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The Secrets of “Faces of Death” Finally Revealed

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Faces of Death



Live puppies are a delicacy in some cultures. If you need proof just watch Faces of Death. Younger viewers may not be familiar with the movie, but horror fans of the 80’s know of the controversy behind it. iHorror talks with the man who directed the commentary and featurette for the 30th anniversary DVD, and he reveals some of the secrets to this cult classic

Faces of Death

Is Faces of Death the most shocking film ever?

Ask any horror movie fan old enough to remember the genre 30 years ago, and he or she will probably tell you about their first experience with Faces of Death, arguably one of the first “found footage” movies ever made. Faces of Death portrayed itself as a film compilation of real suicides, deaths, and autopsies.

Related image

Coming to a Grizzly end (via IMCDb)

The movie includes 105 minutes of, among other things, footage of an autopsy, piranha attacks, a beheading, a Grizzly bear mauling a tourist, a drowning victim, a suicide, and a cannibal orgy. This footage is real and all of the deaths and disembowelments are genuine. Aren’t they?

Try to determine if you think the film delivers what it promises:

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT (NSFW):

Media outlets and politicians alike blamed the film for the delinquency of the period. This fervor created an instant cult classic that eventually would earn it a place in horror history.

Is Faces of Death Real?

The main question on everyone’s mind who watched it was, “Is this real!?” iHorror finally has the answer.

Michael R. Felsher, owner and founder of Red Shirt Pictures, a production company that provides documentaries, director commentary, and bonus content for DVD and Blu-Ray distributors, talks to iHorror about his experiences with Faces of Death and its director, Conan Le Cilaire (not his real name), who provides the commentary for the Blu-Ray edition.

“He has a whole separate career aside from what he did on Faces of Death,” Felsher said, “and he used a pseudonym dating back to when the movie first came out. He’s not ashamed of it, but it’s a situation where he still wants to keep his professional real career separate from what he did on Faces of Death. We talked him into doing commentary, but he didn’t want to go on camera.”

Faces of Death (1978)

Special Edition (via IMDb)

Felsher’s company is behind some of the most recognized bonus feature documentaries on DVD. His company created “Flesh Wounds” for the special edition of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as well as extra content for Creepshow and Night of the Living Dead DVDs.

The Faces of Death Formula

It is no surprise that Felsher’s insight into the secrets of Faces of Death are abundant, “There’s a scene in the movie where a woman jumps, commits suicide from a building, she just jumps and hits the pavement.

Part of that is real—her jumping is real. But then the rushing up to the body lying on the ground is fake. So they would take and augment existing footage to make the creative narrative around it, and also sometimes to enhance the gore and shock aspect of it.”

Faces of Death (1978)

via IMDb

Part of the magic of Faces of Death was its editing and misdirection. The movie incorporated real footage with special effects and make-up to create scenes that trick the viewer into believing what they are seeing.

Although a lot of the film’s footage is real, most of it is fake.

Felsher says that after speaking with some of the film’s crew, he found a new appreciation for the movie, “One of the things that I found really fascinating about the project was talking to both the special effects crew who worked on the movie and also the editor, who had a really interesting task in that he had to blend stuff that existed at the time, and also sometimes create something out of whole cloth.”

The editor’s magic can be seen in the dog fight segment; two pit bulls fight each other to the death in what looks like a glimpse into a dog-fighting ring. But the director told Felsher it’s really something a lot less terrifying,

“It looks really savage and cruel and mean in the movie. But these dogs were the most playful dogs in the world, we just smeared them with jelly, they were just playing around they weren’t doing anything wrong at all, in fact, the footage itself is so laughably cute, we couldn’t believe that anyone would buy this but, you add sinister music and some sound effects and cut it a certain way, and it looks like these dogs are killing each other.”

Despite camera tricks and creative editing, there are some scenes that were not faked. Faces of Death, for all of its trickery, contains some very real graphic footage.

