Directed by Jesús Franco [Other horror films: Gritos en la noche (1962), La mano de un hombre muerto (1962), El secreto del Dr. Orloff (1964), Miss Muerte (1966), Necronomicon – Geträumte Sünden (1968), The Blood of Fu Manchu (1968), Der heiße Tod (1969), Marquis de Sade: Justine (1969), The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969), Paroxismus (1969), De Sade 70 (1970), Il trono di fuoco (1970), Nachts, wenn Dracula erwacht (1970), Les cauchemars naissent la nuit (1970), Vampyros Lesbos (1971), Sie tötete in Ekstase (1971), Jungfrauen-Report (1972), Drácula contra Frankenstein (1972), Der Todesrächer von Soho (1972), La fille de Dracula (1972), Dr. M schlägt zu (1972), Les démons (1973), La comtesse noire (1973), La maldición de Frankenstein (1973), La nuit des étoiles filantes (1973), Los ojos siniestros del doctor Orloff (1973), Al otro lado del espejo (1973), La noche de los asesinos (1974), Les possédées du diable (1974), La comtesse perverse (1974), Les gloutonnes (1975), L’éventreur de Notre-Dame (1975), Sexorcismes (1975), Frauengefängnis (1976), Jack the Ripper (1976), Un silencio de tumba (1976), In 80 Betten um die Welt (1976), Die Marquise von Sade (1976), Greta – Haus ohne Männer (1977), Die Liebesbriefe einer portugiesischen Nonne (1977), Die teuflischen Schwestern (1977), Der Ruf der blonden Göttin (1977), El sádico de Notre-Dame (1979), Mondo cannibale (1980), El caníbal (1980), Die Säge des Todes (1981), La tumba de los muertos vivientes (1982), La mansión de los muertos vivientes (1982), Revenge in the House of Usher (1983), El tesoro de la diosa blanca (1983), Macumba sexual (1983), Sola ante el terror (1983), Sangre en mis zapatos (1983), Mil sexos tiene la noche (1984), El siniestro doctor Orloff (1984), Lilian (la virgen pervertida) (1984), La esclava blanca (1985), Killer Barbys (1996), Tender Flesh (1997), Mari-Cookie and the Killer Tarantula (1998), Lust for Frankenstein (1998), Vampire Blues (1999), Dr. Wong’s Virtual Hell (1999), Helter Skelter (2000), Vampire Junction (2001), Incubus (2002), Killer Barbys vs. Dracula (2002), Snakewoman (2005), La cripta de las mujeres malditas (2008), La cripta de las mujeres malditas II (2008), La cripta de las condenadas (2012), La cripta de las condenadas: Parte II (2012)]
To be honest, I’ve not seen that many Jesús Franco flicks (and as you can see, even within just the horror genre, he was hella prolific). Off the top of my head, The Bloody Judge and Oasis of the Zombies are the only others from him I’ve seen. Not that I have anything against Franco – I’ve heard pretty mixed things about his work, but plenty of it sounds interesting. All of this is to say that I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going into this one, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did.
Sure, the gore here is definitely good, and I’ll touch on that in a bit, but the story was surprisingly solid, sympathetic to both sides of the violence. Things went a bit deeper than I’d have expected, and on a whole, it was a nice surprise.
As far as performances go, the only one that really stood out was Helmut Berger. Gérard Zalcberg was pretty solid as a degenerate rapist and murderer, to be sure, but Berger is by far the most memorable. It’s not as though we’re inundated with bad performances, though – most people here do perfectly fine.
The gore within Faceless is most paramount, though. It’s just fantastic – the most brutal scene is a botched removal of a face (utterly sickening, but it really does it’s job), but even the successful facial removal is gruesome (especially given the victim is still alive, and taunted with their own face in sociopathic fashion). You also have a decapitation by chainsaw, a stab through the throat by some scissors, a needle stab in the eye, some power drill and hook action, all the goodies. This movie came to play, and play it did.
Even without the great gore, there were some really suspenseful scenes here. In one, a victim was just about to make herself known to someone searching for her, but last second, she’s dragged into another room and all hope vanishes. Speaking of vanishing hope, the conclusion here is a lot darker than I’d have initially expected. Talk about a dreary finale.
Faceless isn’t the most amazing Italian movie of the late 1980’s, nor do I suspect it’ll be the most memorable as the days move on, but it was a surprisingly solid time, and I’d certainly recommend it to fans of the genre.
And for even more on this, Faceless was one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast, episode #28. If you’re interested, listen to Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.