Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A few descriptions and FIEND WITHOUT A FACE (92)

I'm a little blank today. I don't know why, but I've got really almost no observations or absolutely fascinating gems of wisdom to force in to your computer screen. I just feel a little standard this morning/afternoon.

Luckily for me this city is full of the strange and amazing and I thought I might just jot down a few of the people and things I've been privy to around town.

- I was at the ballpark last night for my first Giants game and the woman in front of us absolutely hated Alex and I. She had children, and a husband, and I guess on occasion the combination of Alex and I can be a bit crass or a bit inappropriate for children under the age of ten or so, but this woman glared at us as if we were hitting her children when she was in the bathroom. Okay, so I did spill a bit of beer on her child's seat (I swiped at it with my bare hand), and Alex, once a little tipsy and riled, was voicing a few less friendly observations ("It's the highlights in her hair that really do it for me"), but this woman was staring us down like some sort of demon spawn.

- Baseball games are strange when you're an adult and you're attending a baseball game involving two teams you could care less about. The magic of the ballpark isn't as present as when you're a kid. You're not staying up past your bedtime, the snacks aren't free (in truth they're ridiculously overpriced) and you notice the small things (empty seats, trashy people, etc.) that sort of wear at the magical feeling you had when you were a kid. Sure, it's still enjoyable to venture out to the park and watch a couple of pitchers duel. I still got excited when homeruns were hit, but the most exciting part of the night for me was just hanging out with Alex. We just sat there and chattered about whatever (almost none of it related to baseball), and the game sort of just slipped on by. The other thing you realize about baseball when you're living in an uber-liberal city like San Francisco is that it's a conservative sport. The people crowding the stands, throwing back beers, hooting and hollering were people I never see in San Francisco. I don't know what woodworks they hide in, but they are out in force at a baseball game and I was a bit shocked by it. Maybe it's just getting older, maybe all the finite details just start to pop out in everything.

Just a few thoughts.

These 1950s horror films are kind of a riot. Where The Blob (91) was a sort of gee-shucks poke at middle America, Fiend Without A Face (92) is a full-forced attack on Communism and brainwashing and the fear of the Red Tide creeping over the good people over the United States as well as the threat of the proliferation of nuclear power. The titular Fiend Without A Face is a unknown entity, a sort of crawling, shuffling, invisible beast that slips around in the dark, killing those when they least expect it. A military base in the podunk Winthrop wilds is the setting for most of the film, as the non-existent creature starts dining on local and GIs alike.

What's interesting is the subtext. This is the time in America where everyone was scared of there neighbors and Russia and Cuba dropping bombs on us. Nobody trusted anybody, everyone built nuclear-proof shelters in their backyard, the radio released dire news of an upcoming strike on US soil seemingly weekly. The Fiend Without A Face embodies these fears, this unseen force that penetrates our military forces, killing without warning. The military base in the film is of course testing nuclear weapons in an attempt to protect the states, and the townsfolk turn against it, blaming them for the deaths and the downturn in their cows milk. The fiend is the Russians, and the seeping, silent death that comes with a nuclear attack. Nobody can predict it, or plan for it, not even the strong-jawed, fast-talking might of the military.

People were scared in the 1950s and thus Arthur Crabtree, the director of the film, plays against these fears.

I'm halfway through, and I'll give a little wrap-up on the film tomorrow.

Wednesday: Fiend Without A Face (92)

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