Dir: Conan LeCilaire, 1978
This review is of the uncut version
How do you review a film like this?
Faces Of Death isn’t a film at all, really. There is no plot or characters. No narrative. What we have is a series of scenes depicting (allegedly) real death.
However, it has long been proven that Faces Of Death is, in fact, is around 40% staged, finally putting to rest the oft repeated myth that it’s a real snuff film.
Unsurprisingly, the tone of the movie is grim and dingy, leaving the viewer feel dirty and in desperate need of a shower.
For the purpose of entertainment, we are “treated” to such “delights” as death by electric chair (complete with his eyeballs bleeding and a foaming at the mouth), some genuine animal cruelty and a real life fatal accident.
But, unlike a proper documentary, there is nothing to be gained from seeing Faces Of Death. No knowledge or understanding is proffered, nor any entertainment value. The whole purpose of this is, simply, to shock and appal.
Released in the UK during the boom of video recorders in the early eighties, the tape was seized by police, under the impression that it was a genuine snuff film. Strangely, the version released was edited print, missing several notable sequences, including the execution by electric chair that graced the front cover.
Successfully prosecuted, the tape went unseen for many years until James Ferman’s departure at the BBFC. Following his retirement, the board began to relax their stance on censorship with releases of The Exorcist and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre proving that they were finally catching up with the times.
Infamous video nasties such as I Spit On Your Grave and Cannibal Apocalypse, were being given approval the British censors which opened the flood gates for previously prohibited material. Naturally, Faces Of Death and it’s sequels soon found their way into the screening room of Soho Square. The original 1978 feature, was passed with only minimal cuts to the animal cruelty and the violence left intact.
Faces Of Death takes great delight in the pain and suffering of human nature, with a wallowing in the misery of morbid curiosity.