Faces of Death

Experience the graphic reality of DEATH, close-up...

Year of Release: 1978
Genre: Horror/Documentary
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 105 minutes (1:45)
Director: John Alan Schwartz


Michael Carr ... Dr. Francis B. Gross
John Alan Schwartz ... Leader of Flesh Eating Cult (uncredited)


The most bizarre, grisly, death experiences are now documented in this graphic study of man's greatest fear - the fear of death. With uncensored never - before - filmed footage. Faces of Death captures the many portraits of death closeup. Sure to shock, horrify and even repulse. Those who dare view this brutal film, must do so at their own risk.

Traveling the world over, Faces of Death takes us inside the clinical autopsy room, down death row peering through the windows as the electric chair claims its victim, and sheds light on the bizarre cult rituals ranging from decapitations to head shrinking.

No one can view Faces of Death untouched. Each confronted with one's mortality and ultimately with the question of which face of death shall turn up next.

You don't have to like Faces of Death but you will have to see it.


Faces of Death, remindin' us that the only certainties in life are death, taxes, and more taxes when you try makin' a quick buck offa death via exploitation cinema. An speakin' of tax cheats, the reason I didn't get around to reviewin' this flick last week was cause I hadda take three days offa work to drive all over creation lookin' for Skunky Hernandez after Juanita (Skunky's wife) called me up an said he'd gotten ahold of an AM radio an ran off to overthrow the fascist power structure with those GI Jokes over at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Billy Hilliard insisted on comin' with me, even though I musta told 'im seven or eight times what those guys' Dad said about "the negro." In retrospect, I think it just made 'im wanna twist their heads off like Dos Equis caps even more'n he already did, but at least this way I had a witness in case I died from semi-automatic rifle fire. So anyhow, Billy an I jumped in the Topaz, filled 'er up at the Gas, Grass, or Cash 24-hour Fuel, Lawn Care, and ATM Station, an headed for the freeway. We musta stopped at every flea market, truck stop, an pawn shop between here an Crater Lake askin' if anybody'd seen a rust colored '74 Hesston tractor driven by a guy in bib overalls whose scent could peel an onion at 50 yards, but people just looked at us like we were tryin' to sell tortoise shell pith helmets at the airport. The whole thing woulda been a lot easier if Juanita'd maybe reported 'im missin' when it happened instead of two days later. Course, she only noticed he was missin' when all their Chia Pets started returnin' to life. In that scenario, the most logical response is to search all the closets in la casa first to make sure E.T. ain't in there screwin' with your head, so I just dropped the subject.

Eventually, we finally found 'im down at this place called "Eat/Gas" just outside of Huntington gettin' frostbite an tryin' to adjust the throttle governor on his tractor. I swear, if I've told that guy once I've told 'im a hunnerd times to stick to his 8-track player an leave that radio off. I even snapped the tuner knob off his AM dial for this specific reason, but apparently he gotten P.O.'d at his 8-track when it ate his favorite Charo tape an traded an old weed eater motor to Mark Skidman for the radio out of his '68 International. Billy an I couldn't hardly get the guy to talk to us at all other'n an occasional half English/half Spanish rant about "el hombre." Wasn't until he'd gotten halfway through the meatloaf special that he finally explained that he was goin' to help the Bundys "return America to its rightful owners," whom he'd been told were him an his fellow ranchers. So I says: "Skunky, you straw-headed nitwit! That land never belonged to anybody cept the Indians an the feds! You ain't returnin' diddly squat unless you're plannin' to rally the Paiutes an run the Pokeridge Boys outta there, an I wouldn't recommend that given what happened at Wounded Knee back in '73." Skunky looked like he was startin' to comprendo what I was sayin', so I kept the pressure on by askin' 'im what'd happen to Juanita if he went an got 'imself blown apart like a potato in the microwave tryin' to serve Yokel-Haram's cause, but all he said was; "Thees guys ain' Eendeens, main, they white as dreeven snow, ees totally safe." By now it was pretty clear that Skunky was about 24 hours from entrustin' his life's savins with Lear Capital if I didn't snap 'im out of it, so I slammed my fist down on the table an bellowed; "right, *they* are white Skunky, now, what color are YOU?" To which Skunky replied "... I... ah... sheet. Fine, I guess we cain go home, stubborn greengo." I hate to hafta do that to a guy, but Juanita threatened to come cook me dinner every night if Skunky got 'imself killed in a standoff, so I wasn't takin' any chances. Thankfully, Skunky's back home now, although I purt'near burned up the engine in the Topaz towin' his tractor the whole way back, the friggin' pendejo.

