over let alone knocked out by the push that Quintillus just gave Paul. While we’re talking about it, the blow that killed the security guard earlier in the film wasn’t much better. Neither looked any worse than the damage dealt by two ten year olds, each armed with thirty inches of Schedule 40 sprinkler pipe and raining blows down upon one another in a furious reenactment of a Star Wars lightsaber duel. I should know. I was at one time one of those ten year olds (and I so owned that fight).
So now Quintillus Aurelius walks over to Tina, who conveniently passes out and collapses right into his arms. He gathers her up and carries her outside. Carlo and Maria pull up before the Griffith Park Observa…er…the Museo di Pompeii just as Quintillus absconds with Tina out the back. They notice the front door is open and run inside to discover the mess.
Later, Inspector Renaldi is there as Maria and Carlo examine Paul, who is stretched out on an examination table. She tells the inspector that Paul got off easier than Ricci and did not suffer a fracture, but just a slight concussion. Renaldi is still curious about the whole situation, as he noticed that someone had deliberately released the Faceless Man. He mentions than half the cops in Naples are out looking for him now. Wait! The cops are out looking for a stoned man? Ha!
Paul comes to and asks where Tina is. The others have not seen her and do not know that she was present earlier. It is quickly assumed that Quintillus Aurelius has her. Carlo now tells Paul that they have had the chance to review the X-ray images taken of the Faceless Man and that within that stony exterior, there is the body of a man. Somebody give this guy five bucks for the understatement of the century. He goes on to say that it was probably the radioactivity in the ground that preserved Quintillus Aurelius for so long and gave him his unlife. When he was removed from the ground, he became dormant…that is, until they X-rayed him for study and thus gave him a new source of life. After having listened to Carlo’s sudden explanation for all the weirdness, I wonder…what other details is he concealing in his ass?
Renaldi gets a call that pretty much says that no one has seen Tina or Quintillus Aurelius. Paul doesn’t want to sit around and wait, but the inspector says that that is exactly what they must do.
Now we see Quintillus marching through the forest, still carrying an unconscious Tina. Mr. Annoying returns.
“For Quintillus and Tina Enright, the terror of that August day in the year 79 A.D. when Vesuvius erupted and destroyed Pompeii, was being relived. For them, this was the day. Pompeii was beginning to die under flaming ash and stone.”
Quintillus pauses at this point and begins to look around…well, he moves like he is looking around, despite the fact that he has no eyes. He is doing this because suddenly stock footage of volcanic eruptions has been overlaid into the film to help sell the fact that he is reliving the past.
Back at the museum, the call comes through from the hospital that Dr. Ricci has survived his injuries and will be okay. Maria is relieved and realizes that she may view Ricci as more than just a co-worker.
Out in the woods, we see a sheepherder, his dog and the flock they are attending. In this case the flock is comprised of about six sheep. The guy is napping, his back against a tree and when one takes into account the cricket chirps that are dubbed into this scene – thus indicating that it is night – one may wonder why in hell this guy is sleeping in the woods with his flock and not home in bed, with the sheep in a barn. I’m beginning to suspect that perhaps something funny is going on between this guy and the sheep. Not funny haha…but more like funny-ewww. Ask the dog. He’ll know.
Anyway, while this guy snoozes away, we see Quintillus in the background, walking down the path in his direction. The dog – a German Shepherd – sees the Faceless Man and starts barking. This wakes up Mr. Snooze, who catches one glimpse of Quintillus Aurelius and then turns to flee. Even more frightening than waking up to see a stone man coming towards you is watching a movie and having it constantly interrupted by an idiot. Yep, that’s right. Mr. CLOWN is back.
“There was only one escape for Quintillus and the girl her had loved for all eternity: the sea.”
What? Is he going to book passage on the Love Boat? Perhaps desiring more privacy, he intends on chartering a boat? Of course, given his lack of funds, he may have to settle for stowing way on a tramp freighter bound for Singapore.
