Friday, August 12, 2011
Franco Friday #29: Faceless
Franco Friday #29
I have to tell you, I feel liberated. Knowing that after this, there are only four more Franco Fridays is just awesome. Imagine me dressed up like Prince (Under the Cherry Moon era) and screaming at myself in the mirror: "The countdown has begun, beyatch!" Okay, don't imagine that. Anyway, I was going to watch Eugenie... The Story of Her Journey into Perversion this week but I bumped it from the final five since I had not one but two requests for Faceless and I (almost) always (never) give people what they want on CinSom. Y'all ever been to Miami? I HAVE!
AKA Las Predateurs de la Nuit
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Helmut Berger, Brigitte Lahaie, Telly Savalas, Christopher Mitchum, Stephane Audran, Caroline Munro
After his sister’s face is melted off by an unsatisfied customer, plastic surgeon Dr. Flamand (played by Helmut Berger) conducts illegal experiments in order to restore her beauty. He and his assistant (Brigitte Lahaie) pick up models, hookers, and actresses so that Dr. Moser (Anton Diffring), a former Nazi surgeon, can cut their faces off and use them for possible transplant candidates. When they take a model (Caroline Munro) with a rich father (Telly Savalas), they draw the attention of private eye Sam Morgan (Christopher Mitchum). Faces and other human parts are gonna fly!
If you take all the elements of Faceless separately, nothing adds up. Let’s start with the music. While I admit that it is very catchy, the songs are some putrid sub-basement level pop garbage. The score during the horror scenes peps up a bit. The acting is all over the place and the actors are either dubbed or should have been dubbed. But I’ll talk more about that in a moment. The editing gets real impatient during the dialog scenes but that is totally forgivable with this script. The sleazy elements of this movie are very awkward. You can almost feel the pent up frustration of horny old Franco as his actors paw at each other like teenagers in a darkened theater while Jaws: The Revenge plays unwatched up on the screen.
I’ve got to hand it to Jacques Gastineau, the guy can make some splatter happen. His gore effects are quite satisfying here. Maybe his faux heads look a little weak but most of the other parts are solid. Or squishy. Thanks to Gastineau, Faceless has eye violence, severed hands, a nasty rotting head, and, as promised in the title, facelessness. If you’re not at least a little shocked by a certain scene where a face transplant goes awry and some wicked face shredding takes place then my friend, you need to take a break from horror for a while. Go watch some Murder She Wrote until gore means something to you again.
The more I think about this cast, the more my brain aches. Brigitte Lahaie (Grapes of Death), who has never disappointed me EVER is great as the loyal, evil, and insanely greedy Nathalie. Helmut frickin’ Berger (The Bloodstained Butterfly) is in this one and the only way his character could have been any more awesome is if his name had been Dr. Fromage. The great Anton Diffring is totally awesome as the hilariously evil Dr. Moser. Keep your face peeled for a sweet cameo from Lina Romay as the wife of Dr. Orloff. Oh that’s right, there is a Dr. Orloff in this movie and he is played by Howard Vernon. I think I will call him Ho-Vern from now on. You like that?
I will admit that these are some very stiff performances but who cares? This is Euro horror, my friends. Deal with it. Telly Savalas probably wasn’t the only person who didn’t give a shit on the set of Faceless but he’s the only one letting it show. And just for the record, I am softening on the issue of Christopher Mitchum. I used to really dislike this guy but then it dawned on me: He is a B movie actor, so chill, dawg! Those are words from my actual brain. To be fair, he’s actually okay in Faceless. His fight scenes are good and when he meets up face to face with a very dark twist in the plot, the guy gets it together. I wanted to see more of him and Caroline Munro. Their brief scenes together are pretty promising but whaddayagonnado?
I don’t know why but I dig Faceless as much as I do. It might have something to do with the fact that Howard Vernon has more makeup on than Brigitte Lahaie and Caroline Munro combined. It might be the garish lighting and the French cinematographers. Heck, it might even be the presence of one of the worst gay stereotypes ever: the bitchy fashion photographer. I think someone actual told this guy to out-sass the one in The Case of the Bloody Iris. Damn. Anyway, there is just something irresistible about Franco’s adventures in splatter. This and Bloody Moon are good time films and are sure to garner him some fans that will be totally confused when they get to something like Women Without Innocence. Yeah right, I'm the only one dumb enough to watch that!
“You dirty bitch! When I get outta here, I’ll tear your heart out!”