So just like with my last post I intend to reproduce the full text from a post on my previous blog about a film on the DPP72 List in this case Faces of Death, and then add to this review with new material in bold and italics either restating my oppinion or arguing with what I said back when this was written.
Last time we talked, well last time I typed and you read it to be specific, I told you all about The Evil Dead and the DPP72/Video Nasty controversy of the 1980’s. So this time I thought that I would tell you a little more about the kinds of films which made their way on to this list and about one in particular. The law at the time existed to try and protect us from ourselves and from the ‘filth’ that certain studios were producing. We were to be protected from films which would to quote the Obscene Publications Act “deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it".
Personally both at the time and now I think the Obscene Publicatons Act was a joke, I do not think that someone can be depraved or corrupted by a piece of fictional entertainment, sure someone might enjoy it in a disturbing way or choose to repeat something from it but I would strongly argue that this is due to something that is wrong inside of them, something which doesnt come as a result of them watching a film but is instead a deep seated problem...the only time I would argue this is possibly not the case is when people are subjected to things there minds are not ready for, if you see and experiance things before your mind has gotten a firm grasp on reality then I think this can be a bad thing but only if this is the only real input your getting but its the job of parents and careers to make sure that your not watching what you shouldnt and that you learn the basic life lessons you should learn not the governments. As harsh as it might sound if you dont want to undertake the hard task of raising children then dont have them.
The kind of films which got included in the term video nasty’s tended to be Zombie films, Sexploitation movies, cannibal movies, revenge movies and even one film that claimed to be footage of real deaths and executions. I have to admit it is easy to see how some of these things would upset certain people even if you don’t believe in censorship.
The film I have chosen to discuss today is Faces of Death and it was released in 1978, a few years before I was even born and yet I was still in school when I learned about its existence. It is a film which advertised itself as being a look at the many ways in which people can die, there was no story to it, and it was more of a cassette filled with various different macabre sequences.
In recent years people who were involved in the movie have admitted that several of the human death scenes were fakes produced specifically for the film but they were mixed in with genuine pieces of footage such as stock footage of napalm bombings in Vietnam and various pieces of footage from newsreels. There are also actual on-camera animal deaths/killings, which include seals being clubbed to death and animals being killed in a slaughterhouse. The high or low point of the film depending on how you view these things is the inclusion of real footage taken from a newsreel which shows a very unpleasant fatal accident, in which shattered remains of a cyclist are seen under a semi-tractor trailer. The footage includes a brief look at paramedics scooping up the remains of the individuals head from the road side.
A lot of what is seen in this film although shocking at the time doesnt seem all that big a deal now, I guess its partly down to the fact that our own news broadcasts and other forms of media have gotten so dark, scary and sensational now that we are just kind of used to this kind of thing. The news is showing you war zones and animal rights prrotestors are trying to show you what goes on in a slaughter house, I guess we are just a lot more used to this kind of stuff, where as the odd weird person used to hunt out Faces of Death we know have a whole society that is watching crime reconstructions and shocking news reports to try and give there fear sensors a cheeky tickle. The worst part in Faces of Death actually was taken from a news reel so I think that in a way kind of says it all.
When I saw the film as a young man I did not know how much of it was fake or that news footage had been used, in fact by the time I was aware of its existence there was a whole series of Faces of death movies. I remember it being used as a form of initiation by some of the lads in school, if you could watch the whole of the film from start to finish without turning away then you would prove that you were a real man.
To be honest yes I passed this initiation but the more I sit and think about it the more I think most young people are just dicks looking for reasons to call each other, to claim that they are better than each other and rub this or that in each others faces, this isent just something I feel looking back at my youth its something I have come to feel from watching my daughter grow up. She came home at one time telling me that lots of people at school were doing the Freddy rhyme from Nightmare on Elm street and calling the children who didnt know the words pussys because they hadnt seen the film, now she was too young for me to want her to watch it (I have since shown it to her). She told me the words they were singing to the rhyme and they wernt even right, so I taught her the proper rhyme gave her a story book sort of 12 certificate version of what happens and told her to say she had seen it and correct them on the rhyme and tell them they were talking shit, I thought this was a novel way of dealing with the situation and to me thats a lot of what being a parent is about finding the best way to deal with things.
I am anti-censorship, I believe that when you start to tell people what they can and cannot watch you attack people’s rights, including their right to watch what they want to watch and there right to formulate their own opinions but even I find myself having problems trying to defend this movie. The movie in itself is not wrong, at least it is not wrong when you realise that some of the deaths are fake and that others were either filmed as part of the news or in the case of the animals you are just seeing how cattle is really treated. The issue I have is with how this is presented, I have a problem in regards to the fact that the creators of this movie tried to lie to everyone in order to sell their movie. Sure they are not the first to do it and nor are they the last, after all look at the Blair Witch that was presented as being a real life recording of those teenagers last few hours and their demise. Faces of death was different though it was trying to appeal to our dark side to the side of us that can’t help but turn to look at a road traffic accident, that can’t help but stare at the bloody corpse. The film itself has no merit as a piece of art, it is not an example of storytelling or plot pacing all it does prove is how, with the right hype and the right angle one set of people can con another set of people in to believing that they need to experience something.
A lot of people might think that when reviewing or talking about games or films I and/or other writers randomly decidide what to talk about next, sometimes that might be true but most of the time I put a lot of thought in to what I am going to review next. In this case I had started with The Evil Dead for two reasons one of them being that when compared to a lot of the other films on the DPP72 it is one of the films that most people would have heard of so I thought it would be a nice starting point. The other reason was because I adore The Evil Dead and wanted a goood reason to watch it and look at it, when it came to my second review I wanted something that was very diffrent and that I didnt like. I wanted to make it clear that I like some of the DPP72 and dislike others. For me Faces of Death is about as far removed from The Evil Dead as you can get. Evil Dead is a good film that just so happens to be gory , it has a story to tell and a solid middle, begining and end I wwent from that to Faces of Death as it is so diffrent it lacks any real story or purpose it is just shock for the sake of shock and while I wouldnt ban it being pro free speach I will happily call it a piece of crap. I tried to get this across in the first place but think maybe I was a bit too subtle.
If I was to compare Blair witch to Faces of Death then this is most definitely a case where the modern film wins. Blair Witch might have tried to make us think that it was real but we all knew that it wasn’t and the only people who were really fooled were those who wanted to be and for them it provided a fun piece of horror, whereas anyone who found Faces of Death to be an enjoyable film? Well I would seriously question their mental well-being.
This film clearly had an audience though as mutliple sequeels and spiritual sequels were made but I have to say I just simply do not get its appeal, unless you want to see every film from the DPP72 list then I would give this one a miss.