Doctor Charles Taylor (Fernando Rey) is a plastic surgeon. He has developed a formula using a type of plastic that can be molded into any shape. The plastic can repair scar tissue at an incredible rate. Along with a fluid he’s developed that will adhere the plastic to human flesh. He believes he can reverse skin damage in one day that would normally take three years to do. At a meeting at the Institute of Neuro-Science he presents his theory to the Board of the Madrid Institute of Mental Health. Although Taylor has developed his procedure he has yet to try his technique on a patient. Dr. Taylor is at the Institute to ask to use his process on one of the hospital’s patients.
The board understands that the doctor wants to either retain control of the process or establish a licensing fee for the use of it. The board wants it free. The board refuses to let the doctor try his process on one of their patients. They claim it is a matter of ethics. The doctor leaves empty handed. Or at least he thinks so. Unknown to him, one of the patients was standing outside the window during the board meeting. She stowed away in the doctor’s car. When he gets home his assistant Alma Woods (Concha Cuetos) is waiting. He tells her what happened in the meeting and sends her home.
As soon as Alma leaves a woman comes into his laboratory. She says her name is Norma Borden (Lisa Gaye). One side of her face is severely damaged from an oil lamp explosion four years ago. She begs the doctor to help her. He finally agrees when she tells him she will commit suicide if he won’t. Dr. Taylor treats Norman and restores her face to normal. He gives her a solution and tells her she must apply it to her face whenever it feels tight so that the plastic doesn’t dry out too fast.
When Dr. Taylor goes to hand Norma her dress he sees a label inside that states it is the property of the mental hospital. Realizing that he has treated a mental patient without the authorization of the hospital puts him in a bind. He could lose his license unless he can make them understand that he was unaware who she was. He tells Norma that she must go back to the hospital. Norma flies into a rage and hits the doctor over the head with a vase sending him crashing to the floor.
In the meantime the hospital realizes that one of their patients is missing. Two detectives, Mandel (Eduardo Sancho) and Alec (Pepe Martin) are called in to find her. They speak with Dr. Chambers (Gerard Tichy) from the hospital and find out that Norma is severely scarred and dangerous. They learn from a colleague, Inspector Hopkins (Emilio Rodriguez), about Dr. Taylor’s accident. Taylor is now in a wheelchair because of Norma’s burst of rage. The Inspector and the detectives realize that they need to find Norma quickly before she tries to kill anyone else.
“Face of Terror” AKA “La cara del terror” was released in 1962 in Spain and 1964 in the U.S. and was directed by Isidoro M. Ferry. For the US English language dubbed version additional footage directed by William J. Hole Jr. was added. It is a science fiction thriller. There’s not a lot of information out there for this film, at least in the U.S. It is on DVD but I’ve only seen it for sale by Sinister Cinema. The film is rather obscure despite the fact that it stars Fernando Rey and Lisa Gaye.
Most of Rey’s films were done in Spain; however, he was in “Moon over Parador” 1988, “The French Connection” 1971 and “The French Connection II” 1975, not to mention his having a couple sword and sandal films among his 244 credits. Lisa Gaye was an American actress who guest starred in just about every American television show out there between 1955 and 1970. She’s drop dead gorgeous and perfect in this.
It’s actually not a bad little film. The acting is good and the production values are good. There were some grainy spots in the film I saw but it could just be my copy.
There’s a lot of trash talk in the film about Norma being homicidal. She is, but considering what she’s been through I can’t blame her all that much. When she was scarred she was shunned and when she was beautiful she was objectified, assaulted and blackmailed. I’d be really pissed too. There are a few slow spots but keep following Norma around and something interesting will soon happen. Her personality is quite the doctor Jekyll and Ms. Hyde.