Faces of Death Isn’t All Misdirection

The director told Felsher about one scene in particular:

“We were down on the beach shooting something else, and we got a call that a body had washed up on the beach, and we were the first one on the scene. So what you’re seeing here is a real body that had washed up. It was a guy who had gotten high on LSD or something and had gone swimming out by the pier and drowned and his body had just washed up while they were out there. So that footage is 100% real; there were no effects there was nothing it wasn’t planned, but they were there so that body’s real.”

Image result for faces of death movie 1978

Unfortunate accident (via HorrorCultFilms)

Understanding Faces of Death and the time period in which it was released, with no internet or YouTube to explore, one can appreciate the curiosity it induced. It was taboo at the time which only increased its popularity among children and college students,

“It’s an amazing example of the power of word of mouth,”

Felsher said, “a legend spread amongst people, almost like an urban legend. There have been so many rumors attributed to it, so many supposed truths about it over the years.”

Felsher also explains how the United States government got involved, “The F.B.I was even fooled by it; they thought the cult footage was real. They had gotten hold of like a fifth-generation [duplicate] of it that looked so crappy, they couldn’t make it out very well, but it actually looked real to them. So they thought the footage was real.”

Faces of Death was a phenomenon of its time. Public officials, critics, and social groups attacked its integrity and even went so far as to blame it for heinous criminal behaviors.

Whether you watch it and roll your eyes at some scenes or cover them for others, there’s no denying that it is a prototype for the more visceral materials that would become available online to everybody a few years later.

A scene from the movie (warning graphic) NSFW:

The secret: from “The Death Makers” featured on the DVD & Blu-Ray of The Original Faces of Death from Gorgon Video.

Felsher says how he felt going into the project changed once he was done with it, “I came away with an amazing appreciation for the artistry and the talent that went into it, even if it wasn’t something that I would necessarily want to watch on my own, but as a document of a certain film making technique, that was one of my favorite experiences on a project.

I learned as much as people watching it learned; I was learning as I was going along and over the course of that commentary in particular. By the time it was over, it was like my world has been expanded on certain things I didn’t even think about. And I have now an actual appreciation for “Faces of Death” of all things.”

Although there are some cleverly edited depictions of gruesome scenarios, Faces of Death still contains real footage of real death. Viewers today can watch the film and try to determine what is real and what is not.

Whatever your thoughts on the film, Felsher sums up its composition the best:

“The movie’s about, I would say, 30% real and 70% bullshit.”

Image result for faces of death movie 1978

via IMDb

Although we have revealed some secrets of Faces of Death, are you brave enough to explore the rest of the movie for yourself and come up with your own conclusions about what is real and what is not? Just remember, live puppies are a delicacy in some cultures. Can your stomach withstand the full 105 minutes of the infamous Faces of Death?

To learn more about Faces of Death, you can check out the official website here.

You can purchase your own special 30th-anniversary Blu-Ray edition of Faces of Death at Amazon today.

If you decide to watch Faces of Death, Tell iHorror what you think.

 

Horror Entertainment News

61 Days of Halloween on Shudder Begins September 1st!

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Shudder September 2022

Shudder has declared itself The Home for Halloween as the all horror/thriller streaming platform gears up for spooky season. Their annual 61 Days of Halloween fest this year will feature 11 all-new features along with a host of new original content and series as every horror lover’s favorite holiday approaches!

The fan-favorite “Ghoul Log” will be returning along with the Halloween Hotline which will allow fans to call in and speak directly to Samuel Zimmerman, Shudder’s content curator, for personalized suggestion every Friday in October from 3-4 pm EST. The hotline number (914-481-2239) will only work during operating hours so be sure to get in line quickly!

I write up the new Shudder calendar every month, and I can honestly say this is one of the most exciting lineups I’ve seen in a while, and because there’s so much content, I’m going to break it up a little differently than I usually do. Below you’ll find dedicated sections for the original content, series, specials, as well as the normal spooky calendar. Take a look below, and get ready to scare with 61 Days of Halloween on Shudder!

