JANUARY 5, 2009
Every budding horror fan remembers hearing about Faces Of Death as a young lad. “It’s got REAL deaths in it!” your cool friend would say. “You saw it?” you’d ask, and he’d lie and say yes and talk about how gory and awesome it was. Well, I am now that cool friend. But I did watch it, and quite frankly, it’s not awesome at all. Actually, it’s pretty fucking boring.
By now everyone knows that half of the footage is staged (dead giveaway – multiple camera angles on certain events when you should be able to see the other camera), which in a way makes the movie even MORE boring. If it was legitimately a bunch of footage of folks or animals really dying, then being slow would be more forgivable, because then the more “action” the movie contained would mean more people/animals really being killed, and that’s not a good thing. So if they are making shit up, why not go for broke! Show a real cattle being killed in the slaughterhouse, then fake a guy getting his head blown off or whatever. Keep it moving!
Instead, we get long stretches where real or not, the footage has no death. And at one point, there aren’t any “faces” either, because the movie stops cold(er) for a good ten minutes to warn us about the dangers of littering and pollution. I bet your schoolyard pal never boasted about the cool scene where you see a bunch of beer and soda cans on a beach. We also get lectured on hunger, World War II, nuclear weapons, and being careful while hiking. Actually, the guy who falls while rock climbing (called a “boy”, dude looks 30) is one of the few times in the movie I wasn’t sure if it was fake or real, so I guess I shouldn’t knock that part.
Another major flaw in the setup is that the narrator, Dr Frances B. Gross, not only has a ludicrous name, but he keeps saying how he’s there in the events we watch. Apparently, he traveled the entire world, took part in rituals, orgies, executions, monkeytorture, the whole shebang. But never ONCE does he appear in any of the footage, nor does anyone seem to actually address him. Where the hell is he?
All that said, it does have its moments. The gator and bear attacks are pretty funny, because everyone is Joe Steady on the camera at first, but then the moment the animal “attacks” it’s suddenly presented in “camera rolling down a hill o vision”, even from the cameras being held by people who aren’t involved with the incident. I also like the random bits that get tossed in, like when they show a French guy being assassinated sans any sort of explanation or context.
Oddly, the film’s soundtrack is more entertaining than anything. We get a creepy piano version of Old McDonald over the “farm animals becoming my sandwich” sequence, and a hauntingly beautiful piece over the electric chair stuff. The new 5.1 mix is also appropriately wacky; basically the only time the surrounds kick in is when an animal is squealing or howling. Nice.
The Blu-Ray (yes, Faces of fucking Death is on Blu-Ray, but LOTR and Armageddon and Star Wars and Jurassic Park are not) has a bunch of extras, but since the 105 minute movie left me pretty close to zzztown, I didn’t look at any of them. If I get a chance I will, but the only one that sounded interesting was an interview with the film’s editor, whom I assume isn’t going to be playing into the film’s validity. Everything else sounded like it was geared towards those among you who think this is either a. real or b. even really worth watching.
What say you?