Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media

Double Face aka Liz Et Helen (1969)
Review by Dan Taylor

In this German/Italian co-production (Colt Produzioni Cinematografiche/SRL Rome, Mege Film/SPA Rome, Rialto Film Preben Philipsne GMBH & CO. KG Berlin), Klaus performs a variation on the classic victim/victimizer role that he has perfected in countless exploitation films over the years. During a holiday, K2 falls head over heels for some babe, and they experience much delight as they slide down a hill in front of a movie screen playing winter scenes. Of course, this kind of movie magic tomfoolery can only lead to one thing, and soon the two are married. However, a slight problem arises when we discover that the wife won't sleep with Klaus. Is it because he looks like a creepy Michael Sarrazin clone? No, it's because she's a lesbian! I guess this never came up during the courtship.

Despite this character flaw, she still names Klaus the sole heir to her incredible fortune. Does anyone else suspect that she won't live till the end credits? If you answered "yes" to that question, you deserve a hearty handshake, a pat on the back, and our warmest congratulations. Because faster than you can say "suspicious circumstances," "somebody" tampers with her car and when Helen goes on holiday, her toy car blows up, careens down a papier mache hill and into some cardboard trees where it blows up...destroying the body inside "beyond recognition." Rest easily though folks, there's "no doubt" whose body it is.

Klaus does what any grieving widower would do...he visits every place he and Helen had fun at, thus making him a key suspect in her death. At this point, DOUBLE FACE goes totally bonkers. Klaus comes home from his latest trip and finds a girl in his house. Several questions come to mind: Who is she? Why is she in the house? Why is she in the movie? Why does Klaus act as if he knows her, despite the fact that this is her first appearance in the film? Ahhhhhh, Italian film madness begins to take hold on my brain, and I start to lose my grip on reality. (It should come as no surprise that the flick was scripted by the insane Lucio Fulci.)

Like any right-thinking German crazoid, K2 follows the chick to a bizarre club where he sees a film of what looks like his wife making love to the girl... AFTER HER DEATH!! (Insert prerequisite deafening piano score here) And so Klaus has a mission (and the movie has a point)... to find his wife, if she is in fact alive. This torturous journey (for both Klaus and the viewer) results in our hero getting the shit beat out of him in this incredibly cool scene where he is shot in mis-framed ultra close-up so that we never actually see him get hit, yet his body is getting severely thwacked around. Okay, okay, I know it sounds stupid, but it really is pretty cool. He also threatens a chick with a broken wine bottle ("Now talk, if you want to save that face of yours"), makes his father-in-law think he's nuts, smokes alot of cigarettes, and has an Italian babe with big fluttering eyelashes tell him: "I wanted to see you, but then I fell asleep like mischevious children do." Do you understand this line? I've contemplated it for weeks, and I still don't have a clue.

The eventual end to DOUBLE FACE is both unsatisfying and pretty transparent early on, even though director Robert Hampton (aka Riccardo Freda) tries his best to confuse the viewer by throwing in a character at the conclusion who wasn't in the prior 117 minutes. I don't know... somehow that doesn't seem fair to me.

DOUBLE FACE isn't one of Klaus's best works, but then again it doesn't give him much to do other than walk around, look bemused, smoke, and talk to Italian chicks. Can you blame him for not giving it his all?


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