Jesse Franco’s Faceless a Wonderfully Bizarre Experience

Jess Franco was responsible for some of the most outlandish, perverse and psychedelic horror of the 60s and 70s; A Virgin Among the Living Dead, Vampyros Lesbos and Venus in Furs are just a few his infamous titles. When Franco tried to tackle Georges Franju’s classic Eyes Without a Face, the concept seemed like a winner.
Faceless feels a bit like a soap opera combined with a Tom Savini horror movie special effects tape. The movie was released in 1987, so there is a bit of 80’s cheese here, but it mixes well with the oddball horror scenes.

Helmut Berger stars as the mad plastic surgeon who spends as much time dealing with the emotional problems of his acid- scarred sister as he does trying to catch models so he can swipe their skins. Quentin Tarantino showed a bit of Berger on a television screen in Jackie Brown, here you get to see Berger in all his glory.

Brigitte Lahaie does a competent job as Berger’s horny nurse. Her standout scenes including a tender moment as she jams a hypodermic needle into a nosy patient’s eyeball and a moment where she kills a male prostitute with a pair of scissors. OUCH! Bond Girl Caroline Munro has some good screen time as a scantily-clad model chased around a padded cell by Berger’s brain-dead flunky, Gordon.

The movie has some classic moments, including a botched skin graft where an ex-nazi doctor accidentally peels off most of one woman’s face. He hollers over and over for a compress, but when your skull is showing through the bloody remains, it’s a tad bit too late. It’s one of the most effective moments in the film; in fact, many of the scariest scenes have operating tables in them. If the rest of the movie had the same menace, it would be almost unbearable to sit through.

Jesse Franco fans will want this Shriek Show DVD to hear Franco’s commentary, presented in French with English subtitles. One interesting bit of trival revealed about Faceless in the commentary is Franco’s admission on the commentary track that he wasn’t “one hundred percent happy at how the film turned out.”

After FACELESS, try Franco’s masterpiece Venus in Furs or Vampyros Lesbos, where the soundtracks are groovy, the furniture is bright orange, and the weirdness factor is sky-high.

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