Classic of the Week: Eyes Without a Face (1960)


Eyes Without a Face French: Les Yeux sans visage, is a 1960 French horror film adaptation of Jean Redon’s novel, directed by Georges Franju and stars Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli and Edith Scob. The story follows a plastic surgeon who is determined to perform a face transplant on his daughter, who became disfigured after a car accident. The film has caused controversy, disgust and praise for its dark and disturbing, yet creative in its poetic nature.

This film is filled with disturbing scenes and just the pictures from the film are enough to either disgust and disturb or intrigue or just turn someone away altogether. Being a huge fan of these types of films (Bergman, Hitchcock, Carpenter) and seeing clips from an online countdown video, I knew I had to watch it. Did it disturb me? of course it did, but that didn’t stop me from watching it to the end. It is very unsettling and frightening from beginning to end, but very well done in every aspect from Cinematography, to scenery, to acting. Although this film is rather short at one hour and thirty minutes, it feels much longer.

This film has become a true cult classic and an inspiration for both John Carpenter’s Michael Myers mask and the Billy Idol song of the same name. This is also a love or hate film, which I believe is what Franju was going for. The music adds to the darkness and horror of the story and overall film, especially the theme song, that is equally catchy and spine-tingling.

Seeing the main character Christiane Génessier, Doctor Génessier’s daughter, with and without her mask are enough to make anyone scream, like a great horror film does. But it is done so differently, because most thrillers don’t show the main character without their mask, making this one unique. I wouldn’t call this a true gem of a film, but maybe a rough or dirty one, because it’s not perfect, but it is scary and deeply disturbing.

I have never seen anything like this before and I have to praise everyone who worked on this piece, making it a masterpiece in horror film history. I cannot image this film in color, because I believe it would completely destroy the thrill factor, just like if Psycho had been in color. The majority of this takes place at Doctor Génessier’s house and laboratory and it doesn’t need to be anywhere else, because that would take away from the scariness. This isn’t your typical thriller, it is something much more, a tour de force in cinematic history, something that is bold, that leaves a lasting impression in the mind.

Now this is not a film that most people and myself can watch over and over again, which isn’t a bad thing. It is one, that if you’re looking for a good fright, then it’s a perfect pick. With the thrill of a horror movie and the cinematography and feel of both a HM and art film, it truly stands out among the rest. Hands down, one of the best thrillers I’ve ever seen. You can choose to love it or hate it, but it will always have its fans. A truly spectacular work of art. 18+ 4.5/5


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