Faces of Death II

Faces of Death II

When Make Believe Is Just Not Enough! Yup, those canny folk at Hard Gore haven't satisfied themselves with releasing the first of the 'mockumentary' Faces of Death series, one of the most infamous movie sets in existence and a standard bearer of the 'Mondo' school (cynical pseudo documentaries laying claim to being scientifically-oriented but driven only by the film-makers needs for profit and the viewer's somewhat more base needs), they've now unleashed the follow-up upon generally unsuspecting UK viewers - albeit with a few trims courtesy of our friendly neighbourhood censors at the BBFC. It seems we're too sensitive, mollycoddled, borderline psychotic or some such to be allowed to witness compulsory cuts of 2m 19s comprising the sight of fighting dogs and monkey being cruelly beaten to death in accordance with Cinematograph Films (Animals Act) 1937 and BBFC Guidelines. Not very good really, not that it matters to be honest as for the most part the picture itself is no great shakes.

Faces of Death II continues in the same vein as Faces of Death in essence comprising a series of death-related vignettes with short interludes of linking related material from mein host, bogus coroner Dr. Francis B. Gross - one Michael Carr - a suspicious character if ever I saw one, a bearded chap who puts me in mind more of a paedophile than a man of science - remind me to die many moons from where this wacko plies his trade - and just oozes fake sincerity. So, for the guys, gals and ghouls, what are the goodies? Well Faces of Death II brings us car accidents - suicide - drownings - burnings - burials - boxing - stunts - air crashes - train wrecks - executions - bombings - nuclear tests- research drugs tested on animals - whale and dolphin massacres in Japan - shootings - pollution - ritual mutilations - autopsies - death by firing squad... and much more -- all in 74 glorious minutes comprising as ever a mixture of the patently fake and not so fake archive footage, captured by a random mixture of TV crews, home video and stolen footage.

This second movie in the series is if anything more effective than the first, not very good - don't get me wrong, just in part more effective -- some of the less showy sequences such as the early graveyard scenes with talk of necrophilia and the stunts that go wrong are genuinely disturbing, despite the laughably portentous insincerity and ironic tone of fake shemp Dr Gross. The closing sequence of execution by military firing squad works fairly well too, though it may well be faked. There are basically two ways to look at this movie and others of its ilk, it can be said that this comprises a look at death in its many guises or that it is simply derisive audience manipulation, as per Cannibal Holocaust, albeit from a movie that is not in the same class of Deodato's seminal classic, or the more recent Blair Witch Project. I'd plump for the latter myself, for a true examination of violence and mortality in our existence, Shedon Renan's shattering, powerful The Killing of America, provides a far more insightful experience. Additionally, as life and science moves on, these films no longer hold the terrors they might've once did. Afterall, what possible horror can old and faked footage hold when a few clicks of a mouse can bring you to 'www.bangedup.com' and the authentic beheading video of an American in Iraq shot by Muslim extremists? Perhaps only the alarming 80's dress sense of the bogus Dr. Gross.

Given its age, the source print hardly surprisingly is less than perfect and this is an appalling excuse for a DVD print. It's presented in full frame, riddled with speckles and blemishes, shot through with dirt and grain, presents faded and muddy colours and varies wildly from overly dark to over exposed. It has to be said that many of these issues stem from the distinctly mixed original film stock, but one might at least have the hope of some kind of clean-up - but no… this is appalling no better than a mediocre VHS release.

Mono, well-enough rendered, the narration is serviceable and ambient dialogue barely so, additional sounds come across just about audibly.


What are supplemental materials, boss? Bollards.

Worth a view for the curious, but terribly dated and somewhat passé now, this holds more interest as a curio - a reminder of how denuded we all were in the bootleg days of yore when we'd all jump through hoops and trade with fellow dodgy souls from the back of beyond in the hope of adding titles like this to our collection. The atrocious audio/visual presentation is hardly any better than those bootlegs of bygone days, and the supplemental material is MIA. The disc is censored as well, which won't help as anyone with a real bent for this material will simply pick up one of the many foreign copies of this on DVD, so I guess the only real target for Hard Gore is the unsuspecting 'Joe Public' who sees this in Virgin or HMV and mistakes it for wholesome family viewing. I quite enjoyed watching it again, both as a nostalgia trip and a critical standpoint, but then again I'm not forking out hard-earned to do so. Yer pays yer money, yer takes yer choice as the old saying goes…

Review by Doc Obrero

Released by Hardgore
Region All PAL
Rated 18
Extras : see main review