Eyes Without a Face (1960)

Article #1384 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-27-2004
Posting Date: 5-26-2005
Directed by Georges Franju
Featuring Pierre Brasseur, Edith Scob, Alida Valli

A scientist is murdering young women in order to restore the beauty of his daughter whose face was mangled in an automobile accident.

Most of the French cinema that I’ve covered for this series has been in the realm of fantasy; French horror and science fiction films are a bit of a rarity. However, this one is a real treat. I usually find French cinema to be somewhat tricky and deceptive; when they take on a genre, they usually transform it into something else. Therefore, one of the biggest surprises I had with this one is that it is exactly what it pretends to be; it’s first and foremost a horror film. In fact, it dredges up one of the most common horror scenarios; that of the scientist who commits murders in order to help a loved one. In short, it has the same basic premise of THE APE or THE CORPSE VANISHES. However, it’s an exquisitely directed and breathtakingly beautiful horror film; Georges Franju has a strong visual sense and he uses it here to good effect. Not only that, but the beautiful visuals never seem forced or artificial. The movie even has a gross-out scene (where the surgically remove a woman’s face) that manages to be somewhat beautiful as well as repulsive. I also love the use of music and sound; the constant sound of barking dogs sticks in the mind. All in all, a very satisfying horror film, and highly recommended.

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