Eyes Without a Face is a 1960 French-Italian horror film directed by Georges Franju and stars Pierre Brasseur and Alida Valli, based on the novel of the same name by Jean Redon. Brasseur’s character is a plastic surgeon that is determined to do plastic surgery on his daughter, who became disfigured in a vehicle accident. This film was shot in black and white. Although it passed through European censors, the film’s release in Europe still caused controversy. Critics praised or were disgusted by the film. Nevertheless, the film is just as moving and haunting today as it was then. It is disturbing, yet powerful throughout.

Dr. Génessier recovers a body from a river just outside Paris, after it had been thrown in after a vehicle accident. He identifies that it is his missing daughter Christiane, whose face was disfigured from the crash that happened before she disappeared, for which he was responsible. Dr. Génessier lives in a large mansion, which is next to clinic, whit numerous caged large dogs. He tries to ‘fix” Christiane’s face, but is unsuccessful and forces her to wear a mask and remain hidden away from patients and other people, not only because of her face, but also because she is believed to be dead, since a funeral was held for her before she was found in the river.

Dr. Génessier’s surgical methods are unorthodox, intense and often abusive. One patient wakes up with needles in her face and her skin messed up. Christiane eventually sneaks out her room to try and see what is really going on and she is appalled. She ends up a patient’s life by helping them escape and she releases all the caged dogs. Before running away again for good.

This film haunting, scary and disturbing. It is not one that should be watched alone at night with all the lights off. You won’t want to go to sleep after watching this, unless it’s with one eye open. This film is one of a kind thriller, a truly magnificent film in every way. From the story, to the scenery, to acting, to the music, it is all spectacular. This is a movie that one most likely won’t want to watch over and over again. But even just seeing it once or twice in your entire life, you will never forget it, it will be like you just watched it yesterday. It is that powerful of a piece, masterpiece, that is. Yes, it is very disturbing, and might make you feel a sick, if you can’t stomach such films. But those that can, will probably enjoy it a lot.

Not many horror films today can touch the quality, the magic of this one. They are so much of the same type of stories or they’re a terrible remake. For true horror fanatics, we need more like this one, something that is unique and has just the right amount of fright and disturbance. Enough with killer clowns, people being held hostage, bodies being torn apart and remakes, we need directors that are willing to create a thriller like this one. This one will probably stick with you for life after watching it, but that doesn’t make it any less great. One of the most astonishing and disturbing movies i have ever seen, but it one the most uniquely amazing ones too. 18 and up 4.5/5

4 thoughts on “Classic of the Week: Eyes Without a Face (1960)

  1. This movie creeps me out and is a hard watch. The dogs and that kennel, the barking. I have to FF that part.

    1. The film that inspired the Billy Idol song. Creepy as heck! When that woman wakes up with the needles in her face and head, that still scares me and I’ve only seen it once all the way through.

  2. Yes. The needles! EWaF is a fine example that you can be creepy and scary without violence or blood and use lightning and suggestion to illicit an audience response. That’s lost in this post-James Wan and Eli Roth landscape we watch in. The sign of this film’s success: if it had been a silent film, say like Nosferatu, it would still work it’s magic.

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