Friday, July 29, 2022

Faceless – Severin Films (4k UHD/Blu-ray Combo)

Theatrical Release Date: France/Spain, 1987
Director: Jesús Franco
Writers: Pierre Ripert, René Chateau, Jean Mazarin, Michel Lebrun, Jesús Franco, Dominique Eudes
Cast: Helmut Berger, Brigitte Lahaie, Telly Savalas, Christopher Mitchum, Stéphane Audran, Caroline Munro, Christiane Jean, Anton Diffring, Tilda Thamar, Howard Vernon, Florence Guérin, Gérard Zalcberg, Lina Romay

Release Date: June 10th, 2022
Approximate Running Time: 99 Minutes 13 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 2160 Progressive / HEVC / H.265 / HDR10
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono French
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $49.95

"a glossily depraved tale of disfigurement, dismemberment, libidinous brutes, Nazi surgeons, Paris discos, face-ripping, throat-stabbing, eyeball-piercing and what may be Uncle Jess’ most rewardingly ambiguous ending ever." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5 (4K UHD), 4/5 (Blu-ray)

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "now scanned for the first time in 4K from the original negative ."

Faceless comes on a 66 GB dual layer 4K UHD.

Disc Size: 59.8 GB

Feature: 57.1 GB

Faceless comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 43.9 GB

Feature: 29 GB

The source used for this transfer looks great, and it is easily a marked improvement over Shriek Show’s 2004 DVD release. That said, colors are vivid and nicely saturated, flesh tones look correct, image clarity and black levels are solid, and there does not appear to be any digital noise reduction.

The Blu-ray that comes with this release also looks great. That said, the 4K UHD transfer looks stronger in every way when compared to the Blu-ray’s transfer.

Audio: 4.5/5 (DTS-HD Mono English)

This release comes with two audio options: a DTS-HD mono mix in English and a DTS-HD mono mix in French. For this review, I only listened to the English language track since the French language track does not come with subtitles. The English language track is in great shape; dialog comes through clearly; everything sounds balanced and robust when it should. Included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles for the English language track.

Extras:

Extras on the 4K UHD disc include a French language theatrical trailer (1 minute 49 seconds, LPCM mono French with removable English subtitles), a English language theatrical trailer (1 minute 50 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), and an archival audio commentary with director Jess Franco and actress Lina Romay, in French with removable English subtitles.

Extras on the Blu-ray disc include a French language theatrical trailer (1 minute 49 seconds, LPCM mono French with removable English subtitles), a English language theatrical trailer (1 minute 50 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), a parody short starring Brigitte Lahaie titled Therese II: The Mission (3 minutes 3 seconds, Dolby Digital mono French with removable English subtitles), an archival scene select audio commentary with actor Chris Mitchum (27 minutes 16 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with actor Chris Mitchum (14 minutes 10 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with Jess Franco and Lina Romay (18 minutes 15 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), archival EPK interviews with actors Helmut Berger, Chris Mitchum And Telly Savalas (8 minutes 34 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with actress Brigitte Lahaie titled The Female Predator (16 minutes 7 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an interview with actress Caroline Munro titled Parisian Encounters (25 minutes 55 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Kim Newman, author of Nightmare Movies titled Facial Recognition (20 minutes 27 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Stephen Thrower, author of Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús Franco titled Predators of The Night (26 minutes 8 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), and an archival audio commentary with Jess Franco and Lina Romay, in French with removable English subtitles.

Other extras include a limited-edition slipcover.

Summary:

Jess Franco is the type of filmmaker whose films have to be watched when in the right frame of mind. And though he would have been the first to criticize his own work, there’s no denying that when he was on, he was able to deliver memorable cinema that continues to lure in the uninitiated into the addictive world of Jess Franco.

Despite working on a wide range of film genres, his most notable films fall into the horror and erotica genres. With an emphasis on the latter, he started his film career working primarily in the horror genre, and though many of these films are widely regarded as some of his best, he would only return to the horror genre sporadically after the mid-1960’s. Faceless was his most notable foray into the horror genre after the 1960s.

With a film like Faceless, Jess Franco would return to his horror roots, albeit with a more modern twist that was clearly inspired by the slasher film genre, which rose to prominence in the 1980’s. Besides the Slasher film, another clear influence is Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face.

Faceless differs from the films Jess Franco made from 1971 to 1987 in that it has a large budget, at least for a Jess Franco film. With Faceless Jess Franco, he would be given the type of resources he had not had since working with Harry Alan Towers.

Throughout his career, though, Jess Franco was able to attract recognizable actors to appear in his films. The cast for Faceless is arguably the most notable cast he has ever worked with. The cast features Helmut Berger (The Damned) in the role of a plastic surgeon named Dr. Flamand; Brigitte Lahaie (The Night of the Hunted) in the role of a psychotic nurse named Nathalie; Anton Diffring (Circus of Horrors) in the role of a Nazi doctor named Moser; Stéphane Audran (The Champagne Murders) in the role of a woman in a wheelchair who blackmails Dr. Flamand; Caroline Munro (Maniac) in the role of a missing model named Barbara Hallen; Christopher Mitchum (Murder in a Blue World), a private investigator hired to find Barbara; and Jes Franco regular; Howard Vernon (The Blood Rose) in the role of Orloff’s wife).

From a production standpoint, Jess Franco takes full advantage of the resources at his disposal. Though the visuals don’t have his usual hallmarks, like an overuse of zooms, he is still able to create some arresting moments visually. The special effects, though dated by today's standards, actually hold up well. Also, the kill scenes have an ample amount of gore. A few of the kills include a needle in the eye, skin removal during the operation scenes, and a power drill in the head. The weakest link in Faceless is its 1980’s pop music score. The main theme sounds like a Wham! clone. Ultimately, Faceless is a well-made horror film that far exceeds the sum of its parts.

Faceless gets an excellent release from Severin Films that comes with a solid audio/video presentation and an abundance of insightful extras, highly recommended.

                                                        4K UHD screenshots.












4K UHD screenshots.

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