Never a moment's peace around here, an durin' my tribute to the Video Nasties no less. Don't people realize the significance of my decades old grudge against the BBFC? Course they don't, no one gives a flyin' Frito, do they? In any event, Faces of Death is the fifth in a series of ten reviews I'm doin' to stick it to the chap 30+ years too late, an it's gonna be a little weird talkin' about it since it ain't really a movie. Still, this one's especially educational with regard to how death stalks our every move like the cinematic equivalent of "Every Breath You Take," so here're just a few tidbits of wisdom that I've plucked from Death's cold, dead hands for your consideration. First, guys who travel the world in search of death for the purpose of recordin' it're generally well rounded individuals who do so strictly for educational purposes. Some folks might think you're a little off balance if you keep a library of video taped death an invite your friends over for screenins, so I just wanted to clear up that little misconception. Second, surgeons wear suits an ties under their scrubs just in case the nurse is real cute an they wanna hit a real fancy restaurant after an appendectomy. An third, whack-a-monkey is best confined to the shower. But the thing I like most about Faces of Death is that it's one of those rare flicks where the mythology surroundin' it is way more interestin' than the movie itself. These days, we know that 60% - 70% of the footage is complete BS in one way or another, but because some of the content is unquestionably real, it's fun to watch each segment looking for hints and clues to determine which ones are real an which ones aren't. By this point, the director has already gone on the record with regard to some of the segments, an even explained how they were done if they weren't real. Still, not all of the segments have been gone over with a fine-toothed-comb, so what I'm gonna do as part of this unusual review, is provide the usual summary of events, an also provide some insight as to why each one is most likely real or fake, an what evidence I've used to come to each determination. That said, it's interesting to look back at a time when the moviegoing public was more susceptible to trickery, an more importantly, a time when you couldn't just Google anything you ever wanted to know about any movie. In those days you could speculate all you wanted, but you'd never get any kind of definitive proof one way or the other about what you'd seen, and people ate that uncertainty up like corpse guts at a cult orgy. It's kinda sad to think that a flick like this cannot ever be made again, nonsense though it may be, simply because these days the script would be leaked within about five minutes an all its secrets revealed. So for anyone who may not want what little mystique this flick still has spoiled, you may just wanna skip this one.

The movie begins in an operatin' room where some guy with an enlarged marbled heart is gettin' his ticker tinkered on, cept pretty quick the director pauses the film so we'll all think the heart stopped. Then the credits roll an we get to watch some pretty nasty autopsy footage between learnin' all the phony pseudonyms of the guys who hid their identities cause they didn't wanna get chained up in a dungeon an flogged to death by Mary Whitehouse. Included here is real footage of an open heart surgery, a phony skull gettin' sawed open so the brain can be extracted, an some icky gut footage that I think are probably animal guts. Next thing we've got the doctor/narrator steppin' into a hallway that looks like somebody went a little too far down in the Yellow Pages an accidentally hired an interior defecator. The doc tells us his name is Francis Gross, an that he's got a whole library of snuff films that he'd like to share with us so he won't be the only guy out there who never gets a second date. So we start out in the Guanajuato, Mexico cemetery where the Mexican Tall Man has dug up all the cheapskates who failed to pay their plot rent an tossed their bodies into the Cryptkeeper's livin' room til they come up with the bread. Guanajuato is a real place, and at the very least, there'd be no reason to fake any of these mummies since there are plenty of real ones. That said, some of them seem to have pretty well groomed facial hair. Then we start in with some animal violence, mostly on account of it bein' easy enough to ask the guy workin' the meat hooks if it'd be okay to show an insensitive public where their pork tenderloin comes from. Plus it establishes some credibility right outta the chute so people don't immediately toss the tape out the window like a McDonald's bag on the interstate. The first thing they show us is a pitbull fight, which the director claims was faked using jelly to get the dogs interested in each other, but I kinda wonder if the guy isn't covering his butt on this one, cause one dog pretty clearly has its teeth sunk into the other as it shakes its head violently. I see no reason why it'd do that if it's just trying to lick food off of its opponent, and furthermore, you'd probably be able to see something if it had food smeared on it. So I say he's full of it, an that this was a real dog fight that he wasn't proud about includin' in his movie, but he claims it's faked. If it is, it's certainly effective. Then we've got piranhas eatin' a boa constrictor in the Amazon, only you can't see much, an when you do you'll note that the camera is submerged. Which is prolly not somethin' a cameraman'd sign on for knowin' there's a school of piranhas in a feeding frenzy directly above 'im. Then some natives blow dart the offspring of Roddy McDowell an Kim Hunter so they can take it back to camp an fry it up. Hard to say if the actual dartin' scene is real, but the dead monkey definitely is.

