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False Face (1977) HD online

False Face (1977) HD online
Language: English
Category: Movie / Drama / Thriller
Original Title: False Face
Director: John Grissmer
Writers: John Grissmer,Joseph Weintraub
Released: 1977
Duration: 1h 35min
Video type: Movie
A psychopathic plastic surgeon transforms a young accident victim into the spitting image of his missing daughter.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Lansing Robert Lansing - Dr. Phillip Reynolds
Judith Chapman Judith Chapman - Heather / Jane
Arlen Dean Snyder Arlen Dean Snyder - Uncle Bradley
David Scarroll David Scarroll - Dr. Robert Dean
Sandy Martin 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


Reviews: [14]

  • avatar

    Marilore

    This movie has a great plot. It's fast paced and fun. And it's full of surprises. There's lots of southern flavor here, even a funeral with a jazz band playing and lots of people actually dancing at it. This movie is a classic. It's best to see only the uncut version.
  • avatar

    Simple fellow

    "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.
  • avatar

    Visonima

    A psychopathic plastic surgeon transforms a young accident victim into the spitting image of his missing daughter,because he wants to inherit the family fortune which have been willed to his daughter.He who reconstructs the mutilated face of a go-go dancer into the likeness of his missing daughter"Scalpel" is a very taut and fascinating psychothriller with excellent central performances of Robert Lansing and Judith Chapman.The atmosphere is suitably sleazy and there is a bit of nasty violence including fairly graphic head bashing.Overall,if you are into twisted Southern psychodramas give this one a look.8 out of 10.
  • avatar

    Vudogal

    The master of the icy stare that could freeze your blood, dumpy actor Robert Lansing made a lot of movies watchable, including "The 4-D Man" and many others. Such is the case with SCALPEL, a slice of southern sleaze from Georgia. When he's not busy chewing the scenery, casually talking about plastic surgery, or yelling "Go get her, GOD DAMN IT!" to a hired killer, he is just rolling in the part of Dr. Reynolds, your friendly neighborhood psychotic plastic surgeon. The rest of the fortunately small cast seems uninterested in what's going on, mainly there to collect a paycheck to buy some more of those gaudy 1970's outfits, although Arlen Dean Snyder is good in his role as the suspicious Uncle Bradley. Without Lansing, this film would have probably been long forgotten. We still need the DVD though! Get this thing a widescreen transfer!
  • avatar

    Malaris

    Robert Lansing plays a crazed, arrogant plastic surgeon whose young adult daughter has run away (after he lets her mother drown and brutally murders her boyfriend). When his wealthy father-in-law dies and leaves his entire estate to the missing girl, he hits on the idea of using plastic surgery to re-make the face of a disfigured go-go dancer (Margaret Chapman) into the spitting image of his runaway daughter. Complications arise, however, when he is unable to sexually resist his new "daughter", and when his real daughter suddenly returns. . .

    This is pretty interesting movie, kind of Southern Gothic giallo thriller. By the standards of American thrillers, it's patently absurd, but this kind of perverse absurdity always worked well in the Italian-made giallo genre, so if you're a fan of those type of films, you'll probably enjoy this low-budget, Southern-fried American version. Lansing is good as the mad plastic surgeon. (He's very good at laughing evilly). Although she was mainly a TV actress, Margaret Chapman does well in a dual role, creating two identical but very different characters (and she had to do so without the benefit of split-screen or expensive special effects). She's also pretty appealing (kind of a red-haired version of Jessica Harper of "Phantom of Paradise" and "Suspiria" fame).

    What I found most amazing about this was that it was originally rated PG back in the 1970's! Besides the quasi-incest (or actual incest?) angle, Chapman's character is first introduced as a topless go-go dancer who is getting her face smashed into a bloody mess against a wall by a burly male bouncer (a scene obviously perfectly appropriate for children in the 1970's). This has got to rank up there with "Blood and Lace" as the most violent and perverse movie ever to garner a permissive PG rating. I personally wouldn't recommend showing it to your children, but it is a pretty entertaining movie.
  • avatar

    Funky

    A murderous surgeon (Robert Lansing) concots a twisted scheme to win his missing daughters inheritance money, by transfroming a Jane Doe (Judith Chapman) into her double. Twists within twists make the rather convoluted plot entertaining. Lansing's character is a real creep, and Chapman who plays both the daughter and Jane is superb. Over all this movie is a fun little Hitchcock wannabe that amuses till the closing credits.
  • avatar

    Ariurin

    An old man has died, cutting out his only son from his will, as well as his other relatives, leaving five million to his granddaughter Heather. Uncle Bradley, the only son, is understandably angry. So is Dr. Reynolds, the old man's son-in-law and father to Heather. Dr. Reynolds is a plastic surgeon with definite psychotic tendencies when it comes to his family. He evidently had killed his wife, making it look like an accidental drowning while swimming, and also killed his daughter's boyfriend, making it look like an accidental drowning as a result of drunkenness.

