Rich, chrome-domed businessman Telly Savalas is understandably miffed when his coke-snorting daughter Barbara (Caroline Munro) goes missing in Paris with the most expensive jewel in the world and, as headless corpses are cropping up left, right and centre, he hires gum-chewing gumshoe Christopher Mitchum to go and bring her back. But Babs’ hasn’t gone AWOL with the Black Panther just to powder her nose. Rather, high-class plastic surgeon Helmut Berger, his blonde bombshell of a bird Brigitte Lahaie and his cellar-dwelling pet-retard Gordon (Gerard Zalcberg) have kidnapped her to use her soft, luscious skin to fix Berger’s sister’s face, burned by acid by a dissatisfied customer.
OK, so the story (“influenced” by George Franju’s Eyes without a Face) concerning full face transplants is ludicrous, but I can live with that. In fact, I positively encourage it! But the movie’s finale, however, is so limp I can’t even be arsed making a token Viagra joke about it. I’d say “crash and burn” is a good way to describe it, as the plot suddenly runs out of steam and drops like Emanuelle’s knickers on a working vacation. Mind you, would you really want it any other way? Slapheads will be pleased with Faceless’ defiant flag-waving for the clean-shaven man – not only do we have the alopeciac presence of Telly Savalas, but we also have Zalcberg carrying on Terry Nutkins’ valiant, yet futile, battle against a receding hairline. Faceless’ laugh-a-minute poor taste doesn’t end with the evil Nazi surgeon or snogging a severed head; if you ever wanted to know why they call it Gay Paris, then here’s France’s premier puddle-jumping couple – think Rambo shagging Christopher Biggins! Gore fans, needless to say, will not be disappointed with an array of repulsion ranging from eyeball-popping to chainsawings, drillings and stabbings. However, this is definitely a case of quantity over quality as the special effects here are fucking abysmal. Seriously! The animatronics look like leftovers from The Muppet Show, and that’s only the beginning. Not that I’m bothered, of course, but you might be.
So basically, Faceless is crap. Utter bollocks. Absolute shite. A bag of wank. But, as I always say in situations like this, at least it isn’t boring. And being as we’re talking Jess Franco here, that’s saying a helluva lot.
Aka: Los Depredadores de la Noche, Les Predateurs de la Nuit
Legendary director of predominantly sex-and-horror-based material, Spanish-born Jesus Franco had as many as 200 directing credits to his name. Trained initially as a musician before studying film at the Sorbonne in Paris, Franco began directing in the late 50s. By using the same actors, sets and locations on many films, Franco has maintained an astonishing workrate, and while the quality of his work has sometimes suffered because of this, films such as Virgin Amongst the Living dead, Eugenie, Succubus and She Killed in Ecstasy remain distinctive slices of 60s/70s art-trash.
Most of his films have been released in multiple versions with wildly differing titles, while Franco himself has directed under a bewildering number of pseudonyms. Actors who have regularly appeared in his films include Klaus Kinski, Christopher Lee and wife Lina Romay; fans should also look out for his name on the credits of Orson Welles' Chimes of Midnight, on which he worked as assistant director.