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You don't hear much about them anymore, but from the 50's, to fairly
recent times, Facial Transplant horror films were a thriving sub-genre.
Beginning with "La Yeux Sans Visage" (eyes without a face/Horror Chamber Of Dr. Faustus) by Georges Franju, these continued onward with "Awful Dr, Orloff" by Jess Franco (who has made quite a few, including one of the most recent, "Faceless"), "Double Face" by Riccardo Freda, "The Devil's Commandment", and "The Hand That Feeds The Dead". "THTFTD" was unknown to me at first viewing, but this is one of the great facial transplant movies. Klaus Kinski is in fine form as our "mad scientist", attempting to correct a past mistake. The laboratory he uses is also one of the best ever, just eye-popping. Very obscure in America, but available subtitled from the usual sources. This is one of the greats, and almost nobody even knows about it.
Klaus Kinski plays an evil scientist named Nijinski who wants to restore beauty of his disfigured wife.With the help of his hunchback he kidnaps young women to steal their faces."Evil Face" by Sergio Garrone is a dull Italian horror film with a bit of gore and lesbian sleaze.The characters are often wandering around doing nothing.There are some huge lapses in logic and several characters are extremely dumb.The cinematography is lazy and uninspired too.Fortunately "Evil Face" never reaches the dullness of Garrone's annoying Nazisploitation flick "SS Experiment Camp".It's always great to see Klaus Kinski in the role of villain.I have seen much worse Italian horror films,so I can recommend this one for fans of Italian horror.6 face transplants out of 10.
This is another collaboration between crazed German actor Klaus Kinski,
hack Italian director Sergio Garrone, and beautiful Dutch actress Katia
Christine, and it is a marginal improvement over their other
collaboration "Amanti di Mostro". The story is superficially similar to
the other film. Once again, Kinski is a mad scientist married to Katia
Christine, and once again he is carrying on the work of his late
father-in-law (named "Ivan Rassimov" in this movie, which is perhaps an
inside joke since Ivan Rassimov was a familiar character actor in
Italian exploitation films during this era). But instead of Kinski
turning himself into Mr. Hyde and attacking all the half-naked,local
women, this movie has an "Eyes without a Face"-type plot where Kinski
uses his Igor-like assistant to kidnap all the half-naked, local women
in order to transplant their flesh onto his disfigured wife.
Sergio Garrone (to borrow a line from "Shock Cinema's" Steve Puchalski) probably couldn't successfully direct his own bowel movement, so it's impressive here that the direction at times approaches borderline competence (or maybe that should be credited to his Turkish co-director?). Kinski generally gave two kinds of performances in movies like this--scenery-gnawing or totally phoned-in. He definitely gnawed some serious scenery in "Amanti di Mostro", but here is performance is pretty much phoned-in (he also may have stormed off the set at some point because they seem to use a double for some of his scenes). If you're a fan of Katia Christine's acting, you'll enjoy this more than "Amanti" because she has much more screen time and essentially plays two different roles, one of which is deliciously evil. If you're more a fan of Katia Christine's body, however, you might prefer the other movie because she generally keeps her Victorian garments on here. There is as much nudity and even more gore than in "Amanti", but it all comes toward the end of the movie, by which time you may have already slipped into a boredom-induced coma.
Although the best thing about this might be the literal translation of the Italian title, "The Hand that Feeds Death", this was recently released on Region 1 DVD under the ho-hum title "Evil Face". I wouldn't really recommend this, but god knows I'VE seen worse movies.
Titled on my box as, The Hand That Feeds Death, but a more accurate translation, I believe is, The Hand That Feeds The Dead. Either way, of course nothing to do with the film in hand. Another confusing aspect to this title is the fact that director Sergio Garrone managed to complete another film the same year, called Lover Of The Monster, that had almost the same cast, same locations and more or less the same story. using much of the same footage. Add to that the fact this was made by the Italians with the Turkish, it is no wonder it seems a little off kilter. More than that it seems to switch from one location to another, day to night and almost story to story in the blink of an eye. On the positive side we do have Kinski (brilliant at the very end with lipstick bloodied lips) lots of gore (transplants) and a fair amount of flesh (young and female) and although it seemed ridiculous from the outset, I enjoyed it. It is bright, colourful and cheery with a really impressive laboratory with blood being pumped hither and thither. Silly yes, boring no.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched Turkey version of this movie from a very old VHS cassette.
The film was re-edited by co-director Yilmaz Duru and just 78 minutes.
It seems that those other 9 minutes was very gory for the eyes of
Turkish co-producer Tugra Film and they decided to chop those footages.
There were neither "yanking the guts out of a dead puppy" by Kinski nor
his "spending a lot of time running wild through the woods". He was
more of a decent but passionate guy, anyway he was spooky.
Actually there were some inconsistencies during the film, or better some long jumps in the narration. After the professor's henchman buries Daniel out somewhere in the garden, then all of a sudden in the next scene we see Daniel trying to free from sarcophagus in the cellar. And the film finishes right after Daniel runs out the manor through the woods and collapses crying on the grasses.
The Hand That Feeds the Dead apparently is often confused with a film
called Lover of the Monster. That's not at all surprising; they're both
directed by Sergio Garrone, feature basically the same cast (both
headed by Klaus Kinski), both were released in 1974, they both feature
similar plots and even some of the same footage. Unfortunately, they're
also both rubbish. After seeing Lover of the Monster recently, I had it
in my head that at least it couldn't be worse than The Hand That Feeds
the Dead - but I was wrong, as despite a very nice title; this film is
utter dross. The film takes place in the nineteenth century and focuses
on a doctor by the name of Prof Nijinski. He stumbles upon an old
laboratory in his basement and begins experimenting with life and death
(yadda, yadda). Of course, the experiments go wrong and end up messing
with the doctors head.
I have to admit that the version I saw was sourced from a Turkish VHS and was cut down to about seventy eight minutes. I don't know exactly what was cut out, but I'm guessing it was all the good bits because we haven't been left with much. I'm sure that some of the gore was cut out because I didn't see much of it; there were a few skin graft scenes but overall the film is very lacking on that front. The period setting and obvious low budget gives the film something of a gritty feel that works fairly well with the plot but is nowhere near enough to save the production on the whole. Klaus Kinski is undoubtedly one of the major stars of cult cinema, but even his presence is not enough to lift this production; frankly he looked about as bored as I was. The pace is very slow and the editing is inept, which makes the film even harder to watch. I really didn't care what happened at the end and the climax was not interesting anyway. This film has vanished into obscurity since its release and I'm not at all surprised about that. The Hand That Feeds the Dead is nowhere as interesting as it sounds and is not recommended!
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