    Heather, however, isn't around to claim the inheritance. No one has seen her for a year.

    Bradley and Dr. Reynolds almost run over a go-go-dancer with their car. She'd been ejected by a bouncer from a club in only her panties and high heels, and the bouncer had smashed her face into a wall several times for reasons unknown. The two men don't know where she came from, and take her to the hospital. Without telling Bradley, the Doctor rebuilds her face so she looks like his daughter, books a phony airline flight for her, then takes her home and teaches her how to impersonate Heather. They'll split the five million evenly. They begin a sexual relationship as well, making the Doc quite the pervert for being able to do that with his daughter's exact likeness!

    Complicating things are the fact that the phony Heather can't play piano like the real one, Bradley grows suspicious, and the real Heather quietly shows up again.

    Curiously, the other film directed by John Grissmer, Blood Rage, also deals with identical twins - though the characters are actual identical twins played by one actor, here they're identical by virtue of surgery and played by one actress. The fake twins are more or less act the same in False Face (which I saw on video as Scalpel), while in Blood Rage they're more pronouncedly different.

    One of the chief problems with the movie for me was that it felt overlong. It was fairly engrossing, but at the same time nothing terribly special.
  • avatar

    Stoneshaper

    I am the proud owner of an original copy of "Scalpel" on VHS. I deliberately use the words 'proud owner' because, even though far from being a masterpiece or even a gem, this is nevertheless a uniquely bizarre, eccentric and obscure melodrama/psycho-thriller. The basic plot as described on the back of the VHS already sounds quite absurd, but the film gradually gets more bonkers with every new story twist and additional perverted undertone that gets introduced!

    Robert Lansing is ideally cast, with his natural psychotic charisma, and terrifically performs his role as the totally preposterous plastic surgeon Philippe Reynolds who has more than just one mental issue. Even though he's already quite wealthy, like one of the characters aptly points out, he still wants to obtain his father-in-law's five million dollar inheritance at all costs. Slight problem, however, is that father-in-law hated his guts and left the entire fortune to Philippe's cute daughter Heather. Slightly bigger problem even; Heather vanished more than a year ago after she witnessed how daddy drowned her boyfriend in the pond. But when Dr. Reynolds rescues a strip-dancer from the streets, whose face has been reduced to goulash by a dissatisfied customer, he comes up with the brilliant idea to reconstruct her frontispiece to the exact image of his missing daughter and convince her to share the inheritance with him. Problems arise when Dr. Reynolds can't control his sexual desires toward his daughter/partner in crime, when other family members and friends become increasingly suspicious and – especially – when the real Heather suddenly returns home.

    "False Face" has the unique ability to be very brilliant and incredibly stupid at the same time! The plot makes some of the craziest twists and turns imaginable. They are highly implausible, of course, but also very inventive and definitely unpredictable. There were a couple of moments when the complete opposite of what I expected happened and that is something you just have to appreciate! Furthermore there are a few downright absurd sequences in "False Face", like a genuine and never before seen funeral jazz party (yes, indeed) and a hilarious flashback sequence showing Dr. Reynolds' wife drowning whilst he cheerfully paddles by in a dumb-looking little boat. The supportive cast is filled with luscious and typically Southern-Georgia characters, like for example a drunken sexist uncle and sleazy barman. The exquisite Judith Chapman also gives a stellar performance in her double; which really mustn't have been easy since the Jane-character is cocky and playful, whereas the Heather-character is timid and insecure. "False Face" is a truly fun movie, solidly scripted and directed by John Grissmer who – strangely enough – only made two movies with an interlude of a decade. The other being "Blood Rage"; a rare 80's slasher which I certainly wouldn't mind seeing also.
  • avatar

    Light out of Fildon

    Robert Lansing is a reconstructive surgeon, and an adaptable one, plastic, as it turns out. He let his wife drown years ago, then, catching his college-student daughter, Heather, in some heavy petting, drowns her boyfriend. The daughter disappears, as who wouldn't, and nothing is heard of her for more than a year.

    Then death, as it must to all men, comes to Heather's immensely wealthy grandfather, Lansing's father-in-law. Grand Dad hates Lansing and leaves all his money to Heather. All well and good except that Heather is nowhere to be found.

