What we believe is unimportant. The only important things are what we can prove.
At an archeological dig in Pompeii, a workman finds a jewel box and the calcified body of a gladiator. While it is being transported to the museum the body comes to life and kills the truck driver causing the truck to crash. The stone body is found several feet away from the smashed truck.
Museum director Dr. Carlo Fiorello (Luis Van Rooten) enlists the aide of Dr. Paul Mallon (Richard Anderson) to help him study the body. Fiorello relays to Mallon that he feels the body is not actually dead. Mallon dismisses the theory even when they find fresh blood on the stone body’s hands.
In the meantime Dr. Emanuel (Felix Locher) translates the Etruscan writing etched into a brooch found inside the jewel box. The writing tells of a curse from a gladiator Quintillus Aurelius put on his owners. Quintillus is the calcified body now residing in the museum.
Mallon’s fiancée Tina Enright (Elaine Edwaards) is an artist. Her latest painting is a portrait of the gladiator Quintillus. She envisioned him in her dreams. She becomes obsessed with Quintillus. She believes the faceless body is coming for her. That night she sneaks into the museum to sketch Quintillus. The body comes to life. When Tina screams and faints. A watchman, hearing the scream, runs in and shoots Quintillus. The bullets have no effect. Quintillus kills the watchman and pins the brooch to Tina’s jacket. By the time help arrives the body is again stiff.
To prove that Quintillus can move, the scientists place the brooch near him. Quintillus gets up, picks up the brooch and approaches them menacingly. Paul tries to stop him with an axe but Quintillus knocks him aside and heads for Tina’s house. When Paul and the police get there they find Quintillus once again motionless. Quintillus is taken back to the museum and strapped down to prevent him escaping again. The problem now is how do you kill a man made of stone, and why is this thing so obsessed with Tina?
“The Curse of the Faceless Man” was released in 1958. It’s basically a mummy movie but the mummy is covered in calcified ash instead of wrappings. The movie tries to give the creature a scientific explanation for what caused the stone man and what activated it whereas a regular mummy is just activated by a curse and some tana leaves. They would have been better off just staying with the curse. It makes a better horror motivation. Trying to explain it just adds plot holes that can’t really be filled adequately. I think it takes away from the movie a little bit, but not enough to ruin it.
Also there is an unnecessary narration given by Morris Ankrum. It doesn’t add to the movie, and fortunately it doesn’t actually take away from it either. It’s just there. It’s a short movie, only about 67 minutes, which is good since the plot is simple. Any longer and it would drag. It’s an enjoyable movie. The ending is interesting as far as what happens to the stone man. If you like old mummy movies this is a nice twist on the genre. It’s a fun little snippet of a 50’s monster movie.
In reality the bodies of Pompeii are not calcified people but hollow spaces in the ash layer where soft tissue use to be. Plaster is poured into the cavity. When the plaster hardens the ash is chipped away revealing what the body looked like at death. Although the soft tissue dissolved over time, the bones did not. The plaster bodies of Pompeii still have their bones in them.