Eyes Without a FaceDirector: Georges Franju, Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli, Edith Scob
French director Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face (Les Yeux Sans Visage) is an unsettling, sometimes poetic horror film. Pierre Brasseur plays a brilliant plastic surgeon, Prof. Genessier, who has vowed to restore the face of his daughter, Christiane (Edith Scob), who was mutilated in an automobile accident. With the help of his assistant (Alida Valli), he kidnaps young women, surgically removes their facial features, and attempts to graft their beauty onto his daughter's hideous countenance. This naturally has an adverse effect on the "donors," some of whom commit suicide rather than go through life faceless. Franju's haunting, muted handling of basic horror material is what lifts Eyes Without a Face out of the ordinary and into the realm of near-classic. When the film failed to draw crowds under its original title, however, the distributors decided to exploit it as a two-bit "scare" flick with the new title The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus.
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- [B&W, Full Frame]
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Cast & Crew
|Pierre Brasseur||Prof. Genessier|
|Edith Scob||Christiane Genessier|
|Francois Guerin||Jacques Vernon|
|Juliette Mayniel||Edna Gruber|
|Alexandre Rignault||Insp. Parot|
|Michel Etcheverry||Forensic surgeon|
|René Génin||Emile Tessot|
|Antoine Archimbaud||Sound/Sound Designer|
|Auguste Capelier||Production Designer|
|Maurice Jarre||Score Composer|
|Claude Sautet||Asst. Director,Screenwriter|
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Genuinely haunting slice of classic French cinema,that manages to be both poetic,tender,brutal and unflinching in it's honesty. The sad and sordid tale of a great surgeon's need to repair his daughter's face,damaged by his own carelessness,at any cost,even through disfigurement of others and loss of life,the movie benefits from shadowy,brilliant black and white cinematography and understated performances. It has,of course,provided lesser film-makers with the template to attack it's storyline with less fulfilling results (the nasty and meretricious Peter Cushing vehicle CORRUPTION from 1967,for one),but no-one has come near Franju's sense of documentary realism coupled with near surrealistic beauty. Edith Scob's willowy performance,emoting via body language and great use of emotion in the eyes from behind the blank mask,is truly astonishing,and there is great support from Pierre Brasseur as her obsessive father and genre fave Alida Valli as his assistant/confidant. Also on the dvd is Franju's near unwatchable short,Les Sang Des Betes,which could make vegetarians instantly of anyone who watches it!! Sometimes it's sobering to remind oneself of how exactly the meat on our plate ends up there! Powerful,emotive yet detached and very much in the style of the classic feature film on this disc. An essential buy.
This is one of the dullest horror movies I've ever seen--almost as dull as "Carnival of Souls." It was only with great effort on my part that I could keep my eyes open throughout it. Each scene seems prolonged unnecessarily to the point of tedium.
The story, about a doctor trying to save his wife's ruined face with skin grafts that he surgically removes from beautiful women that he imprisons, is predictable and offers no surprises.
Jess Franco did virtually the same story with more scares in it in "The Awful Dr. Orloff." Granted "Orloff," not a great movie by any means, came out a year after "Eyes without a Face," but even if it is a rip-off, it has more creepy action to it than the listless "Eyes."
"Eyes" is structurally sound (save for the annoyingly long, ennui-inducing scenes) and the plot is well constructed, and for these reasons I'll give it three stars, but if you're looking for chills or suspense, this isn't the movie for you. It didn't find its way to my subconscious, like an effective horror movie should.
I don't want to give away the ending, but the liberated dogs provide the most excitement in the final scenes of "Eyes without a Face."
--Bryan Cassiday, author of "Fete of Death"