    What's a psychopathic surgeon to do? Here's what Lansing does. He finds a nearly nude girl of about Heather's age lying on the street, her face bashed in. He rushes her to the hospital and when it develops that Jane Doe has no identification, no family, no background, the penny drops. He reconstructs her face so that she now looks exactly like Heather.

    When Jane is discharged, her head still embandaged from occiput to mental process, he takes her home to his mansion and spends the next several months coaching her to take Heather's place and inherit the five million dollars, which they will then split between them.

    He throws a big get-together for friends and relatives and introduces Jane as Heather, finally returned from her year and a half in the wilderness, and just in time to claim the inheritance, while insisting that half the money be put into her Daddy's account.

    Then complications ensue, or, shall we say, sequela follow. First off, an uncle grows suspicious when he finds out that the faux Heather is not the piano prodigy she once was. During the argument with Lansing, he has a heart attack and drops to the floor, where Lansing is calmly compelled to watch him die, while Lansing himself is making wisecracks and pounding out "Chopsticks" on the piano keys.

    Second, there is the problem that Jane now looks and acts just like Heather, and both of them look and act like Judith Chapman, the actress playing both roles. That wouldn't be a problem if Judith Chapman looked like an aardvark but she looks like Judith Chapman. Chapman has a pixyish beauty. Let us treat her face, so to speak. Her eyes are set far apart and she has small but sensual lips that look made for a bong pipe. Her features, in fact, remind one of those old-fashioned plastic dolls that have huge eyes with big black lashes on the upper lids, eyes that roll shut when the doll is set on its back. That, more or less, is what Lansing does to Jane, and it's at her suggestion too. When they're alone, he suggests they get out of the house and have some fun tomorrow. She lifts her gaze meaningfully to his and says, "Philip, why can't we have some fun . . . right now?" He cradles her face with his nimble fingers and murmurs, "You look exactly like her." The similarity includes a skeletal frame that anthropologist's call "gracile", thin and full of grace, though flamboyantly feminine at the pelvic girdle. The air is redolent of incest.

    The real Heather returns secretly to the house and tells Jane a few things. The plastic doll is brought upright and the eyeballs click open. Now things get REALLY complicated. Do Heather and Jane decide to play a prank on Lansing by changing places for a day? Does Lansing decide to knock off Jane? Or Heather? Or BOTH? Medical discretion forbids further plot revelations.

    Lansing is the right guy for the role. The default setting for his features are a determined scowl and his voice is a resonant but mortally wounded baritone. So when, on rare occasions, he chuckles, you know it must mean something, though not necessarily that he finds the situation at all humorous.

    This was written and directed by John Grissmer who, for whatever reasons, did not go on to bigger and better things as this production suggests he might have. The scenes in surgery are pretty convincing. The musical score alternates between a swooping mystery/love theme and snapping snare drums during chase scenes, nothing spectacular. The photography is flat and lacks dynamics. And Grissmer may be a better writer than a director. Hitchcock would have turned this into a teeth-grinder but his religious convictions would have prevented him from imagining such a taboo story, or, if not from imagining it, at least from expressing it.
  • avatar

    Ƀ⁞₳⁞Ð Ƀ⁞Ǿ⁞Ɏ

    This film is available on video as "Scalpel", and it's quite interesting. Lansing is a crazed plastic surgeon who makes a disfigured dancer look like his missing daughter to claim a $2 million dollar inheritance. However, things get complicated when the real daughter reappears. Some interesting plot twists and decent acting makes this mystery worth a look.
  • avatar

    KiddenDan

    The topless stripper (Judith Chapman or a body double?) who gets her face bashed in at the start of the movie looks great topless from the shoulders down. Later, Judith Chapman gets chased through the woods in a hip-hugging red bikini. This is one of my favorite bikini scenes!
  • avatar

    AfinaS

    So many times since I bought this Blu-ray, I've picked it up and then put it down again. A low budget film featuring facial surgery, maybe not. And then I watched it! Great film, full of surprises, not least of which is that the early exposition is dealt with so smoothly. From the brutal and explicit beginning, through the background story, the surgery and all, we are skilfully informed as the pictures fade into each other and we have arrived at the beginning of the tale that we expected to be the ending. Set in Georgia we get wonderful pictures of green and gold burial grounds and overgrown ruins. An atmosphere of creepy otherness develops alongside shades of incest. More a dramatic tale with tinges of the Italian gallo than a horror, this is nevertheless horrific and not without surprises. One particular surprise towards the end really caught me off guard and is followed quickly by the chase through the woods of a skimpy bikini clad women that almost as surprising as it is stunning. And then surprising again! It is a tragedy that director John Grissmer only made one other film and that almost a remake of this. Robert Lansing is effective as the leading man but Judith Chapman is an absolute revelation. Her career seems to have been more in TV and it is true that the interiors here sometimes look more like TV but Chapman is marvellous in a difficult role and always convincing. This is an underrated film that seems to offer little but does quite the opposite with great location shooting, some stunning key scenes and some real shocks.
  • avatar

    Wizard

    Even having grown up in the seventies and after spending far too many nights beneath the moon at the drive-in I wasn't familiar with the movie SCALPEL. One would think that it surely made its way to one drive-in or another. But such was not the case where I lived. So when I heard it was coming to disc from Arrow Video I was looking forward to it to say the least.

