Les Prédateurs de la Nuit / Los Depredadores de la Noche
René Chateau for René Chateau Productions, Ibero Films Internacional, ATC 3000, Films de la Rochelle
directed by Jess Franco
starring Helmut Berger, Brigitte Lahaie, Telly Savalas, Christopher Mitchum, Stéphane Audran, Caroline Munro, Christiane Jean, Anton Diffring, Tilda Thamar, Howard Vernon, Florence Guérin, Gérard Zalcberg, Henri Poirier, Laure Sabardin, Amelie Chevalier, Marcel Philippot, Tony Awak, Mony Dalmès, Doris Thomas, Daniel Beretta, antonina Laurent, Isabelle O., Nicky C., Jean Tolzac, Jacques Couderc, Pascale Vital, Lina Romay, Alain Barbier, Daniel G., Thierry F.
written by Jess Franco, Fred Castle (= René Chateau), Michel Lebrun, Jean Mazarin, Pierre Ripert, music by Romano Musumarra, special effects by Jacques Gastineau
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Ingrid Flamand's (Christiane Jean) face is horribly disfigured by an
acid attack - but fortunately, her brother Frank (Helmut Berger) is a
plastic surgeon who will stop at nothing to restore her beauty.
Unfortunately though, even his expertise doesn't suffice to give Ingrid
her beauty back - but fortunately, he is able to establish contact with
Nazi doctor Moser (Anton Diffring), who, thanks to his concentration camp
experiments, was able to take plastic surgery to a far higher - and
crueler - level than Frank could have even dreamed of. So soon, Frank's
basement starts to fill up with beautiful young women he needs for Moser's
further experiments and whom he and his assistant Nathalie (Brigitte
Lahaie) have abducted from various nightclubs and the like ... including
Barbara (Caroline Munro), the daughter of millionaire Terry Hallen (Telly
Savalas), who soon enough sends a private eye, Sam Morgan (Christopher
Mitchum), on her trail.
After much to and fro, Morgan finds Barbara in a
cell in Frank's basement - only to be locked in with her. And since
Moser's experiments have finally proven successful and Ingrid's beauty is
restored, the basement as a whole is walled in, to erase all traces of the
wrongs that have been done in Frank's clinic.
It seems evil has won this
time around - but wait, Terry Hallen, still worried about his daughter,
lets loose the cops on the clinic.
Howard Vernon has a guest appearance
as his popular character Doctor Orloff, with Lina Romay playing his
eternally beautiful wife, and Stéphane Audran plays one of Frank's
patients who tries to blackmail him.
Wow, this must be one of
the greatest trash-movie casts ever assembled: Helmut Berger, porn legend
Brigitte Lahaie, Telly Savalas, Howard Vernon, Anton Diffring, Lina Romay,
Caroline Munro, plus Robert's son Christopher Mitchum, all directed by
trash-legend Jess franco. Plus the film features some nudity and some
really gruesome gore scenes, and the film probably had the highest budget
of any Jess Franco-film ever. And the film is ... rather
disappointing actually: The film is actually another variation on Franco's
own Awful Dr Orlof from
1962 (which in turn is of course a variation on Georges Franju's Eyes
without a Face from 1960), a film on which Franco over the years has
done quite a few variations with varying degrees of success. However, with
Faceless the plot gets a streamlined thriller-treatment, to a
degree that it looks way too mainstream for a Jess Franco-film, too tame,
too impersonal, too ... boring, actually. In his cheaper films, Franco
always got away with some tongue-in-cheek humour, he was - out of
necessity - allowed to experiment with eccentric cameramovements and
set-ups (out of necessity since Franco's weird camerawork would save
massive amounts of time and money), and his films were almost invariably
high on good-natured sleaze. With Faceless however, the sleaze is
seriously downplayed, the camerawork is textbook-style and too slick to be
interesting, and there is next to no humour to lighten up the proceedings
- which is a massive shame, since the film could have been great had it
been directed by an unrestrained Jess Franco, and it would probably have
come in at half the budget, but as it is, it's just another piece of
slightly trashy horror cinema directed by a faceless (excuse the pun)
Still, the film, even as it is, is not all bad, a great B-cast
sees to that, but it's absolutely nothing to get excited about.