Eyes Without A Face (1959)

The last film of the 50s in my 101 Horror Movies. This little film comes from France, and perhaps I just can’t get myself into the mind set of the French of that period, I’m not sure, but this wasn’t one of the most engaging horror films I’ve seen on the list. It’s by no means terrible, but it just didn’t seem able to hold my attention for it’s full running time.

The tale follows the exploits of Dr. Genessier (Pierre Brasseur), who is a little mad in his pursuits.

He is studying the idea of grafting, not only skin, but organs, anything (though the movie doesn’t dwell on a lot of that). He conducts his preliminary experiments on stray dogs, who are kept in cages in the catacombs of his manor.

His study and experimentation are all to restore the face of his daughter, who was horribly disfigured in a car accident that he was responsible for, the eyes without a face of the title.

He uses his own hospital and patients as his hunting ground, which makes it kind of troubling that it took the police so quick to catch on, but it’s just a movie…

He abducts the women, sedates them, and then, in a fairly graphic presentation for the time, removes their faces to graft them to his daughter’s. Amazingly enough, none of the victims ever survive the process, and he’s forced to dispose of the bodies. And poetically, the graft never seems to take, dooming his daughter to hide her face behind an emotionless plaster mask, which is itself disturbing.

Eventually the daughter’s fiancee who is not convinced she’s dead, despite the pretense of the funeral that Genessier conducts, turns to the police, and they send one last victim to the mad doctor.

There are some disturbing images in the film, none more so than that plaster mask, as it seems to blend perfectly with the skin tone of the actress. Of course it is a black and white film, so there’s not much color for it to blend to. Despite that it really is creepy.

There is also some bloodiness to be seen, when one of the victims sees the remains of the daughter’s face looking down at her, yes, it’s out of focus, but the moment works. As does the removal of one of the victims’ face, there’s just a hint of the bloody mess beneath it.

Finally of course, the last bloodiness that is hinted at is the doctor’s grisly remains after he has met his fate.

Like I said, it wasn’t a terrible film, but it just didn’t hold my attention like I wish it had.

Course it may just be that I’m looking forward to revisiting some of the films that are coming up in the very near future… It’s almost time to revisit some classic Hitchcock!!

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