Meanwhile, the village women're brewin' up this spitroot concoction so that when the men get back from the hunt everybody can get sloshed an dance around the severed head of some member of a rival tribe. Course, when the head's in view, none of the natives are, so we're talkin' phony bologna. Next it's off to "the country of Africa," which musta been busted down from the rank of continent after that whole HIV stunt they pulled awhile back. Here we watch some natives puncture an emaciated cow with a knife an turn its blood into a nice, frothy cappuccino, before guttin' it. Both are definitely real, but for whatever reason, the cow bein' dressed out has a different coloration than the one bein' stuck for drinks. Then it's back to America where some farm girl decapitates Foghorn Leghorn an we hafta watch 'im run around the farm tryin' to get directions to the nearest transplant center. Chickens're just stinky birds though, so the producer figures we might be a little more outraged if we hadda watch what happens to some of your fluffier species inside a slaughterhouse. This includes cows gettin' their throats slit by a rabbi so no Jews accidentally end up in Hell, as well as sheep bein' hung up by their feet an gettin' bled out as they kick vainly at the butchers' faces. The chicken, cow, an sheep slaughter scenes are all very real, an Dr. Gross would like to take this moment to remind us that we're all barbarians. Elsewhere, we find ourselves in some kinda freak-o hipster restaurant with Middle Eastern decor, where a white guy with a classic '70s 'stache orders his flunky to bring in a monkey an stick it inside this center table compartment where its head is held in place at about salt shaker level. Then he gives the diners a set of skull crackin' mallets an they proceed to bludgeon some poor organ grinder's pet to death. Thankfully, this one's fake, an pretty obviously so. The patrons never swing their mallets very hard, an when there is an impact it's pretty clear that they're Nerf brand implements of death. Once the monkey's scalp is peeled off like the foil on a TV dinner, the waiter scoops the brain out an everybody digs in. Despite the fake head looking pretty good, it's a very different color than the original monkey, an the director has stated that the brain was actually cauliflower, which certainly looks to be the case. One guy thinks the brain is pretty tasty, but the others think it needs Ranch. Then it's out to sea where guys with tiny winkies compensate by firin' AK-47s at otters an sharks, cept it's only the mean ole sharks gettin' ventilated, so nobody really cares. The doc says that any man who hunts purely for sport should prolly be put on a government watch list, an that he'd appreciate the USPS interceptin' their monthly NRA dues just on principle. The shark in the video definitely takes a few rounds for the sake of art. Next we head on up to the Yukon Territory where a buncha canucks're usin' seal skulls for battin' practice to keep their numbers in check so they can't organize an try sackin' Vancouver. This is real footage, an the doc vows never again to wear the skin of an animal on his back. Zebra print thongs maybe, but that's it.

