The original Faces of Death was a mondo movie containing, I think, a few brief bits of footage of genuine human death, alongside a much fatter proportion of fakery and trickery. At the time of its release, however, the popular conception was that the film was at least mostly genuine.
Well, around my schoolyard it was considered not only entirely genuine but was also saidto feature things far in excess of anything that actually does appear. The imaginations of young kids are wonderfully creative at times.
And, frankly, perverted.
And completely ignorant of any of the issues implicit in using footage of somebody’s death as part of an entertainment product.
The were several Faces of Death films and eventually, they each ended up recombining footage from the earlier installments with no new deaths at all. I remember the disappointment vividly.
What all of the films lacked, however, was any kind of narrative. Thankfully, they made up for this with sheer mystique, pools of pitch darkness where taste should have been, and an abundance of taboo-challenging “momento mori” moments that, once seen, it’s hard to shake.
Back in 2006, Soft for Digging‘ and The Burrower‘s JT Petty was set to write and direct a new Faces of Death film. At the time he told me:
I shouldn’t say too much yet, but it’s going to be a narrative film, very hard, very strange. I think the property is actually a great canvas for a very frightening film, not just splatter.
And for five years, nothing. But Petty was right and there is a very frightening film in here, just screaming to be let out. And good ideas don’t die quite as easily as you and me…
Bleeding Cool have recently learned that plans to get the film in front of cameras are underway again, and it looks like a shoot is set for the coming months. All being well, the new Faces of Death should be in cinemas in the spring. I’m not sure what to expect exactly, but Petty is sure to respond to changes in how we receive and consume media, and the fact that it’s easy to find actual footage of people dying online without much difficulty at all.
In some way or another, he’s got to up the ante.
I look forward to seeing the film a great deal. Now all I have to do is not get assassinated, fall off of a tall building or eaten by alligators between now and the spring. Probably not quite as easy as we all want to believe…