Faces Of Death (1978) (Video Nasty review #6)

Director: John Alan Schwartz

Starring: Michael Carr

“During the past 20 years I know that my compulsion to understand death was much greater than just an obsession. My dreams have dictated my mission. But now it is time to witness the final moment, to discover the circle that forever repeats ifself. The end of the beginning or the beginning of the end? I’ll leave that decision to you.” (Dr Gross, Faces Of Death)

I’ve been putting off watching Faces Of Death for years but I knew that my pledge to eventually watch all 72 video nasties meant that one day I’d have to grin and bear it. With my fiancee on holiday in France, I figured there was no time like the present. As I expected, Faces Of Death is fucking horrible.

Ironically, this is actually a real drowned corpse that a member of the film crew came across by pure chance during the film's production

This gruesome ’70s film is part documentary, part mockumentary, a film that claims it wants us to consider death and make us question the ways in which we kill and be killed, but in reality it’s just an excuse to show scene after scene of grotesque footage. It’s since been admitted that around 40% of the footage was faked, but that of course means around 60% was real and that’s just macabre.

Of course, even if it hadn’t been admitted that much of Faces Of Death was fake, these days it’d be much easier to tell anyway. The film originally gained notoriety and popularity in the early days of VHS, where people would rent and copy the taboo tape, passing it around their friends and constantly degrading the already fuzzy picture quality in the process. This made it easier to believe all the footage was real, because the detail lost in the tape quality would be filled in by the viewer’s subconscious and made “realistic” in their heads.  Continue reading “Faces Of Death (1978) (Video Nasty review #6)”

Beyond The Mat (1999)

Director: Barry Blaustein

Starring: Mick Foley, Jake Roberts, Terry Funk, Vince McMahon

“My mother was 13 years old when I was born. Why? Because my dad raped a little girl that was in a room asleep. My dad was going out with my mother’s mother. There you go. There’s some bones for Jake the Snake.” (Jake Roberts, Beyond The Mat)

I know professional wrestling isn’t “real” – I know the results are predetermined, I know the storylines are set months in advance and I know winning a championship belt is nothing more than a backstage reward for your in-ring ability and the way you connect with the crowd. So does Barry Blaustein, the documentary filmmaker who spent a few years making Beyond The Mat. But that doesn’t mean the athletes involved (and they are athletes – they might have already picked a winner but it still hurts) don’t often go through both physical and mental hell to bring an entertaining show to the public. This film aims to expose that torment.  Continue reading “Beyond The Mat (1999)”