Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Eyes Without a Face (1960)

Director: Georges Franju

Writers: Jean Redon, Pierre Boileau, Thomas Narcejac, Jean Redon, Claude Sautet, Pierre Gascar

Composer: Maurice Jarre

Starring: Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli, Juliette Mayniel, Edith Scob, Francois Guerin, Alexandre Rignault, Beatrice Altariba, Charles Blavette

More info: IMDb

Plot: A brilliant surgeon, Dr. GĂ©nessier, helped by his assistant Louise, kidnaps nice young women. He removes their faces and tries to graft them onto the head on his beloved daughter Christiane, whose face has been entirely spoiled in a car crash. All the experiments fail, and the victims die, but GĂ©nessier keeps trying.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

In 1960 we had PSYCHO and the French had this.

It's a great, leisurely paced horror/thriller that brings together an interesting story of love and murder with fine performances and loads of atmosphere.  EYES is very stylish but not so much that it overtakes anything else.  It's just the right amount it seems.  Everything from the dialogue to the set design and camera movements feel like it's just the right amount. It's a pretty lean picture.  The mask Christiane wears is eerie and compassionate all at the same time.  Even though it's 1960, they managed to insert some gross-out effects that I'm sure shocked audiences more than 50 years ago.

It's still pretty damn effective today.  You could draw a HOSTEL (2005) parallel I suppose.  Maurice Jarre's often quirky score doesn't bother me like a lot of his music.  He's done some great work but he often annoys the piss out of me with his style but not here.  The ending is shocking for its time but if there's one thing that bothers me about the picture it's how the police bait the doctor in an effort to trap him.  It's that they don't provide any backup.  They just let her go into the lion's den without any support if things should turn ugly for her.  If you lose that bit of nonsense then you're still left with a fantastic French horror picture that continues to hold its own.

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