Original Shudder Series

101 Scariest Horror Movie Moments of All Time: PREMIERES SEPTEMBER 7th! In this eight-episode new series from the producers of Eli Roth’s History of Horror, master filmmakers and genre experts celebrate and dissect the most terrifying moments of the greatest horror films ever made, exploring how these scenes were created and why they burned themselves into the brains of audiences around the world.

Queer for Fear: A History of Queer Horror: From executive producer Bryan Fuller (Hannibal), Queer for Fear is a four-part documentary series about the history of the LGBTQ+ community in the horror and thriller genres. From its literary origins with queer authors Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, and Oscar Wilde to the pansy craze of the 1920s that influenced Universal Monsters and Hitchcock; from the “lavender scare” alien invasion films of the mid-20th century to the AIDS obsessed bloodletting of 80s vampire films; through genre-bending horrors from a new generation of queer creatorsQueer for Fearre-examines genre stories through a  queer lens, seeing them not as violent, murderous narratives, but as tales of survival that resonate thematically with queer  audiences everywhere.

Shudder Queer for Fear

Queer For Fear – Key Art – Photo Credit: Shudder

Untitled Boulet Brothers Series: For the third straight Halloween season following The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Resurrection (2020) and The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula season 4 (2021), the groundbreaking duo return to Shudder to horrify and delight with their boldest and most ambitious show ever.

Shudder Originals and Exclusives

Who Invited Them: PREMIERES SEPTEMBER 1st! Adam and Margo’s housewarming party goes well enough except for this mysterious couple, Tom and Sasha, lingering after the other guests have left. The couple reveals themselves to be their wealthy and successful neighbors, but as one nightcap leads to another, Adam and Margo start to suspect their new friends are duplicitous strangers with a dark secret. Written and directed by Duncan Birmingham, and starring Ryan Hansen (Veroncia Mars), Melissa Tang (The Kominsky Method), Timothy Granaderos (13 Reasons Why), and Perry Mattfeld (In the Dark). (A Shudder Original)

Saloum: PREMIERES SEPTEMBER 8th! Shot down after fleeing a coup and extracting a drug lord from Guinea-Bissau, the legendary mercenaries known as the Bangui Hyenas – Chaka, Rafa and Midnight – must stash their stolen gold bounty, lay low long enough to repair and refuel their plane and escape back to Dakar, Senegal. When they take refuge at a holiday camp in the coastal region of Sine-Saloum, they do their best to blend in with their fellow guests; including a mute named Awa, with secrets of her own, and a policeman who may be on their tail, but it’s Chaka who happens to be hiding the darkest secret of them all. Unbeknownst to the other Hyenas, he’s brought them there for a reason and once his past catches up to him, his decisions have devastating consequences, threatening to unleash hell on them all.  (A Shudder Original)

Flux Gourmet: PREMIERES SEPTEMBER 15th! Set at an institute devoted to culinary and alimentary performance, a collective finds themselves embroiled in power struggles, artistic vendettas, and gastrointestinal disorders.  Starring Asa Butterfield (Sex Education, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones), and Richard Bremmer (Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker.) Written and directed by Peter Strickland (In Fabric). (A Shudder Exclusive)

Speak No Evil: PREMIERES SEPTEMBER 15th! On a vacation in Tuscany, a Danish family instantly becomes friends with a Dutch family. Months later the Danish couple receive an unexpected invitation to visit the Dutch in their wooden house and decide to go for the weekend. However, it doesn’t take long before the joy of reunion is replaced with misunderstandings. Things gradually get out of hand, as the Dutch turn out to be something very else than what they have pretended to be. The small Danish family now find themselves trapped in a house, that they wish they had never entered. The film was a splash at Sundance, and is honestly one of the most uncomfortable movies we’ve ever seen!(A Shudder Original)

Raven’s Hollow: PREMIERES SEPTEMBER 22nd! West Point cadet Edgar Allan Poe and four other cadets on a training exercise in upstate New York are drawn by a gruesome discovery into a forgotten community. Starring William Moseley (The Chronicles of Narnia), Melanie Zanetti (Bluey), Callum Woodhouse (All Creatures Great and Small), Kate Dickie (The Green Knight), and David Hayman (Sid & Nancy). Written and directed by Christopher Hatton. Official Selection, FrightFest 2022. (A Shudder Original)