At the museum, they get word that Quintillus has been spotted stomping through the woods, carrying an unconscious Tina and heading toward the beach – the Cove of the Blind Fisherman to be exact. Paul, in the grand tradition of B-Movie protagonists everywhere, pulls 2+2 out of his ass and comes to realizations that everyone else arrived at ages ago. He says that the date is the 24th of August and Quintillus is reliving the day Pompeii was destroyed. Maria notes that if he walks into the water with a sleeping Tina, she will drown. Oh, crap! Renaldi orders all cars to converge on the area and then everyone hauls ass to get to the beach.
Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.
At this point, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will be seeking a therapist after this movie is over in order to deal with the anxieties stemming from when people interrupt the conversations of others . Here we go again:
“Vesuvius was reaching its terrible climax of death and destruction, and the strange unreal strength of the stone man drove him on, seeking escape, seeking the water of the cove of the blind fisherman to save his beloved Lucilla Helena.”
Long about now, Quintillus Aurelius has arrived at the California coast…which in this film is standing in for the Italian coast. As he descends the hills towards the sea, cars carrying the others race along the roads to get there. Some of these shots are in broad daylight and others use the day for night technique to darken the look. Thus, there is no consistent look.
With Quintillus Aurelius just a few steps away from the water, two cars full of cops arrive. With memories of Pompeii’s destruction flittering through his stony mind, Quintillus drops Tina – quite roughly I might add. With her out of the way, the cops open fire. Naturally, this has no effect. Two cops run forward and try to scoop up Tina before Quintillus can pick her up again. POW. POW. Two blows from Quintillus (which even a blind man could have dodged) later and they’re laid out on the ground, bleeding and probably dead. Quintillus picks up Tina and resumes his walk toward the water.
Paul, Carlo, Maria and Renaldi arrive at this point. Paul calls to Tina and then races toward the water. The surviving cops stop him from getting any closer. As everyone watches, Quintillus Aurelius walks into the water with Tina…and promptly starts to dissolve. WHOOSH! The Faceless Man dissolves into powder and Tina is dumped into the water.
Paul races to retrieve her, but the cold shock of the water has revived her and she is splashing around like an epileptic in a kiddy pool. Paul carries her back ashore where she asks him why they are at the beach. She cannot remember anything! Everyone heads for home. Well, not everyone. We still have to contend with one more appearance by the true monster of the film: the CLOWN.
“The strange narrative of Quintillus Aurelius ended here, in the quiet waters of the bay of Naples. The story is finished (so is my sanity!!!) and perhaps Quintillus Aurelius has found the true Lucilla Helena where mortal men don’t walk and time is eternal.”
Fade out. The End.
There are only two words that come to mind when I think of this movie: dull and uneventful. In concept, the basic idea sounds like a good one for fans of B-movies: a body buried in the ruins of Pompeii and strangely preserved for centuries returns to life to wreak havoc on modern man. Alas, the resulting execution is rather lacking and can be better described as, “dead man stiffly walks around a time or two while everyone discusses the matter at length.” It’s as if the idea would make for a great short story, but when translated to film, there just isn’t enough there for it to be frightening or engaging. Most of the film is taken up by people talking things over and for a brief few minutes, we see the title monster in action…or as active as he can get, given his stiff demeanor.
More or less a spin on the mummy tale, this movie at least tries to develop its characters. We learn that Paul and Maria were once an item and that he was the one who ended it. One would think that would make Maria uncomfortable when Paul comes back into the picture and announces that he is now engaged to be married to Tina, but there is never a moment of awkwardness on Maria’s part. On the part of Dr. Ricci yes, who in one brief exchange shows the audience that he feels more for Maria than just platonic friendship. I give the writers kudos for setting up the potential social conflict, but it never does play out. Maria is only too happy to meet Tina and then gets along great with her. Paul never says or does anything to indicate that he still feels something for Maria and thus angering Dr. Ricci. The whole thing is set up but never examined again. If it were not for the fact that the movie is only set in Italy (and obviously filmed in California), I’d have thought a young Lucio Fulci had gotten his hands on it, for his films were notorious for establishing plot points and never returning to them again.