Then we go boatin' with Bayou Billy an watch a coupla guys blast this gator in the coconut, only the gator don't move much when it gets shot so it's hard to say whether it was real or not. Then they skin 'im an leave the body for the game warden to find. If the warden's smart, an they ain't too far from Gulf Breeze, he aughta try tyin' the gator mutilations to UFOs to prop up the ole tourist trade a little. Doesn't make a lot of sense for poachers (which these guys are alleged to be) to have a camera guy with 'em who films from the nearby bank, so I'm thinkin' the kill shot is fake. But that's just a warm up for some real sensationalized nonsense where a phony TV news reporter who looks like Napoleon Dynamite films animal control tryin' to capture a different gator, til it gets real P.O.'d an yanks the wrangler off his boat an proceeds to remind 'im why this kinda thing is best left to Paul Hogan. The actors in this scene are atrociously bad, and not only that, but the director obviously never explained to them that they aughta be speakin' normally since it was supposed to be a live broadcast. Interviews with regular people tend to feel spontaneous, an this clearly ain't. That's also beside the fact that you've got tons of jump cuts an different points of view when there's clearly just the one guy shootin' "on location." Slowin' the video down, the gator actually looks decent, so I'm wonderin' if they weren't usin' a sedated animal, although in all likelihood it was prolly just a standard inflatable prop that you might expect to see Steve Reeves wrestle in a Hercules flick. Next we've got a real short piece from what looks like a French political speech of some sort where this real fat guy's left ventricle suddenly bursts at the podium an everybody panics cause they think he's been shot. Course, we know better, but the filmmakers still show this turkey in a ninja suit claimin' to've shot the guy, before givin' out his name an providin' advice for all the kids out there interested in gettin' started in the assassination game. I don't think I needa explain why this one's a little suspect, but in addition to the really obvious part, the guy who gets shot should instinctively grab for the bullet wound, but he doesn't. Then we head into the suburbs to check out this little crackhouse on the prairie where approximately 200 cops're doin' tactical rolls all over the lawn like they're tryin' out for The Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" video. Eventually they start gettin' calls over the CBs from their wives about how hard it is to get the grass stains outta their uniforms, til they quit doin' that an launch some tear gas into the place, forcin' the guy out into a hail of gunfire. This one seems plausible, except for the fact that the cameraman is clearly never worried about gettin' hit by stray bullets, which leads me to believe it's prolly fake. The doc speculates that the breakdown of the 1950s nuclear sitcom family might be to blame.

Next thing, we head over to the L.A. coroner's office where he's got enough corpses layin' around to serve as TV trays for every morgue attendant in America, all of which are sufferin' from various stages of necrosis an general ickiness. I'm gonna say real on this section given that the guy in the film really was the coroner at the time, an cause it's actually legal to put these types of things on film, so long as no specific details about the deceased are revealed. The doc pretty much tells us that L.A. is a hellhole an thanks God for formaldehyde, cause otherwise the unsolved murder tally'd be higher'n the unemployment rate for guys with neck tattoos. Then it's on to some federal prison where an execution's bein' carried out by a guy wearin' one of those emo-goth bracelets they sell at the Hot Topic. This one's via gas chamber, an in addition to it bein' highly illegal to video tape an execution, this prisoner oddly has no choice words for the guy strappin' 'im in, an you can't see any kind of gas inside the chamber with the condemned. Then we listen to the case history of some other scumbag who's about to get Bride of Frankenstein hair in Ole Sparky, an once he's all strapped in we watch 'im burp up a buncha Alka Seltzer tablets until his eyeballs dribble down his face like mascara at a Titanic screenin'. This one doesn't look bad, but again, recordin' this would be highly illegal, an he also don't have nothin' to say to the people strappin' 'im into the high voltage chair. An last on the execution trail we got this real quick scene shot in "an unidentified Middle Eastern country," where some infidel's gettin' his head hacked off by an I Dream of Jeannie extra. This one seems plausible enough, but given what a weenie swing that executioner puts on the alleged white devil, I'm thinkin' melon city. We're talkin' Arabian Gallagher here. Then the doc tells us all about cults an how they used to operate back in the good ole pre-Scientology days, while we watch this group of Mansonites chow down on the ooey gooey extra chewie innards of a corpse that's been generously donated by the cannibal goodwill up the street. We're talkin' SNL skit on this one I'm afraid, but there's at least a little breast action once everybody resolves to cut back on their caloric intake an proceed to make gut sluts outta themselves like the nekkid psycho cat-women in Bloodsucking Freaks as they roll in the gut pile like happy coyotes. Up next we move onto one of your more respectable cults that constitute a significant part of a key votin' bloc out in the Appalachians, an these people basically pass around rattlers like a doobie in the back of The Mystery Machine an roll around on the ground havin' evangelical seizures til they get tired an start pledgin' their state's delegate votes to Ted Cruz. This is, of course, totally real. An a whole lot scarier'n anything else in the flick. Then it's on to speculation about how the full moon drives people to suicide when it ain't drivin' 'em to lycanthropy, the proof of which is revealed to be some unhappy housewife who's out on the ledge of 'er apartment buildin' in the middle of the night after 'er husband came home drunk with lipstick on his collar, or somethin'. This one is half real and half faked.

