There are some horror films which are so real they disturb you for years. Faces of Death, which had it’s 40th anniversary recently, leaves you with memories you will never erase.
Remember the old Vipco Scream Collection releases which had plain black front covers and a small synopsis on the back but no images?
Well, Faces of Death movies were also released with black box art but contained an image of a skull on the front. Faces of Death stood out on shelves and when picked up you felt like you were holding something illegal due to its reputation. The films bragged on their marketing material that they’d been banned in 46 countries; to them they saw that as an achievement.
I discovered Faces of Death while I was at High School many moons again and it left its mark on me forever. These were the films the media and government wanted destroyed and taken away from us. Faces of Death provided something different for a niche market that wanted something more extreme; it was exactly what I’d been waiting for.
The truth of the matter is, beyond all the controversy and the filmmakers intention to cause offense; Faces of Death movies were groundbreaking in the horror genre and were bloody well made.
These ‘found footage’ clips served as an anthology of blood, guts and great special effects. Showing a mixture of horrific deaths which could happen in real life alongside some exaggerated ‘ideas’ which stretch the powers of imagination to its limits but still shock you.
Faces of Death fooled viewers into thinking they were watching real recorded death scenes, when in fact they were viewing masterfully choreographed set pieces with excellent special effects. You could argue, Faces of Death worked the same way as a magician in that respect. If it made you look away or squirm, it had beaten you.
The uproar among society at the time was due to lack of understanding of what the films were trying to achieve. The reality is, you would never find Real Death Compilations in your local HMV so this was actually no worse than any other horror of that time period. The gore was full-on but never enough to put you off your dinner.
People can sit through watching the news on TV seeing real death scenes in war torn countries but cannot stomach watching a mondo horror movie which immitates it. That is the biggest contradiction of all.
Faces of Death ran from 1978 to 1996 with 4 releases plus a further 2 compilations and a Making of documentary. If it had been released now, people would have been more mentally prepared for it since we’ve been served a ton of brutal exploitation & ‘torture porn’ movies since then.
You might find it hard to sit through Faces of Death, but it is worth your patience as you will definately never forget it. It’s 2019, you’ve waited long enough to give it a try. Challenge yourself, I dare you…