As for the title character, I have to say that the makeup is not that bad. Sure, on a few occasions you can clearly make out the shorts the actor is wearing under all that crusty exterior, but for the most part, the look of the monster is pretty convincing. Appearances aside, the monster is rather boring. All he does is trudge around slowly and occasionally knock someone upside the head with barely enough force to knock them over. Somehow this kills them and he is free to slowly move on…except when he nearly trips and falls on his ass when breaking through a door. Never is there any real sense of fear when he is on the loose and really, how can there be? He walks at all of two miles per hour! Talk about easy to evade. Only a true moron could be cornered by this guy (and yet that does happen in this film). I know that Egyptian mummies are not much faster, but at least there is something menacing about them. This guy just comes off as a nuisance.
Speaking of nuisances, the absolute worst aspect to this movie is the CLOWN. Lots of these old films had narration at one point or another, but it’s the movies like this, where the damn narrator just cannot seem to go away, that drives me nuts. He pops up constantly in the film and does not convey any useful information at all. In fact, all he does is explain what is happening on screen, which 99.9 percent of the time, is bloody obvious! I just cannot fathom why the producers felt the need to sprinkle these unwanted voiceovers throughout the movie. The truly sad part is that the CLOWN is voiced by Morris Ankrum, a great character actor who appeared in tons of westerns as well as several horror/sci-fi flicks.
the end, there really is not a whole lot I can say about this film.
It’s put together competently enough given its B-movie pedigree.
Sure the continuity isn’t the best from shot to shot, but that
is almost to be expected from films from this era. The music can be
a little annoying and the CLOWN is definitely annoying, but overall
the movie does not possess anything to really make it stand out as either
very bad or very good. It’s just very mediocre. A good way to
kill some time, but not something you’d want to watch too many
Boring! - This usually denotes stock footage, but despite having almost none, this film is so dull, you may want to watch something more exciting...say This Old House.
Monsters - We have one monster in this film. No it is not the 2000-year-old corpse that ambulates around, lusting after women (no Kirk Douglas jokes, please). Nope, it’s the CLOWN.
Science - I hesitate to use this icon, for the so called “science” in this film makes about as much logical sense as your average David Lynch script…as filmed by Lucio Fulci.
Violence - There is some violence – some guns fired and a few folks slapped/shoved to death, but it’s nothing compared to what the audience wishes on the filmmakers by the end.
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 2
Times people smoke: 3
Times Tina faints: 2
Times Tina screams: 12
Total gunshots fired: 23
Interruptions by CLOWN: 15
Total words spoken in film by CLOWN: 804
Total words spoken in film by Dr. Ricci: 46
Times audience nods off: undetermined
Min – Is Peter Brady nearby?
Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time you see a sign in Italian or any Italian text, take a drink.
for larger image
Dr. Fiorillo ponders the possible consequences of a third murder.
Dr. Fiorillo: “One more of these killings and they will hold me criminally responsible."
Shadow’s Comment: Hopefully along with the producers of this travesty.
The cops insist that something must be done.
Inspector Renaldi: “That thing must be killed now. Tonight! You are scientists. How do we kill it?”
Shadow’s Comment: Have you tried reading the script to it? That will at least induce a coma.
Film & Me
Another film which eluded me as a kid. It wasn’t until then late 80’s when I got my grubby little hands on a Sinister Cinema catalog that I first heard of this film. Of course knowing about it and seeing it in those days were two different things. I only had so much money to spend on mail order tapes – which were kinda pricey back then – so I bought films with which I was more familiar. Eventually, this film did pop up on television. I’m pretty sure it was on TNT’s Monstervision sometime in the 90’s and it was on that occasion that I recorded the film and watched it for the first time. Wow, what a snoozer! While the idea is cool, the movie was just not that thrilling for me to watch it more than once or twice. Of course that doesn’t stop me from buying them again on DVD.
Shadow's rating: Three Tombstones