Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Eyes Without a Face (1960) Film Review

Plot Summary - French language horror film about a young woman, Christiane, who has "no face", after being disfigured in a car accident caused by her father, a professor/doctor, who will go to any lengths to see that her face is restored - even if illegal, evil, and totally gruesome. The professor and his secretary/assistant "nurse" (Valli) lure young, blue-eyed, pretty women who resemble the daughter to their villa in the French countryside outside Paris - and - um, chloroform the girls, then remove their face while still alive to graft onto Christiane's face - ugh (the Doc is seen at the beginning of the film giving a lecture on transplanting living tissue from one human to another). Dad has actually gone to the morgue and identified one of these young women, found in a river dead and without a face, as his "missing" daughter. The still living Christiane meanwhile, hides out in the villa, wears a white mask that looks like her to cover the disfigurement - only her eyes show through - and awaits dad's next surgical attempt, as each one so far has been a failure.

Review - Well, this film is pretty creepy - it would be a good one to watch on Halloween. It is quite atmospheric and surreal, with it's foggy, cold days, people in coats, their breath showing in the air, barren trees, wet streets, and waif-like masked Christiane roaming the villa like a gliding ghost figure, her eyes as big as saucers. The doctor's operation room where he performs his work looks like a mad scientist's laboratory, dogs bark loudly in the background as he keeps them in cages in a room connected to the lab and uses the poor animals to test his grafting procedures (ssssss - creep). One thing I wonder about: Christiane seems like a nice girl, why does she allow the dad to do something like this for so long, simply for her sake?! Really nice music score by Maurice Jarre enhances the film, by the way. The Criterion Collection DVD of this looks very good, the subtitles easy to read. Quite a good film, with memorable, haunting black and white imagery. Rating - 9/10 stars

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