FACELESS (1987) – The Dungeon Review!
This weekend I had a serious 80s fixation! It started with Faceless than I moved to the excellent White of the Eye (1987), on to the hilarious Polyester (1981), a little hardcore porn (porn of the weirdest, funniest and most surrealistic variety possible) with Night Dreams (1981) and finished up with the wonderfully wacky Dr. Caligari (1989), It was a helluva fun weekend of movie watching! I also went to two documentaries as part of my DOXA experience; Casting By and Perverts Guide to Ideology. Wine was drank. It was a good weekend.
Christmas in Paris; a man and two women, clearly well to do, are being driven around in a limousine. The man is a doctor named Frank Flamand. Flamand is confronted in a parking garage by an unhappy customer. Quicker than you can say The Awful Dr. Orlof the angry customer is throwing acid in the face of Ingrid Flamand. Forward to the immediate future and we meet model Barbara Hallen who decides to buy her coke from the wrong sort of people. People who in fact want to remove her face and affix it to someone else’s. Clearly it is the good Dr. Frank Flamand behind the shenanigans. Flamand along with the help of his assistant and lover Nathalie are stealing women’s faces to save Ingrid’s. Problem is Dr. Flamand is not a good enough doctor to pull it off. He seeks the aid of Dr. Orlof who hooks him up with a former Nazi doctor Dr. Karl Heinz Moser. Meanwhile Barbara Hallen’s father has hired private detective Sam Morgan to find her.
The godawful 80s theme song played during the opening credits is played multiple times throughout the film. They repeat it so goddamn many times it got to be funny after a while. I enjoyed the hell out of Faceless but I am always going to think of that theme song when I recall it. It is featured in this trailer too; check it out…
Faceless features a cast of familiar and talented European actors and actresses that is well worth noting. I’ll also add that this is one of the more coherent Franco films. The dialog is actually not bad, although there are a couple unintentional laughs. Nathalie is pretty gleeful about her acquisition of reluctant female face donors. Nathalie is a sadistic, horny, kleptomaniac played perfectly by Brigitte Lahaie. She is all sorts of fun! Helmut Berger is serious as cancer playing the mad doctor; that Helmut Berger guy is great. Sam Morgan the private dick takes a few good beatings and really steps up to the plate to rescue the damsel; Christopher Mitchum was well cast and looks plenty defectivey. That is one really bad-ass acid scar on poor Ingrid Flamand. Ingrid is upset a lot and is getting sick and tired of all the damn surgeries. Ingrid is not the most enviable role in the film, but Christiane Jean does just fine. The doctor’s handyman Gordon is an Igor type character Franco-style. He does whatever is asked of him but sometimes takes liberties with the face donors. He is a pretty creepy dude and Gerard Zalcberg gets that. Anton Diffring harnesses his inner-Nazi beautifully as Dr. Karl Heinz Moser the former Nazi doctor. Caroline Munro does a sweet job as the big-80s-haired coke snorting kidnapped model Barbara Hallen. Her father Terry Hallen is played by Telly Savalas who has a few brief scenes in an office. And finally, I loved the little cameo where Howard Vernon plays Dr. Orlof as he did for Franco previously in the titular role of The Awful Dr. Orlof (1962).
Faceless is 100% pure Jess Franco and is without a doubt one of my favourite post 70s offerings. It is definitely one of Franco’s most energetically paced not to mention gorier films. Violence and action appear at regular intervals ranging from acid in the face and a drill to the head to a hilarious fist fight and an axe versus fire extinguisher battle. It’s all fun and games until someone loses their face! The story is not exactly original, Franco himself directed the aforementioned The Awful Dr. Orlof with a similar premise. But rest assured, this is clearly a product of the 1980s, the huge hair, big shoulder pads, bad music and graphic gore of the decade make this film shine.
Faceless is screamingly 80s; sleazy, violent, funny, well-cast and a real riot! Highly recommended.
Dungeon Rating: 4/5
Directed By: Jesus Franco
Starring: Helmut Berger, Brigitte Lahaie, Telly Savalas, Christopher Mitchum, Stéphane Audran, Caroline Munro, Christiane Jean, Anton Diffring, Tilda Thamar, Howard Vernon