Monday, June 2, 2008
Girls' Night In with Jess Franco's "Faceless"
While other girls were watching “Sex and the City” get its big-screen treatment this weekend, I gathered up a couple of my closest Lady Friends and screened another star-studded film chock full of glamour and big-city romance. Substitute “surgeon” for “advice columnist,” “Paris” for “New York,” “Brigitte Lahaie” for “Sarah Jessica Parker” and it’s really a simple step from "Sex and the City" to Jess Franco’s 1988 production, “Faceless.” Such is the genius of Franco that there’s also incest, kidnapping, rape, theft and Nazi mad science in the mix—themes that are disappointingly absent from the storylines of this weekend’s box office bonanza. I’ve discussed my love of “Faceless” here before, but I wanted to revisit this underrated gem of 80s Eurotrash horror with dear friends.
Please—pour yourself a Wild Turkey from the bottle on the kitchen counter and pull up a chair. It’ll be just like you’re in the room with me and the Costuminatrix, official Hugo Boss of the Tenebrous Empire, and Rawk Spice, Duchess of “Dynasty” References, as we discuss the cinematic delights of this guiltiest of movie pleasures. Be forewarned—this contains many more plot spoilers than my usual write-ups, but seeing as how this movie is just another in the infinite stream of “Eyes Without a Face” "reimaginings," I do hope you’ll give me a free pass.
RS: What the hell is with that Wham-esque song over the credits?
TK: I was thinking of Christopher Cross’ theme from "Arthur." "…BETWEEN THE MOON AND NEW YORK CIIII-II-TEE..." That song is haunting my dreams.
tC: I kept thinking “is that Barry Manilow?”
RS: And then we open right into a scene out of “Dynasty,” with Helmut Berger and everything. Peter De Vilbis—noooo…!
tC: Brigitte Lahaie is the NEW Emma Samms.
TK: This is proof positive that “Dynasty” would have been *vastly* improved with the addition of explicit gore scenes.
RS: Dr. Flammand seems awful close to his sister. It makes me think there’s some kind of incest thing going on here.
TK: You’re too much of a lady sometimes, my dear.
tC: The reason Brigitte Lahaie’s character pouts that Flammand doesn't love her enough is because he is totally schtupping his sister. It's just not the SAME with a hot former porn star, you know. And speaking of Nathalie, I was confused by the fact that every other woman in the movie EXCEPT for her had the "Dynasty goes softcore" hair and attire. Nathalie, however, apparently snuck into the Chanel 1930s vintage section when no one was looking. Way to trump those other hussies, girl.
TK: Good on Jess for dressing the former porn star like a screen goddess!
RS: And dressing everyone else like extras in an Expose video.
tC: Or a Skinemax flick starring Joan Collins.
RS: I was wondering what sort of world this was where every woman but the one in the wheelchair was wearing a merry widow under their clothes.
TK: We don't know that the woman in the wheelchair *wasn't* wearing a merry widow under her clothes. If *I* was under the care of Dr. Flammand, you can be hella-sure I'd wear the Special Undies.
RS: But you'd wind up with a needle in your eyeball for your trouble.
TK: It might be worth it. Let's put it this way—if I was the hooker character, and someone told me that Dr. Flammand hired me for a threesome with his hott nurse, but there was a significant chance I would have my face stolen, I'd play those odds. I would gladly pay for that ass-grope with my face.
RS: I agree the man is smooth and can work even a white lab coat, but the bowtie was a little incongruous. Kind of like a Nazi doctor saying he's a sentimentalist.
TK: I can ignore the bowtie. When you're made of pure sexy evil, you can totally do that. As for the sentimentalist Nazi mad scientist, that’s one of my favorite moments in any movie ever.
tC: Can we talk about the Creepy Handyman character? I'm pretty sure they sent him over straight from his Rape Demon gig in “Witchery,” pried the chewing gum off his lips, slapped a drill in his hands and said "carry on, oh, and this time YOU'RE getting molested by a chick with no discernable features, please pick up your paycheck at the office."
TK: He TOTALLY looks like the rape demon, but sadly he is not.
tC: Aw, you're kidding!! He looks EXACTLY LIKE the Rape Demon.....I can't believe there are two of them walking around. Rape Demons are more numerous than I thought.
TK: It was their innate rapeyness and lack of eyebrows that threw us off. It takes a TOUGH GUY like a Hasselhoff or a Chris Mitchum to take on a rape demon.
tC: And by "tough guy," you mean "getting walled up in the hospital cell like a total loser" or "failing to get into virginal mush-mouthed girlfriend's pants while the rape demon succeeded." Since it wasn't the same actor, please tell me it was Bob Geldof from the second half of "The Wall?"
RS: Yeah, the heroes of the movie were pretty damn unlikable, weren’t they?
TK: Caroline Munro as the kidnapped supermodel daughter of Telly Savalas is easy on the eyes and everything, but Chris Mitchum’s private eye was hideous. Chris Mitchum--TOUGH GUY! Or... wait... no... Chris Mitchum--SON OF A TOUGH GUY!
tC: Waitaminute, no way, that's Robert Mitchum's less talented son? I thought he was the bastard child of a horribly botched spawning between Christopher Walken and Clint Eastwood. At least, HE seemed to think he was. I am pretty sure he has father issues.
TK: I was delighted at what I viewed as being the happiest ending in cinema history, for what it’s worth. Hooray for Dr. Flammand, Sister Flammand, Nathalie, Sentimental Nazi Doctor and their ultimate escape from French justice!
RS: I thought they were going to hug and sway, maybe to the bangle's "eternal flame". ANYTHING but the damn Wham song.
tC: I wondered if they were going to let the Nazi doctor in on their threesome.
TK: OK now you just made it creepy.
tC: I wondered if they were going to let Telly Savalas in on their threesome.
RS: Yeah, what WAS Telly Savalas saying at the end of the movie?
TK: Doesn’t matter. Was in French—can’t understand. I’m assuming Team Flammand was completely successful in their dastardly plan. Now—what do you think they were drinking during the toast? I mean, I’d imagine Dr. Flammand has some sort of special, favorite drink.
tC: Plasma and Fruchtkrieg.
RS: Blood and Veuve Clicquot. Or Schlitz.
TK: I was just thinking “something with cognac.” You girls are clearly the bartenders of the group!
RS: I’m seized with a sudden, unexplainable need for shoulder pads.
tC: And a leather miniskirt and Aqua Net.
TK: That’s all right, I won’t be able to sleep tonight because of that damn theme song…
Enjoy a Flickr gallery of stills from "Faceless."