SCALPEL (aka: FALSE FACE) (director/writer: John Grissmer; screenwriter: Joseph Weintraub/story by Joseph Weintraub; cinematographer: Edward Lachman Jr.; editors: Joseph Weintraub/Christopher Ness; music: Robert Cobert; cast: Robert Lansing (Dr. Phillip Reynolds), Judith Chapman (Heather/Jane), Arlen Dean Snyder (Uncle Bradley), David Scarroll (Dr. Robert Dean), Sandy Martin (Sandy); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Joseph Weintraub/John Grissmer; Charter Entertainment; 1977)
“The last minute twist is unconvincing and ludicrous.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
John Grissmer (“Blood Rage”)directs and cowrites with Joseph Weintraub this tawdry B-film psychological thriller.The last minute twist is unconvincing and ludicrous. But that’s not to say the uneven pic doesn’t have some redeeming features, such as being watchable and funky.It’s set in a small southern town, just outside Atlanta.
Creepy plastic surgeon Dr. Phillip Reynolds (Robert Lansing) might have killed his wife, at least his father-in-law thinks so. When the father-in-law dies, he cuts out of his will his irresponsible son Bradley (Arlen Dean Snyder) and the son-in-law he despises, Phillip, and leaves the entire estate and $5 million in cash to his granddaughter Heather (Judith Chapman). The only thing is that Heather has been missing for over a year, with her father Phillip not knowing where she has gone.
When Phillip discovers an exotic dancer in the gutter, whose face is smashed beyond recognition, he names her Jane Doe and schemes to give her a face that resembles his missing daughter. After the successful surgery Phillip makes a deal whereby she poses as Heather and they split her inheritance, as they bilk the estate. Judith Chapman plays both Heather and Jane Doe, making it hard to tell them apart since they not only look the same but act the same. Things get ticklish when the real Heather returns and the twisted plastic surgeon schemes to murder Jane. It leads to a surprise ending, one that seems to be hatched in a loony bin.
REVIEWED ON 7/15/2011 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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