Saturday, October 1, 2011
After his sister is disfigured by one of his patients, a crazy plastic surgeon and his sexy assistant begin abducting beautiful women, keeping them prisoner beneath his clinic. With the help of a former Nazi surgeon, he plans to cut of the face of a woman and transplant it on to his sister. Meanwhile, a private detective (played by Robert Mitchum's much less handsome, charming or talented son Chris) investigates the disappearance of one of the women.
Faceless is just a sleazed-up, sexed-up, gory ripoff of the French horror film Eyes Without a Face (which I'm considering rewatching this month), but that could have been a good thing. It was a lot slicker looking, with better production values, than I was expecting from a Jesus Franco movie, and the premise is still solid even if there was no chance in hell it could ever hold a candle to Georges Franju's classic. Mostly, though, it blows its potential on a glacial pace, with way too much downtime between major events, and too many go-nowhere subplots. In particular, Mitchum's story probably takes up 1/4 of the film but could have been excised entirely; for all his character accomplishes, he might as well have just shown up during the finale, instead of treating the audience to 4 or 5 scenes of his investigations that don't really have much to do with the rest of the film.
I was going to grade this one much lower, but if I'm being entirely honest, doctors freak me out and the idea of forced surgery is still a really creepy one to me. What I'm saying is, despite some unconvincing special effects here and there, the two relatively brief surgery scenes in this film, where a paralyzed victim helplessly watches as their mad doctors cut her face off, did get under my skin a little. So, credit where credit is due. Unfortunately, there's not enough of the creepiness to make up for the rest of the film and its general lack of quality in direction, writing, and acting, but it helps keep it from being a total wash.