If you’ve never seen Fiend Without A Face, drop everything you’re doing and grab that sucker right now. Night of the Living Dead owes a huge debt of gratitude to that film, as Romero stole the whole zombie siege idea straight from this film. There’s a reason the titular creatures made our Forgotten Monsters of Filmland list.
The 1958 flick rose far above its campy premise, attaining a release by Criterion in recent years. The story revolves around a mad scientist in Canada who manages to create a new form of life by sapping into energy from a nearby American nuclear power plant, a life form that soon breaks free and wreaks havoc on the neighboring Canadian community. Normally this wouldn’t bother an American base but since this life form is an invisible brain strangles folks with its spinal column without them even realizing it was there, it’s a lot of trouble. Despite the silly premise it’s a surprisingly gripping film that showcases some fantastic stop motion animation at the climax.
For years talk has been thrown around about a remake, with everyone from to Joe Dante and Lucky McKee (May) involved at stages, but Fangoria finally talked to the man who currrently holds the rights to the film- the writer and producer of the impeccable Street Trash, Roy Frumkes.
Fango caught up with him this weekend at the Saturday Nightmares event in Jersey and talked about his plans for a remake. He’s obviously a man who wants to pay homage to the original film while doing his old thing, and even has plans to get Richard Gordon (the producer for the original film) to play a scientist in the film. Gordon owned the rights to the film and Frumkes optioned them on January 1st, writing a first draft in two months and giving himself another month to research it.
“I’ve wanted to do this film for 40 years,” he told Fango, “so I already had it all in my head, and it wasn’t hard to write. What I didn’t have was the technical information; I’m no science buff. Now I’m interviewing scientists, getting the technology straight.”
In doing his resarch on military experiments he actually talked to Colonel John Alecander, who George Clooney was modeled after in The Men Who Stare At Goats. “So I figured he might have something to say about lifeform materialization. I called and asked if I could speak to him for a few minutes, and he said, ‘Certainly.’ He’s a military guy, very serious. I said, ‘I’m writing this script, and the theme is lifeform materialization,’ and he said, ‘We did that already.’ So that call yielded some good information!
He plans to break it down for shooting and budgeting and June and try to find the cash to make it in the six months afterwards, looking for a director since he’s decided not to helm it. But his idea for the film certainly sounds solid. “I believe that since so many people have seen the original, I can’t wait for the third act to show the fiends,” he says. “They’re going to come in in act two, and then the third act is something completely new; it goes in a different direction there. My favorite screenwriter is Nigel Kneale, and I see Fiend Without A Face as very much a Quatermass film; that’s the style it’s taking. It’s set in a think tank in the Berkshires, and it’s not about young people. It’s a mature film, but it has a Street Trash sensibility, so the people who like my work will not be disappointed.”
Head over to Fangoria for the full interview. Our very best goes out to Frumkes, truly one of the coolest and most down to Earth individuals you’re likely to meet. We also hope that he can finally get the long-talked about Street Trash sequel (that we broke the news about three years ago!) off the ground!