    The story revolves around a family in the south, those stalwarts of times gone by who drink mint julips while relaxing on the front porch of some southern mansion. It opens with the death of the family patriarch and the reading of his will. Grandpa wasn't too fond of his family leaving only his dog to his son Bradley (Arlen Dean Snyder), nothing to his son-in-law Dr. Phillip Reynolds (Robert Lansing) and his entire wealth of $5 million to his granddaughter and Phillip's daughter Heather (Judith Chapman). The only problem is that Heather disappeared over a year prior and no one knows where she's at.

    As Bradley and Phillip are returning home after celebrating the old man's death a unclothed woman with a battered face falls in front of their car. Being a brilliant plastic surgeon, they gather her into Phillip's car and rush her to his hospital. There he takes care of her making the decision after noticing the similarities she shares with his daughter to give her Heather's face. With no identification she goes only by Jane Doe and when she's ready to leave, Phillip takes her to his home to recuperate.

    It is there that he shares his plan with her. With his daughter gone and no clue that she even still lives, he wants Jane to take her place. She will learn her speech patterns, who the various family members are and to become Heather. In return he agrees to give her half of the $5 million. What he fails to tell her is his homicidal ways having killed both Heather's mother and her boyfriend, the cause for her leaving.

    All goes well and the money is transferred. But then an eerie twist takes place. Phillip begins to fall for Jane. It takes on a creepy vibe as the man falls in essence for a woman who looks exactly like his daughter. Sure, he knows it's not her, but still.

    Things begin to unravel when Heather actually returns home. Heather accepts Jane's staying at the house and doesn't reveal anything to anyone. Joyous for her return Phillip makes plans for the three of them to live there in the house without being bothered. But Jane isn't quite sure of the situation. Before the final credits roll the twists and turns of the film will find a resolution for everyone concerned.

    The movie oozes charm and southern sophistication throughout even though the storyline revolves around murder most foul. Lansing who was a consummate actor and appeared on numerous TV series does a great job here, not making the character sympathetic but not painting him as a raving lunatic either. Chapman does a great job in both roles as Heather and Jane. Director only went on to do one other film, BLOOD RAGE, but cinematographer Edward Lachman, in what was his first time out as director of cinematography, went on to bigger things. Those include doing the same duties on films like SELENA, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, ERIN BROCKOVICH, CAROL and recently WONDERSTRUCK.

    Rather than receive the shabby treatment reserved for movies like this provided during the days of VHS it is now being released by Arrow Video and that immediately means that it is an upgrade over any version previously offered. To begin with we're presented with a brand new 2k restoration of the film on blu-ray format. There is also the option of watching the film in the southern gothic style overtones in coloring created by Lachman or the straightforward standard color version. Extras include a brand new audio commentary track by film historian Richard Harland Smith, brand new crew interviews, the original trailer, a reversible sleeve featuring new artwork by The Wins of Evil and lastly for the first pressing only a collector's booklet with new writing on the film by Bill Ackerman.

    The film might not be for everyone but for fans of those southern gothic novels, of thrillers and of horror movies you'll want to give this one a watch. In the end you might even enjoy it enough to have it grace the shelves of your collection. In either case it's worth giving a watch.
  • avatar

    Hap

    A murderous surgeon (Robert Lansing) concocts a twisted scheme to win his missing daughter's inheritance money: by transforming a Jane Doe (Judith Chapman) into her double.

    Although he was a constantly working actor, Lansing is probably best remembered as the authoritarian Brig. Gen. Frank Savage in "12 O'clock High" (1964), the television drama series about World War II bomber pilots. Genre fans may know him from "4D Man" (1959), "Empire of the Ants" (1977) or "The Nest" (1988). "Scalpel" is an early role for Judith Chapman who went on to star in a wide variety of soap operas.

    The film has been called a "Hitchcock wannabe", which is fair. But really, it is as good as some of Hitchcock's work. Maybe not his best films, but better than average.