Back in prehistoric times, kiddies – i.e. the mid to late 1980s – our parents would usually drag us kicking and screaming to the grocery store for our weekly shopping. What’s that you say; nothing new or exclusive to that little act, something that’s still done countless times every week by oodles of families the world over? You would be correct in that summation Dear and Constant Reader were it not for one or two important caveats which, when applied, makes grocery shopping with mom and dad in 2021 a completely different creature than it was in 1986 or ’87. The biggest difference (other than the prices): Us of Generation X usually had a video store within the Piggly Wiggly, Winn-Dixie, Price Chopper or Wegmans that would more than keep us occupied while mom furtively sought enough Kellogg’s Frosted Cornflakes to fill our growing gullets for yet another week.
The video rental section of a grocery store was sheer magic and it was where any self-respecting adolescent made his or her scene, one sweaty hand fondling our laminated video club membership card, the other stroking the rows of video tape rental boxes that all seemed to call out for immediate rental. Looking back lo these many moons later, I can still hungrily recollect eyeing such video boxes with breathless and alluring titles as The Town That Dreaded Sundown, The Evil Dead, Friday the 13th, Happy Birthday to Me, Revenge of the Nerds and Porky’s. So many quality choices and with a strict edict by my parents to rent no more than two videos at any one time, the stakes were high indeed with what I ultimately picked out for the weekend movie watching.
There was one group of video titles that had me leery from the get-go though and which I – the young lad who by the tender age of thirteen had seen every blessed Hammer horror flick there was to see – became squeamish to even be around: Faces of Death. That three word title induced nightmares writ large for me early on and I’d had good friends who had imparted some of the gorier details of what we all presumed to be actual documentaries of unfortunate souls losing their lives in a variety of unexpected and usually disgusting ways as a camera that just happened to be hanging around caught the whole disturbing thing for our future viewing pleasure. As an early horror movie aficionado, I loved blood and guts just as much as the next twelve-year old, but there was a distinction for me because Freddy Krueger and Michael Meyers were fictional creations. Heck, I knew that from day one. But with Faces of Death – or so I thought at the time – that was the real deal and that was enough to make this normally unflappable piker apply for a 4-F waiver in regards to what turned out to be an early mockumentary (i.e. something that is a fiction that is passed off as if it’s true). Camp counsellors being stalked by a man in a hockey mask was fine for me, because I knew that there was a director and a diligent production crew just off-camera waiting to yell ‘Cut!’ and gee, wasn’t life just a peach? Faces of Death, though – That was just too eerie even for this stouthearted little man.
Flash cut to all of these years later and this intrepid scribbler of words was instantly thrown back to the mid-1980s upon scanning a headline from our pals over at The Hollywood Reporter which all but taunted me: “Cult Horror Movie ‘Faces of Death’ Getting 21st Century Reimagining…”
Yes, it’s true: The pseudo-documentary that scared and scarred an entire generation of future film nerds – Faces of Death – is gearing up for a remake courtesy of production house Legendary Entertainment.
The new iteration of Faces of Death will focus on a female moderator of a site that kinda looks a bit like YouTube. Her job is to approve or give the thumbs down for video content, all of this even as she struggles to overcome some serious trauma of her own. While going about her job, she comes upon a group of mysterious people attempting to post videos which seem to be recreating the murders from the original Faces of Death documentary. Rorschach Test time: Is it real, or is it Memorex? That’s the fundamental and chilling question posed to our protagonist as she falls down the proverbial rabbit hole of figuring out whether she’s potentially sitting on real crime scene evidence or just a clever hoax.
Daniel Goldhaber of Cam fame will direct Faces of Death from a script penned by wordsmith Isa Mazzei. To keep some of the old cartilage from the original faux documentary, John Burrud who was a producer on the original Faces of Death series of films will have an active hand in this remake. So that’s what we have so far, Ladies and Gents. As for me and my own predilection to avoid Faces of Death, even knowing all of these years later that the films were just clever found footage creations? Forgive me Father, for I have sinned – This forty-eight year old man-child has yet to watch any of the original films. Maybe in another forty-eight years I’ll finally be up for it. But don’t hold your brea