Faces of Death (1978)

face of death poster 1978 movie
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 2/10
Acting: 2/10
Visuals: 7/10

Interesting concept and blend of reality and fiction

Poorly executed, not shocking by today's standards

Movie Info
Movie Name:  Faces of Death

Studio:  Aquarius Releasing

Genre(s):  Horror/Documentary

Release Date(s):  November 10, 1978

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


I will try to make sense of this meaningless blather we call a script…

Dr. Francis B. Gröss (Michael Carr) guides the audience through questions of life and death by showing recordings of car accidents, animal mutations, corpses, and other horrors which demonstrate the ending of life.

Directed by Conan LeCilaire, Faces of Death (sometimes called The Original Faces of Death) is a documentary footage combined with recreated sequences.  The film was met with criticism upon its release.  Challenged by countries, the film was often tagged “Banned in 40+ Countries”, the film wasn’t rated and often was only available to eighteen or older.


I will go attempt to capture this fake alligator…

When I was little all the Faces of Death were always kind of a war badge to have seen.  Along with A Clockwork Orange and Fritz the Cat, the movies were something that people bragged about seeing to friends.  They were the movies that people got their older brothers or sisters to rent and made cheap dubbed copies to watch.  I had no interest, but heard many, many stories about it.

It becomes pretty obvious when watching the film that a lot of the film is staged.  The sequence with the alligator can’t even get good actors to pretend to be reporters.  A monkey being beaten with mallets was shot for the movie and the “mallets” were actually foam with cauliflower used for the brains.  The movie ran into problems with effects artists requesting money for their work on the film.


Hey, I know I’m just a monkey, but this is fake…right?

Other shots of the movie are real.  A lot of the animal stuff was legitimate like the clubbing of seals, and the movie also employed newsreels for footage like of Hitler’s war camp.  The movie also uses some news footage like the after effect of a cyclist being struck by a truck…it is gross, but it looks more like a driver’s education video.

At the time, I’m sure Faces of Death was pretty shocking, but now, it is nothing you couldn’t find on YouTube…or worse.  The movie is rather dull and tame, and the attempt to tie all these videos into a story is quite a stretch.  The movie has been referred to both as a mocumentary and a mondo film, but if nothing else Faces of Death is an interesting look back into a pre-internet world.  Faces of Death was followed by Faces of Death II in 1981.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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