FACES OF DEATH: FACT OR FICTION? October 20 2014 | POSTED BY Nicole Mikuzis
To this day, the name FACES OF DEATH inspires fear and awe in filmgoers around the world. Banned by authorities from Australia to Germany, the sheer brutality and shock value of Conan LeCilaire’s mondo classic is both staggering and awe-inspiring – a true testament to the dark ingenuity of the young director and his still-lost crew.
While LeCilaire eventually opened up about his involvement in the movie, virtually every member of the crew – most all of whom used fake names – has remained silent about his or her work on the controversial classic.
Is it because such a large number of the deaths in the movie are real, and that even some of the staged scenes have yet to be proven fake? Did governments’ rampant banning of the film across the world, or the furor it created upon its release in 1978, keep LeCilaire’s crew quiet? Or are there even more secrets behind the creation of FACES OF DEATH that, nearly 40 years later, we have yet to uncover?
What do we know as the truth? We’re certain of John Allan Schwartz’s involvement, which included writing the film under a different pseudonym and appearing as a cannibalistic cult leader in one of the movie’s staged segments. We know that actor Michael Carr portrayed the film’s ghoulish narrator, Francis B. Gröss, who would go on to appear in a number of the film’s sequels. And we also know that various scenes, such as the monkey brains and jailhouse execution, were staged – but no one knows who the actors in these segments were.
Shortly after the film’s release in 1978, whistleblowers came forward to claim that several of the staged scenes were actually real, and that the reason actors and actresses were not noted was because we’d just witnessed their deaths on film! As the film picked up steam on the midnight movie circuit, differing opinions over the authenticity of certain scenes became more passionate – and intense.
In a modern world where death is all too prevalent in our media, FACES OF DEATH continues to thrill, terrify, and inform – having become more than just a film, but a landmark of human extremes that still carries with it many unanswered questions.
Now nearly 40 years old, Gorgon Video celebrates the mondo masterpiece – re-releasing the groundbreaking exploitation classic on VHS with its original box art.