The woman really did jump from her apartment window, however, the original footage did not have the impact of her striking the road below, so that part was staged an spliced onto the scene where she really jumps. If you didn't know any better, you'd assume the entire thing was fake based upon the fact that there's no one gathered near the base of the building as is often the case with morbid curiosity seekers, an because there's a convenient ambulance pullin' in about 10 seconds after the jump. So really, their attempt to add realism to an incomplete shot not only makes it less convincin', but kinda trivializes something that really happened. Course, for all we know, there were guys below waitin' to catch 'er at the time of the original event. Elsewhere, we get to gawk at some drugged out jabroni who got higher'n Rush Limbaugh's blood pressure durin' the State of the Union address, washin' up dead on a beach after goin' Surfin' U.S.A. without a board. This one is said to have been a real body that the film crew just happened onto while they were in the area, an given how tame an nondescript it is, I see no reason to doubt that. Next it's on to some unfathomably well lit cavern in the middle of nowhere (or maybe Carlsbad, one of the two) where some kid tried sneakin' in to get Batman's autograph, an ended up gettin' a stalagmite lodged up his hinder. The doc sez thou shalt not spelunk when thy head's in a funk. The sheer amount of lighting in this cave makes it clear we're lookin' at a staged sequence, rather'n somethin' real. The director was gettin' a little bit claustrophobic down in that cave, so now we head into the great outdoors where two conveniently placed tourists who can both afford camcorders in 1978 just happen to get footage of some proto-Timothy Treadwell findin' out why the signs say not to feed the bears. It's presumed he meets a grizzly demise, but the camerawork is shakier'n the '67 Roger Patterson Bigfoot video, so who knows. I do knows that it's very obviously fake. So now, realizin' we've seen a pretty lengthy string of major bullstuff, the editor pulls out some stock footage of damage caused by natural disasters, even though there's not really much to speak of in the way of visual death. He then uses nature's fury as a half-assed segue into the question of whether it'll be nature or man that destroys civilization first, as we watch garbage pile up on the beach an observe corporate America pollute the environment while simultaneously twistin' their Snidely Whiplash mustaches to the tune of this hippie folk song called "Jesus Doesn't Live Here Anymore." Despite this issue bein' a perfectly valid one, the montage is such over the top propaganda that you can't help but snicker an think to yourself that the only thing missin' in this sequence is Iron Eyes Cody gettin' misty eyed next to the freeway. The footage here is all real, in addition to bein' unabashed filler content. Not satisfied with only one political statement, we then move on to some draft dodgin' Vietnam protesters who take things a little too far when one of 'em lights 'imself on fire like a Buddist Monk to see if maybe some psycho roastin' his chestnuts on film'll make Richard Nixon call off the war.