Sissy: PREMIERES SEPTEMBER 29th! SISSY stars Aisha Dee and Barlow as Cecilia and Emma, who had been tween-age BFFs who were never going to let anything come between them — until Alex (Emily De Margheriti) arrived on the scene. Twelve years later, Cecilia is a successful social media influencer living the dream of an independent, modern millennial woman, until she runs into Emma for the first time in over a decade. After reconnecting, Emmy invites Cecilia on her bachelorette weekend at a remote cabin in the mountains, where Alex proceeds to make Cecilia’s weekend a living hell. Sissy is written and directed by Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes. Official Selection, SXSW 2022 (A Shudder Original)

Deadstream: PREMIERES OCTOBER 6th! A disgraced and demonetized Internet personality (Joseph Winter) tries to win back his fans by live streaming himself, spending a night alone in an abandoned haunted house. However, when he accidentally unleashes a vengeful spirit, his big comeback event becomes a real-time fight for his life (and social relevance) as he faces off with the sinister spirit of the house and her powerful following. Deadstream stars Joseph Winter, who wrote and directed the film with Vanessa Winter. (A Shudder Original)

Dario Argento’s Dark Glasses: PREMIERES OCTOBER 13th! Rome. An eclipse blocks out the sun, blackening the skies on a hot summer day – harbinger of the darkness that will envelop Diana when a serial killer chooses her as prey. Fleeing her predator, the young escort crashes her car and loses her sight. She emerges from the initial shock determined to fight for her life, but she is no longer alone. Defending her and acting as her eyes is a little boy, Chin, who survived the car accident. But the killer won’t give up his victim. Who will be saved? A triumphant return from Italian master of horror, director Dario Argento. Starring Ilenia Pastorelli and Asia Argento. (A Shudder Original)

She Will: PREMIERES OCTOBER 13th! After a double mastectomy, Veronica Ghent (Alice Krige), goes to a healing retreat in rural Scotland with her young nurse Desi (Kota Eberhardt). She discovers that the process of such surgery opens questions about her very existence, leading her to start to question and confront past traumas. The two develop an unlikely bond as mysterious forces give Veronica the power to enact revenge within her dreams.  Also starring Malcolm McDowell, Jonathan Aris, Rupert Everett, and Olwen Fouéré. (A Shudder Exclusive)

V/H/S/99: PREMIERS OCTOBER 20th!V/H/S/99 marks the return of the acclaimed found footage anthology franchise and the sequel to Shudder’s most-watched premiere of 2021. A thirsty teenager’s home video leads to a series of horrifying revelations. Featuring five new stories from filmmakers Maggie Levin (Into The Dark: My Valentine), Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down, Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City), Flying Lotus (Kuso), Tyler MacIntyre (Tragedy Girls) and Joseph & Vanessa Winter (Deadstream), V/H/S/99 harkens back to the final punk rock analog days of VHS, while taking one giant leap forward into the hellish new millennium. (A Shudder Original)

Shudder V/H/S/99

Resurrection: PREMIERES OCTOBER 28th! Margaret’s life is in order. She is capable, disciplined, and successful. Everything is under control. That is, until David returns, carrying with him the horrors of Margaret’s past. Resurrection is directed by Andrew Semans, and stars Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth. (A Shudder Exclusive)

Joe Bob’s Halloween 2022 Special: PREMIERES OCTOBER 28th! In what has become an annual tradition, iconic horror host and foremost drive-in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs returns with a special The Last Drive-In double feature just in time for Halloween, premiering live on the Shudder TV feed. You’ll have to tune in to find out what movies Joe Bob has selected, but you can count on something scary and perfect for the season, with a special guest to be announced. (Also available on demand beginning October 23.)

September 2022 Release Calendar!

