Friday, December 18, 2009

Faceless (1987)

Among Jess Franco's eighties movies, Faceless is probably his most stylish production. Bloody Moon is quite close, but with a Paris-setting in 1987 with big shoulder pads, soft-pop-disco, massive gore and a perfect casting-touchdown consisting of Helmut Berger, Telly Savalas, Chris Mitchum, Caroline Munro, Howard Vernon, Brigitte Lahaie, it's hard to fail.

Plastic surgeon Dr. Frank Flamand (Helmut Berger) lives in a strange incestuous relationship with his beloved sister Ingrid (Christiane Jean) and his medical colleague, the blonde psychopath Nathalie (Brigitte Lahaie). One evening Frank becomes the victim of an attack from an unhappy client, but his sister is the one who gets her face destroyed by acid! Frank and Nathalie starts to kidnap and murder young beautiful women to take their faces and transplanting them on Ingrid.

But one day photo model Barbara Hallen (Caroline Munro) is kidnapped and her father, Terry (Telly Savalas) sends private detective Sam Morgan (Chris Mitchum) to Paris to save his daughter. At the same time Frank begins to panic and decides to consult his old friend Dr. Orloff (Howard Vernon), the only who can perform a truly successful facial transplant. His answer is the old Nazi Dr. Karl Heinz Moser (Anton Diffring) who are still active. Now they need new fresh faces for the final operation ...

Faceless is as good as it can be. It also feels like and ending of a great career, which kinda is sad, but still proves the quality of our favorite director. Jess Franco weaves together his tale about Orloff, who was also the character that launched his career, together with new characters, but on a higher budget than normal. There's a dry sense of humor that feels very much like Uncle Jess. Faceless is also really brutal and bloody, and the effects works quite well, despite being a bit plastic. But what does it matter when the blood spurts in every direction? The story has a touch of the bizarre. Fetish-scenes and some soft-sex, but is never tasteless, just very stylish.

The end is cool and breaks the norm, rather strong, too. For who are the main characters anyway? Is Chris Mitchum we're rooting for? Hardly, it's instead the sadistic doctors and nurses! Franco directs with steady hands and most of the time the movie feels well thought out and the story works well even between the gore and splatter scenes. It's is also beautiful to see Howard Vernon in his last Franco film, in his classic role as Orloff. Here we have a genius at work, and he never lost touch of the characters he played, even if the movies somes was quite bad (Command Mengele anyone?).

I can not recommend this highly enough! Sleaze, blood, trash and... life is perfect!

1 comment:

mamoulian said...

Saw this for the first time on a trashy vhs clone from you know who... ;-) But it was uncut and a crazy trip for me - as with all those 90s vhs copies from Cannibal Ferox to Creepers... This is a very good film and one of Franco's better efforts.