Eyes Without A Face

"Excellent"

Eyes Without A Face Review


Now that Jason, Freddy, and Chucky have taken over horror movies, audiences barely remember when this enduring, accomplished genre gave us more than effects-laden, ax-swinging bloodbaths geared to sell product in department stores.

Horror movies, once, were for adults as well as teenagers. Directors used black and white, evocative lighting, minimal make-up, and great acting to create rich, personally expressive images that frightened audiences. Now the Criterion Collection gives us another chance to see these kinds of movies, releasing a new print of the 1959 French classic Eyes Without a Face on DVD.

Director Georges Franju puts your heart in your throat right from the start - hounds howling through the night; the evil eyes of a masked surgeon coming at you with a scalpel; dead young girls dumped in rivers and dug-out crypts at midnight - and the sinister tension never breaks. The story is about an esteemed plastic surgeon, Professeur Genessier (Pierre Brasseur), who has his nurse, secretary, and lover Louise (Alida Valli, well-known for her role in The Third Man) abduct young women off the Parisian streets and take them back to his dungeon-like basement where he grafts the skin off their faces. He's attempting to restore his daughter's mutilated face, a life-destroying disfigurement that he caused in a car accident. The scenes of seduction, abduction, and burying bodies are cold and calculating. Franju reveals just enough stimulate our imaginations and still show enough to curl our spines - as in the skin graft operation at the center of the movie where he lays bare the Professeur's cruel, egomaniacal eyes as a face is lifted off a fresh victim.

The daughter, Christiane (Edith Scob), has nothing to do but wait between operations, wearing a molded mask with holes for her eyes. Walking through the Professeur's eerie, gothic home, nightgown flowing as she rushes about, head turning, her eyes become charged behind the passive plastic. This alluring, haunting sequence, showing the fear and dread in Christiane's eyes, yet her wish to be whole again, calls back a similar scene in Beauty and the Beast.

Eyes Without A Face is a uniquely lyrical and affecting horror movie in the manner of that Cocteau masterpiece. Franju creates a palpable sense of fear with lurking shadows, noises in the woods, and screams and howling dogs echoing from the dungeon instead of using open, graphic brutality. Like Jacques Tourneur, the director of so many understated horror classics in the '40s and '50s (Cat People, I Walked With a Zombie, Curse of the Demon) he knows that restrained, yet deliberate, less-is-more technique is what really scares people.

This Criterion DVD has a beautiful print and, unlike the video, has clear, readable subtitles. It also includes Franju's first film made in 1949, Blood of the Beasts, a documentary short about the brutal methods Paris slaughterhouses used to butcher meat.

Aka Les Yeux sans Visage.



Eyes Without A Face

Facts and Figures

Run time: 88 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 24th October 1962

Distributed by: Criterion Collection

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Fresh: 49 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Doctor Génessier, as Louise, as Christiane Génessier, as Jacques Vernon, Juliette Mayniel as Edna Gruber, Alexandre Rignault as Inspector Parot, Béatrice Altariba as Paulette Mérodon, Charles Blavette as l'homme de la fourrière, as un inspecteur, Michel Etcheverry as le docteur Lherminier


Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Movie Review

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Movie Review

Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie brings a dark and gritty tone to this larger-than-life franchise. Along with...

Beyond the Reach Movie Review

Beyond the Reach Movie Review

With a spectacular setting and two solid actors on-screen, this thriller builds enough solid suspense...

Cub Movie Review

Cub Movie Review

At a time when horror movies seem to only want to make the audience jump,...

Inside Out Movie Review

Inside Out Movie Review

Those bright sparks at Pixar have done it again, taking a fiercely original approach to...

Advertisement
Southpaw Movie Review

Southpaw Movie Review

Slick direction and meaty performances may be enough for some viewers, but this boxing drama's...

Eden Movie Review

Eden Movie Review

Loose and impressionistic, this beautifully shot film traces the career of a DJ who pioneered...

The Gallows Movie Review

The Gallows Movie Review

Without a single moment of originality, this found-footage horror movie really deserves to be the...

Self/Less Movie Review

Self/Less Movie Review

An intriguing premise keeps the audience gripped for about 20 minutes before the movie runs...

Advertisement