"Faces of Death (also released as The Original Faces of Death) is a 1978 mondo film which guides viewers through explicit scenes depicting a variety of ways to die and violent acts. The film was written by John Alan Schwartz (credited as 'Alan Black' for writing) and directed by Conan LeCilaire (also John Alan Schwartz). Schwartz also took credit as second unit director, this time as 'Johnny Getyerkokov'. He also appears in one of the segments in this film, as the leader of the alleged flesh eating cult in San Francisco and puts in cameo appearances in several other films in this series. This film stars Michael Carr as the narrator, and 'creative consultant' called 'Dr. Francis B. Gröss'. John Alan Schwartz has gone on record as saying this film's budget was $450,000 and there are estimates that it has grossed more than $35 million worldwide in theatrical releases, not including rentals.
The film is often billed as Banned in 40+ Countries, but actually it has only been banned (at least temporarily) in Australia, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Although several of the 'human death- scenes are obvious fakes (with Allan A. Apone, make-up and special effects artists for the film saying that about 40% of it is fake), some of the footage is genuine. Famous scenes of death from the media are included, such as stock footage of a napalm bombing in Vietnam, various newsreel footage, and wartime footage of Adolf Hitler. Also featured are the actual on-camera deaths of a variety of animals, including seals being clubbed to death and animals being killed on the slaughterhouse line. In their book Killing for Culture, authors David Kerekes and David Slater note that the nadir of the film is the inclusion of an extreme fatal accident; 'the shattered remains of a cyclist are seen under a semi-tractor trailer. The camera pans long enough to capture paramedics scooping up blood clots, brain matter, and clumps of hair from the tarmac – this incident is authentic and culled from newsreels.'
Christopher Kulik of DVD Verdict wrote, 'The YouTube generation will be unable to comprehend what purpose the film served thirty years ago, and thus it's difficult to ignore how hopelessly dated Faces of Death really is. In short, it's a cinematic experiment which has long outlived its effects, although it remains compelling for film and horror buffs viewing the film in the proper perspective. For the curious virgins, I say give it a shot only if you can handle what has been described up until this point; if you can get through Faces of Death, then you can get through just about anything. Feel free to judge for yourself.'
In 2008, the film was re-released on DVD accompanied by a documentary called 'Faces of Death Fact or Fiction' which featured extensive interview with the film's editor Glenn Turner (credited as "James Roy"). Turner explains how they used numerous film techniques and tricks to make the fake footage appear real.
Faces of Death was ranked #50 on Entertainment Weekly's "Top 50 Cult Films of All Time" in 2000."
Honestly, this came out when I was a kid. It was the most taboo thing imaginable. Everybody thought it was real, that it was the absolute worst thing ever, that you should NEVER SEE IT because you'd just be scarred for life. It was a deepy culturally significant event.
Nowadays, however, it's a totally face piece of shit, but man, back then, this was the hardest shit imaginable.
I am SOOOOOO glad to know that the monkey scene was fake! Like a weight lifted from my childhood!
Anyway, buckle up...