Review: “Faceless” (1987)

facelesslahaieBrigitte Lahaie hits a bullseye in Faceless

Before I get to reviewing the spectacularly trashy 1987 Jess Franco flick Faceless, please watch the below trailer and answer the question that follows.

After watching the above trailer, I believe that Faceless is actually:

  1. A camptastic remake of Eyes Without a Face
  2. A feature-length ad for Charlie Perfume
  3. A particularly gory episode of Moonlighting

If you’ve answered 1, 2 or 3 … you’re right!

facelessposter

Seriously, Faceless has it all: Fashion shoots, drugged-out models, lesbian starlets, threesomes, graphic face removals, mongoloid rapists, cantankerous old biddies in wheelchairs, muscle men, gay photographers, Nazis, offspring of Hollywood royalty, and Telly Savales.

And of course it’s all expertly carried out with the garish palette, disregard for human dignity and excruciatingly bad dubbing that we have all come to expect from Italian, French and Spanish horror from the 1970′s-’90′s. Which is to say, it was probably conceived and produced in its entirety by a can of hairspray and a kilo of primo cocaine.

The basic story is a ramped-up Eyes Without a Face – only in this version, it’s a plastic surgeon’s woofed-out model sister with the viscous visage, thanks to a misthrown vial of acid tossed at the doctor by a disgruntled patient. Hedonistic Doctor Flamand (trash mainstay Helmut Berger of Dorian Gray fame) makes it his life’s work to replace his sister’s puss, no matter how many loose women he needs to flay in the process.

facelessgayIS CHRIS MITCHUM GONNA HAVE TO CHOKE A BITCH?!

Enter into this equation a bizarre, Gia-like subplot involving a coke-crazed American supermodel named Barbara Hallen (played with jaw-grinding intensity and altitude-shattering bangs by Maniac‘s Caroline Munro), who goes missing during the most awesomely lame fashion photo shoot since … well, since Maniac. (“Goin’ to the show-dowwwwn…”)  Her father (Telly Savalas) sends a milquetoast investigator played by Robert Mitchum spawn Christopher to find her. (Savalas clearly owed the elder Mitchum money from a card game and showed up for one day of shooting on this mess as payment.)

Eventually the stories collide (Munro’s cokey Barbara is a planned face-graft victim) but before that happens we are treated to countless hilariously overwrought acting moments, unexpectedly colorful surprises: aforementioned lesbian starlet, a strange sequence involving a male hustler, and a mincing gay photographer and his thong-wearing bodybuilder boytoy, to name a few.

facelesslalohan Lindsay Lohan, take notes: THIS is how a lesbian starlet works the floor

All the while the insanely sleazy (and infuriatingly catchy) theme tune (“Confidential phone call…”) blares and blares (they seriously must play it at least 30 times) and Flamand’s icy bisexual head nurse (former porn actress Brigitte Lahaie, whom you no doubt remember from the arthouse classic Diva as “The Girl without Underpants”) owns the screen thanks to her gloriously expressionless performance and apparent disregard for eyebrows.

It’s odd: I had never really counted myself as a Jesus “Jess” Franco fan, but something about Faceless‘s gonzo, sprawling giallo plot and fashion industry setting really worked for me. Watching the movie is like getting slapped in the face by 1987, and I mean that in the best possible way: It’s trashy, it’s completely self-absorbed, and it loves it some steamy saxophone.

Basically, if you’ve never given Franco a shot or have been disappointed by his other popular titles (Vampiros Lesbos, Blood Moon, the Dr. Orloff series), this might be the film to check out. The movie was originally released as Predators of the Night in Europe and renamed Faceless for the USA, but perhaps Tasteless would have been a more appropriate title.

RATING (OUT OF 5):

ReviewFourSkully

Faceless is rated R for nudity, lesbianism, gratuitous gay stereotyping, graphic violence, and rampant on-set cocaine use.

And thanks to thetenebrouskate for the hot stills! Except for the one currently serving as the blog banner, which I grabbed myself, mmmokay?

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Buzz created CampBlood.org in 2003 to meet a need for a safe place for weirdos of all stripes to discuss horror movies from a queer perspective. Now that the campers have overtaken the Camp staff and locked them in the Arts & Crafts cabin he is questioning that decision.