The guy on fire here is a stuntman, an even though they've spliced bits an pieces of video together before like a buncha wannabe Roger Cormans, I think the entire sequence was shot specifically for the movie, mostly because the video quality is just too clean. Then the doc realizes we're startin' to get a little snarky about all the sappy philosophy an breaks out the WWII archival footage an make us watch a buncha concentration camp sequences so we'll hafta take 'im seriously again. Although that's kinda hard after hearin' 'im state that "no one will ever know the exact number of people who lost their lives during the four years this planet was the stage for WWII." Just wait'll he finds out it lasted six years, then he'll be 50% more depressed than he already was. So with visions of Auschwitz an Birkenau totally killin' our buzz, we then press onward to various third world countries where we hafta watch people die of preventable diseases while the filmmakers generally exploit their sufferin' to pad out the flick, while layin' the groundwork for all those Sally Struthers Christian Children Fund ads they used to run where purt'near 5% of your donation goes to help feed the starvin' people of the African branch of skid row. These are, of course, real. Now that we're once again safely appalled an less likely to snicker at any bad makeup jobs the producers may throw at us, it's off to the air show where some poor bastard with a defective chute jumps out of a plane an bounces off the ground like a Penthouse Pet on a trampoline. This one seems like it's probably real, because it's a long way away an you know that if it were fake these guys would've tried to jazz it up a bit by makin' it a whole lot closer an bloodier. So, figurin' that we prolly believed the last stunt gone wrong, it's on to the set of a movie ("Hell Raisin," which really should be a vehicle for the Satanic heel turn of the California Raisins) where a stunt goes wrong as a vehicle lands conveniently near what's supposed to be a real film crew. This one might almost be passable if they'd realized people were smart enough to read the movie title on the clapper-board. From here on out it's mostly railway disaster stock footage, airline disasters, an freeway crashes, the vast majority of which are definitely real, an I'm inclined to think that the one especially gooey shot of a medic scoopin' up brain matter off the pavement into a Ziploc is prolly real as well, given that a lot of people in the shot had ID badges. Basically, this is like one of those road rage videos they make you watch in traffic school after you get stinko an wrap your Dodge Dart around a 7-Eleven, so it gets a little nasty. An really, we needed that last segment, cause the last piece involves the doc tellin' us about this guy who got real depressed when his whole family up an died on 'im an started hauntin' his house. Can't really blame the writer for tryin' to wrap up the movie this way, but it certainly sends the flick out on a whimper rather'n a bang.

Alrighty, well, kinda saps all the mystery out of it breakin' it down by segment, but then I don't think too many people really see Faces of Death through the same eyes they did when they rented it in their teenage years anyway. Still, I don't wanna dump on anyone that was taken in by it in their younger years; after all, a lot of the trickery was effective due to the fact that the average person doesn't know what goes into making a movie. Because other than noticing the various production methods that shouldn't exist in things that're normally passed off as home videos, many of the effects are pretty convincing. For instance, if you're not paying attention to see whether multiple cameras are being used in a situation that clearly shouldn't have them, or keeping an eye out for excessive jump cuts in something that should be a continuous shot, the staging of these things would likely be lost on you. Let's also not forget that I'm looking at this thing in 2016, when there've been three sequels, multiple imitators, and statements from the crew that worked on it explaining how they did a lot of the scenes. That's a whole lot different than watching it on some god-awful 5th generation VHS tape in 1985, particularly since nothing like this had ever been seen before (unless you'd tracked down one of the Italian Mondo flicks) and people were a lot less skeptical in general. After all, a lot of this stuff happens on a semi-regular basis, and when *some* of the footage is completely undisputed in its authenticity, why couldn't these types of events be captured on video? Certainly, people were a little more gullible in those days when it came to cinema, because let's not forget that there were (and probably are) people who believed that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was real, or that it was at least based on a real incident that happened. There's another flick from the Video Nasties list, Snuff, that people believed depicted someone actually being murdered on screen, and of course, the most famous instance would probably be Cannibal Holocaust, where an Italian judge actually forced Ruggero Deodato to produce the cast members of the movie because he was prepared to charge the guy with murder. It's kind of ironic to think that these days, if somebody really did sneak a legitimate snuff murder into a movie, the majority of the audience probably wouldn't even notice, just based on the fact that we've become so skeptical. Of course, filmmakers these days are pretty well aware of that and thus tend to get stupid with the comedy to compensate. They subscribe to the notion that if you deliberately give the audience something to laugh at, they can't possibly laugh at you. Troma is really the originator of that technique, and it's part of why I can't hardly stand most of their movies, but Faces of Death, despite all its goofiness, has a purity about it that I feel has been lost. Seems to me that getting the MST3K treatment really scares the crap outta directors these days, which has led us to our present cookie cutter offerings.

