Friday, February 24, 2012


The passing of Lina Romay made me realize that I'd seen few of her films nor lots of Jess Franco's stuff overall.  I watched THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF ten or so years ago and remember almost nothing about it except that it was awfully fun.  FACELESS was filmed much later and features Romay in a bit part as the wife of Dr. Orloff.  It's acclaimed as one of Franco's better works and also one of his juiciest in terms of splatter levels.

Truthfully, I wouldn't wander into this expecting ropes of intestines to be flying all across the screen.  The plot, which is basically EYES WITHOUT A FACE in the eighties, demands a certain amount of grue.  Can't have full face transplants without breaking a few faces, bro.  But this is no August Underground or Nacho Cerda thing, really.  A plastic surgeon makes one little mistake in his storied career and the victim/patient comes after him with a vial of acid.  His sister saves him only to get unprettied up.  From there, the doctor goes on a quest to find beautiful women and their faces to save his sister from her facelessness.

It is a Jess Franco movie, so I expected a lot of lurid sexy time.  Porn diva/Vanna White-doll hybrid Brigitte Lahaie is in this as the surgeon's assistant and Caroline Munro also shows up in a nighshirt to increase the dish count.  I wouldn't call FACELESS especially sleazy or anything, though.  It feels like the epitome of an eighties movie.  Models, cocaine, high-heel sex on pricey couches, and the Cutting Crew-style electro-pop "Theme from Faceless".  

I dug the cast a lot.  The aforementioned Lahaie and Munro, plus Chris Mitchum brings his usual spirit of grindhousey fun to a role as an investigator of sorts.  My hopes got high when I learned Telly Savalas was in this, but he really doesn't have much to do.  The effects are pretty solid and Franco wisely edits them in non-lingering ways for the most part, the second screencap above being a pretty egregious exception.  The film flirts with Big Themes like voyeurism (at one point, actresses and models are described as people who are paid to be looked at), but I suspect that most of it is pretty skin-deep, ha ha ha.

I wish I had more to say about this!  It's no masterpiece, but it's certainly an acceptable time-killer even if it's occasionally baffling in the Euro way.  Faceless!

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