“Dude. We’re in the middle of ‘Vampire Week’ and this a Frankenstein-styled flick,” rants Sam with an aggravated toss of concentrated strawberries into a vodka-filled blender. Yep. It’s a “Feed the Dead” movie-themed alcohol brew—and it’s not even a Saturday Night Groovy Doom Double Feature Watch Party with Bill Van Ryn of Drive-In Asylum.
“There’s a method to the madness,” mellows R.D with a causal wipe of Cheetos dust from his chin. “Don’t ‘Panico,’ my brother. Just B&S and Keep Calm . . . and read on.“
Oh, the lost facial transplant sub-genre of horror films: how ye churn my stomach. If you’re a horror hound, you know the oeuvre: Georges Franju’s La Yeux Sans Visage (aka Eyes without Face, aka The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus), Jess Franco’s “remake” with The Awful Dr. Orloff (1962) and his racier-gorier sequel-remake of that, with Faceless (1988). Then there’s Hiroshi Teschigahara’s Asian take on the genre with Tanin no Kao (aka, The Face of Another (1966). One may also call up John Frankenheimer’s Seconds (1966) with Rock Hudson, but that’s a suspense thriller, not a gory-horror film—and if you replace Rock with the Cage, and add over-the-top action, you get . . . John Woo’s gonzos Face/Off (1997). But I digress. . . .
Italian director Sergio Garrone’s face-rip entry—a Turkish (Shameless Plug: all of next week, from the 13th to the 18th, it’s “Turkish Delights Week” at B&S) co-production alternately titled Evil Face—can easily be mistaken as the same-old slash n’ cheeks peel, but this face-cutting entry has two things going for it: the nudity and gore that’s absent from its surgical precursors—and Klaus Kinski. And you know the drill with Kinski. Double K is an all-in-or-nothing actor: he was Nicolas Cage before Nicolas Cage made us his bitch (read our “Nic Cage: Bitch” featurette). And Kinski’s never met a character with a kink he didn’t like. And if they don’t have a psychosexual glitch: KK Freuds ‘em up himself. (Yeah, we know you referred to them “horrible movies,” Klaus. But we love your horror flicks, you mad, German bastard.)
After world-renowned surgeon Baron Ivan Rassimov suffers a horrifying death in a laboratory fire, Tanja, his daughter (the makes-your-heart-weep Katia Christine), lives in seclusion and wears a veil to conceal her own facial mass of scars. An ex-student of her father’s, Professor Nijinksi (Klaus Kinksi) married Tanja (out of loyalty; but also of kink) and carried on Rassimov’s skin-grafting experiments—with the goal of restoring Tanja’s face. However, as with most of these mad-doctors restoring beauty or reanimating the life of a loved one: the flesh, the blood, or some mixture of bodily fluids from beautiful (natch, never the physically unblessed) victims are needed to complete the experiments. To that end: Kinski and his “Igor” venture into the local village to kidnap women to peel off their faces (graphic, very impressive in-camera effects by the great Carlo Rambaldi of Alien and Dune fame).
Sergio Garrone (Django the Bastard*, for you spaghetti western whipper-snappers) utilized the Roger Corman-ethos of filmmaking with The Hand that Feeds the Dead: he shot it back-to-back with his other, similar 1974 Kinski-starring release, Lover of the Monster. And as with the many Corman productions: you’ll also notice both Garrone-Kinski horrors utilize the same sets and actors—and a few scenes are practically shot-for-shot identical. Not that it matters, since it’s unlikely most people—as with Corman’s celluloid recycles—seen both films back-to-back during their initial 1974 drive-in days.
The Hand that Feeds the Dead had an early release on Blu-ray/DVD in August through Full Moon Direct. After streaming on the Full Moon Features channel and app this September, it will expand to a brick-and-mortar and online retail release in October. You can stay current on Full Moon’s releases through their Facebook page.
* Did you miss our “Spaghetti Westerns Week,” hombre? Well, saddle up that mouse and scroll on back to Sunday, August 16, to Saturday, August 22, for our week-long homage to Italian and Spanish-shot westerns of the ’60s and ’70s.
Shameless Plugs Department: We examined the Kinksi-Herzog five-film oeuvre with our “Drive-In Friday: Klaus Kinski vs. Werner Herzog” and all of Kinski’s Spaghetti Westerns with our “Drive-In Friday: Kinski Spaghetti Westerns” featurettes. And we’re Klaus-heads over here, so check out the rest of our ever-expanding reviews of his films.
“We want a Kinksi box set, Full Moon!”