Anyhow, let's bash this thing's primate brain in and see if it tastes like chicken or cauliflower. The plot, or at least the advertised premise, you'd have to say would have been revolutionary for the time. Admittedly, the precursor to Faces of Death was the Mondo flick, which were real documentaries that featured just about any kind of footage that might be considered controversial or sensational. But those were produced in Italy long before the advent of VHS, and thus weren't well known to audiences outside of Europe, while Faces of Death came along just a few years before VHS really took off, and got a great deal more exposure. So it's one of those cases where being more popular ends up being more important than being first, kinda like how Halloween is often considered the first real slasher film even though there were a few others of lesser quality that came before it. The acting is, generally speaking, pretty bad, and because the producers were trying to pass the documentary off as being real, there are very few cast members that actually received credit. The doctor/narrator, I think, is pretty decent at conveying a clinical, monotone persona, based upon what is portrayed to have been years of experience dealing with death. But when you take a look at the players in the individual skits, we're talkin' the undercard of a middle school talent show. That said, if everyone involved were masterfully skilled thespians, it would hurt the "realism" even more. Acting natural, like the average nobody who bears witness to something and gets interviewed for the 11 'o clock news strikes me as being rather difficult, once you've been professionally trained, so I say the acting isn't as damaging as it would be to an actual movie. Only one acting credit worth mentioning in the confirmed cast, and that'd be Michael Carr for his role in Flying Disc Man from Mars. The special effects, by and large, are actually pretty good, and rather creative. Honestly, it's way more interesting to see how they're gonna segue into their next face of death and how far they'll go to try shoehorning different scenes into each category, than it is to just sit and watch the clips. And while I'm not gonna run through each effect again, as I've already given a reasonably detailed account during the plot summary, I thought they did an excellent job with their effects. There are those who may suggest otherwise because the flick was at least originally claimed to be authentic, but knowing what we know now, I'm not going to hold it to a standard that implies the effects must be garbage, simply because they're only effects.

The shooting locations for the staged stunts are adequate, despite being nearly irrelevant with regard to the movie's overall score. I mean, when most of the segments last little over a minute, the shooting location, so long as it isn't completely ridiculous, is of little consequence. So basically, they neither help nor hurt. The soundtrack is the one aspect that hints at the filmmakers not taking the project too seriously, as it's completely off the wall goofy at times. I think what everyone who watches this flick is likely to remember most in the way of tunes is that super cheesy "Jesus Doesn't Live Here Anymore" song that plays over the scenes of environmental defilement. There's no way anybody's taking that scene seriously with that song playing over it, cause it's nothing less than a paragon of hokedom. From there you've got what sounds like a kid humming into a paper towel tube for one of the sequences in the third world countries (along with some tango music while the python's gettin' stripped down by the piranhas), some stereotypical, out of place Arab harem music during the San Francisco cult sequence, and a bit of upbeat swing music when the lady on the 9th floor is confusin' the street below for a mosh pit. But it also has a single piece that you'd probably refer to as its "main theme," that is interpreted several times with different musical styles each time, kinda like what they do in Phantasm, just with a decidedly less incredible piece of music. I'm not really sure what they were going for here, but it pretty much goes completely against the general grim tone of the movie. So it's a little like Last House on the Left in that regard. Overall, what we've really got here is what happens when you throw a medical drama, Mondo film, Children's Christian Fund advertisement, and that sappy American Humane Society commercial with the Sarah McLachlan song into a blender. At this point, I think the only real reason to watch it is for the historical significance, and to see what all the fuss was about. Because ultimately, it's one of those flicks where once you've seen it, there's really no reason for an encore.

Rating: 35%