September 1st:

31: Driving through the Southwest on Halloween night, Charly (Sheri Moon Zombie) and her carny crew are attacked and brought to a factory where evil aristocrat Malcolm McDowell announces they’ll be hunted by a series of killer clowns, including the unstoppable Doom-Head (brilliant bad guy Richard Brake, aka the Night King on “Game of Thrones”). The deathmatch set-up has been a horror-fantasy staple from 1932’s The Most Dangerous Game to The Huner Games, but in Rob Zombie’s blood-soaked hands, the subgenre naturally receives its most unrelentingly gruesome interpretation. Contains strong language, sexual scenes, violence, and gore.

The Devil’s Rejects: After a raid on the rural home of the psychopathic Firefly family, two members of the clan, Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), manage to flee the scene. Heading to a remote desert motel, the killers reunite with Baby’s father, Capt. Spaulding (Sid Haig), who is equally demented and intent on maintaining their murder spree. While the trio continues to torment and kill various victims, the vengeful Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe) slowly closes in on them.

The Lords of Salem: Heidi, a radio DJ from Salem, is plagued by bizarre nightmares of vengeful witches after playing a mysterious record by a group known as The Lords. When the record becomes a huge hit, Heidi and her colleagues receive tickets for the band’s next gig, but upon arrival find that the show goes beyond anything they could have imagined. From modern horror maestro, Rob Zombie, THE LORDS OF SALEM is an enigmatic and visually stunning take on the mythology of witches that blends a 1970s aesthetic with modern day counterculture to create a vivid, macabre horror. Contains strong language, sexual scenes, violence, and gore.

Lady in White: Nine-year-old Frankie lives in a small town with a deadly secret. For a decade, a serial child killer has eluded police, and the death toll continues to rise. Then, one night, Frankie gets locked in at his school as a prank and witnesses the ghost of the first victim being murdered. Now, aided by the girl’s restless spirit, Frankie takes it upon himself to bring her assailant to justice. But in a town with no strangers, the killer may be closer than he knows! Alex Rocco also stars.

September 5th:

The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue: A strange twist of fate brings two young travelers, George, and Edna, to a small town where an experimental agricultural machine may be bringing the dead back to life! As zombies infest the area and attack the living, a bullheaded detective thinks the couple are Satanists responsible for the local killings. George and Edna must fight for their lives as they try and stop the impending zombie apocalypse!

September 6th:

Perfect Blue: First time on streaming: Rising pop star Mima has quit singing to pursue a career as an actress and model, but her fans aren’t ready to see her go… Encouraged by her managers, Mima takes on a recurring role on a popular TV show, when suddenly her handlers and collaborators begin turning up murdered. Harboring feelings of guilt and haunted by visions of her former self, Mima’s reality and fantasy meld into a frenzied paranoia. As her stalker closes in, in person and online, the threat he poses is more real than even Mima knows, in this iconic psychological thriller that has frequently been hailed as one of the most important animated films of all time. PERFECT BLUE is the groundbreaking and rarely screened first film from the legendary animator Satoshi Kon (PaprikaParanoia Agent).

Mind Game: Loser Nishi, too wimpy to try to save his childhood sweetheart from gangsters, is shot in the butt by a soccer-playing psychopath, projecting Nishi into the afterlife. In this limbo, God – shown as a series of rapidly changing characters – tells him to walk toward the light.  But Nishi runs like hell in the other direction and returns to Earth a changed man, driven to live each moment to the fullest. First feature from award-winning animator Masaaki Yuasa.

Birdboy: The Forgotten Children: Stranded on an island in a post-apocalyptic world, teenager Dinky and her friends hatch a dangerous plan to escape in the hope of finding a better life. Meanwhile, her old friend Birdboy has shut himself off from the world, pursued by the police and haunted by demon tormentors. But unbeknownst to anyone, he contains a secret inside him that could change the world forever. Based on a graphic novel and short film by co-director Alberto Vázquez (with Pedro Rivero) and winner of the Goya Award for Best Animated Feature.

