Monday, October 22, 2012

You Are an Idiot If You Fall for This: "Worst of Faces of Death" (1987)

Why, why, why, oh why do I punish myself like this?

A Dr. Louis Flellus introduces the video and proclaims Dr. Frances B. Gross, the narrator of the Faces of Death series, has died during a surgery Flellus was performing. Flellus decides to continue the study of death that his colleague started, and appears throughout the video to talk about the different segments. Gross' voice can be heard narrating the grainy death footage. I cannot believe I just typed that with a straight face.

The viewer is then assaulted with images of autopsies and other filmed footage associated with death. The problem is only part of this footage is authentic. Most of the film consists of terrible reenactments that make "Unsolved Mysteries" look like "The Lord of the Rings." The first reenactment involves a bear attack that was captured by two different cameramen simultaneously. From there, fake shootings and fake suicides abound. One suicide clip has a man jumping off a six story building. Watching the mannequin plunge to its eternal disrepair elicited a noise from me that can only be described as a chortle.

This does feature real violent footage as well, mostly some explicit news footage and lots of animal slaughtering. This is all very real and very gross, but the reenactments were still at the back of my mind.

How can someone review something like "Worst of Faces of Death"? Looking at it as a documentary, it is a failure and a lie. The film never purports to contains one hundred percent authentic footage, but it is assumed. Looking at it as a weird experiment in fiction, it is a total failure. The reenactments are so badly acted and directed, anyone who thinks they are real has led a very sheltered life. The "funny" footage with the doctor is also lowbrow and stupid.

So, this greatest hits of the stupefyingly successful video series is awful. Awful as documentary, awful as fiction, and awful as a film. (*) out of five stars.