Faceless ★★★★

What do you get when you have one of cinema's most economic genre filmmakers retelling a standard tale of his, but with budget that can afford a cross section of cult film performers? This late 80s Eyes Without a Face-style film of course.

Like his 1976 film, Jack the Ripper starring Klaus Kinski, Jess Franco eschews his 42nd Street surrealism in favor of a relatively lavish-looking film. Gone are the inventive days of Venus in Furs and Eugenie, and here comes a sleeker, neon-lit, synth-slathered world for Franco to play with.

Faceless is still as erotic as any other Franco film, but you know something's changed when you get Brigitte Lahaie, Helmut Berger, Telly Savalas, Chris Mitchum (who sounds a shit ton like Clint Eastwood here), Caroline Munro, and Anton Diffring on the same negative. A cast like that takes on Franco's revamp of his 1962 "reconstruct my disfigured relative" horror The Awful Dr. Orloff with a great deal of commitment. Everyone plays everything with such conviction, and I couldn't be happier. Franco himself, while not the tightest screenwriter, keeps things moving along nicely, crafts plenty of shocking sequences with more gore than I'm used to from him, and maintains a chilly ambience amidst everything. Colorful lighting schemes, a chill title song, and a cool synth-heavy soundtrack all make the film scream 80s in the best way.

While Franco has been known to make more than a few dumb films (not everything can be winner when you make a million films in a year), he's by no means a stupid filmmaker, and Faceless benefits from his honest-to-God craftsmanship & a budget that can indulge his creativity. A pulpy, surprisingly suspenseful 80s horror from him is just what the doctor ordered. Seriously would love a blu-ray release of this.

Jake liked these reviews