Nocturna Side A: The Great Old Man’s Night: Ulysses is a hundred-year-old man, battling for redemption on his last night on earth. Faced with imminent death, he is forced to rethink his past, his present and his take on reality.

Lifechanger: Drew has an identity problem. Every few days, he has to shape-shift, or face a painful death. He has to find someone and make a copy. He takes everything: their looks, memories, hopes and dreams. Their entire life. He becomes them, and they die horribly. Lately, the changes are becoming more frequent. Facing his imminent death, Drew sets out on one final blood-soaked mission.

September 12th:

Extraordinary Tales: Five of Edgar Allan Poe’s best-known stories are brought to vivid life in this visually stunning, heart-pounding animated anthology featuring some fot he most beloved figures in horror film history.

September 19th:

Cemetery of Terror: On Halloween, a group of medical students steal the corpse a serial killer from a morgue and raise him from the dead, inadvertently putting themselves and a group of young neighborhood children in danger.

Grave Robbers: Teenagers accidentally resurrect a satanic killer who targets the local police captain’s daughter to birth the antichrist.

September 26th:

Sole Survivor: A lone survivor of a plane crash is haunted by a feeling unworthy of survival. Dead people start coming after her to collect her.

Trick or Treats: A babysitter is stuck watching over a young brat on Halloween night who keeps playing vicious pranks on her. To add to her trouble the boy’s deranged father has escaped from an asylum and is planning on making a visit.

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Horror Entertainment News

‘Cult of the Lamb’ Trailer Takes Inspiration from The Omen, The Wicker Man and More

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Lamb

Devolover’s latest offering is Cult of the Lamb. This one may look cute and filled with fluffy sheep and friends, but don’t let that fool you. These little lambs are followers of “The One Who Waits” and they will do what is necessary in order to stay prosperous. Do you want lots of food and a flock of the faithful? You may have to sacrifice your Lamb brethren. Be a good leader or you could end up in a Wicker Lamb to be burnt to death.

You can tell that the folks over at Devolver are big fans of Folk horror. There is plenty of influence throughout this one. From The Wicker Man to MidSommar, to The Omen and Eyes of Fire.

Lamb

The synopsis for Cult of the Lamb goes like this:

If you are here, you must have heard the call: The One Who Waits requires you to start a cult in this world of monsters and horror. To do so, you will need to cultivate a following of woodland worshippers, crusade through randomly generated dungeons in each of the four Lands of the Old Faith, and battle through hordes of beastly non-believers who will attempt to end your righteous mission. We wish you luck!

If you know Devolver, then you know the sort of fun that this game is going to be. Cult of Lamb takes tons of folk horror influence and creates something really special from the whole sub-genre.

Cult of the Lamb is out now on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and Nintendo Switch.

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Horror Entertainment News

Vince Gilligan’s New Series Following ‘Better Call Saul’ is Being Compared to ‘Twilight Zone’

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Gilligan

Now that Vince Gilligan has wrapped up Better Call Saul the writer/director is excited to get his next series out. The new series is very anticipated among the networks looking forward to making the new series a home on their own respective channel. The new series is said to take Gilligan back to a more X-Files vibe.

While Deadline reports not to expect a full return to that kind of sci-fi/drama, they do report that it is said to be a series that focuses on the human condition in a new and interesting way.

Gilligan’s new series is being compared to The Twilight Zone according to Deadline.

“It is said to be set in our world while putting a tweak on it, focusing on people and exploring the human condition in an unexpected, surprising way.”

It is also said to be thought-provoking but not a morality tale. Gilligan’s new series is also said to have his classic sense of humor thrown into the mix.

If Gilligan is even slightly going back to his X-Files ways and if that is being compared to The Twilight Zone to boot? All we can say is hell yes!

Prior to Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, Gilligan was writing some great stuff for both The X-Files. In fact, some of the best episodes were written by either Gilligan or Darin/Glenn Morgan.

We can’t wait to see what is next for Gilligan following his world of Slipping Jimmy’s and Blue Meth. His writing has always been a high point whatever he does.

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