Faceless (1987) An Eye Popping Review

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Faceless (1987) An Eye Popping Review

Moving swiftly along toward the latest edition of ’11 Questions with…’ This time it’s going to be a bonus sized edition with legendary filmmaker John Carpenter on Monday April 2nd 2012! In the mean time, there’s this…

Ahh… Jess Franco. When I hear his name I immediately see breasts before my eyes.

And, his 1987 (excessively 1987,) Eurotrash (excessively Eurotrash,) exercise in bad taste (EXCESSIVELY bad taste) Faceless doesn’t disappoint in the tit department, but it does, unfortunately, do so in numerous other areas…

Quite sad too, because this could have ended up an all time classic…

I spose in the end it’s probably Franco’s best and most accessible film, overall… not that that’s saying much.

The plot, in a nutshell, begins when the beloved (incestuously beloved,) gorgeous-model-sister of a renowned plastic surgeon (played with seedy relish by Helmut Berger) is horrifically disfigured (how does every average Joe get access to such powerful acids in the movie world?) by a disgruntled (and also disfigured) former patient. The surgeon then cares for his (increasingly, delightfully, bitchy) sister in seclusion with the help of his sexy nurse girlfriend; while trying to return her face to it’s former beauty… by, of course, surgically removing the faces of other gorgeous models for transplant purposes.

Great concept right (John Woo… are you a fan)? Not so hot in the execution department.

As with most of Franco’s films the pacing is far too sluggish for the subject matter. This thing should move like a nasty, slice n dice tinker toy (I’d give anything for a De Palma, or even Frank Henenlotter, remake) but instead moseys along like a sleazy raft on a lazy river made of blood covered breasts.

The performances are better than usually found in Franco Flicks (particularly from Berger.) The always enjoyable Telly Savalas is on hand in a slumming (obviously filmed in 1 day) cameo as the father of one of the models Berger is trying to give an extreme facial to. And, Christopher Mitchum turns in a decidedly decent (for him) role as a hard boiled detective trying to find Savalas’s daughter, that more than brings to mind his legendary father Robert Mitchum.

Chuck in a few (but nowhere near enough) high quality gore scenes; including a cringe worthy eyeball meets syringe attack, a nerve rattling power drill to the face bit and some GRAPHIC, and fairly realistic (love the moving eyeballs) face removal scenes; an evil ex-Nazi doctor who specializes in the field of face transplantary; a humorously annoying, out of place, sappy ballad theme song and an offensively (but hilariously) fem gay couple and, you do get the recipe for a mostly decent, fairly unique slasher film.

But it could have been so much more and that’s why I’m more displeased with it then I generally would be.

Had the performances been ramped up to 11 on all fronts, the pace been tightened judiciously, the kill scenes been thrown out at a faster (and higher) rate and had they 100% followed through on the twisted “happy” ending (only implied in the final cut) Faceless could have been a sleaze/exploitation/horror masterpiece of the highest order, up there with Savage Streets, Maniac and Dressed to Kill.

Alas, it falls a bit more than a scalpel’s edge of perfection. But, I still recommend it as a nice laugh for those who enjoy this sort of thing, and maybe as a bit of a stomach churner for those who don’t.

6 out of 10 disgusted male prostitute cranial knifings.


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