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17 user 23 critic

Scalpel (1977)

False Face (original title)
A psychopathic plastic surgeon transforms a young accident victim into the spitting image of his missing daughter.

Director:

John Grissmer

Writers:

John Grissmer, Joseph Weintraub (original story)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Lansing ... Dr. Phillip Reynolds
Judith Chapman ... Heather / Jane
Arlen Dean Snyder ... Uncle Bradley
David Scarroll David Scarroll ... Dr. Robert Dean
Sandy Martin ... Sandy
Bruce Atkins Bruce Atkins ... Bartender
Muriel Moore Muriel Moore ... Cousin Margaret
Clara Dunn Clara Dunn ... Gossipy Woman
Stan Wojno Stan Wojno ... Donald (as Stanley Wojno)
Laura Whyte Laura Whyte ... Jennifer Reynolds
Larry Quackenbush Larry Quackenbush ... Keith Jarvey
Greg Oliver Greg Oliver ... Killer
Mimi Honce Mimi Honce ... Maddie Schuster
Ellen Heard Ellen Heard ... Woman at the Party
Tad Currie Tad Currie ... Mr. Branch
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Storyline

A psychopathic plastic surgeon transforms a young accident victim into the spitting image of his missing daughter.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

a face created by a master surgeon ... to live a lie created by a madman. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?


Soundtracks

After the Ball
by Charles Harris
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User Reviews

 
"He thought I was some sort of Frankenstein"
15 July 2010 | by lost-in-limboSee all my reviews

"Scalpel" aka "False Face" is a soberly sturdy little southern Gothic dramatic thriller that might not have the pulsating thrills sprinkled throughout but the solid performances (Robert Lansing perfectly portrays one really twisted character underneath the solemnly overconfident façade) and a laconic narrative pulls you through by throwing up some offbeat occurrences (possible incest) and tension-grabbing surprises. It's humid soap opera stuff with many complications surfacing, as the harboured dementia (Lansing's laugh shows glimpses of it) lurking beneath goes onto tear a gaping hole in the trust, as lust enters the mind.

Plastic surgeon Dr. Phillip Reynolds learns at the will reading of his deceased father-in-law that his daughter (who has been missing for some time now and his violent tendencies might just have something to do with that) has inherited the family fortune of 5 million dollars. This makes Reynolds and his brother-in-law Bradley (who only received the pooch) angry and annoyed. Later that night while driving the pair come across a badly beaten go-go dancer that won't give out any personal details, so Reynolds secretly offers the girl the chance of inheriting some of his daughter's fortune if she agrees to allow him to reconstruct her face - just like his daughter and act like her. She accepts, and the scheme is in motion. Everything is going according to plan, that's until the real daughter appears on the scene.

Quite an interestingly chameleon-like and slow-grinding psychological drama, as it does bestow some powerfully suggestive images. Leading the way would be the father-daughter affection, especially the warped nature when he transforms the go-go dancer into his daughter. There it begins a creepy attraction --- was it always there --- did it serve for the death of his wife and his daughter's boyfriend? Though things really do get compelling when his real daughter shows up, as some instances will have you guessing to how it will actually progress. The true beauty or the cheap imitation. The performances are spot on; Margaret Chapman is simply wonderful playing two roles by bringing the right shades and mannerisms to her two very different characters, despite the appearances. Arlen Dean Snyder provides a lively turn as Bradley, where his suspicion gets the better of him. Writer / director John (the man behind the 1987 twin slasher "Blood Rage") Grissmer does a workmanlike job, rather accomplished but never truly exciting and a bit murky. However the dry air works in its favour, where the exhaustively moody music score blends well with the dramas and southern setting.

A genuinely well-devised and clinical curio.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

January 1977 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Woman of the Shadows See more »

Filming Locations:

Covington, Georgia, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

PJ Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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