Tuesday’s Overlooked: Eyes Without a Face (Les yeux sans visage)

Up until recently the only thing I knew about this title (Eyes Without a Face/Les yeux sans visage, in France) was that it was a Billy Idol song:

 

Then I was watching TCM and saw guest programmer Anthony Bourdain talking about the film and thought – what the heck, a French horror film, co-starring Alida Valli. Can’t be too bad. I had no idea of what was in store …

SYNOPSIS (from the Criterion Collection):

Secluded in the French countryside, a brilliant, obsessive doctor attempts a radical plastic surgery to restore the beauty of his daughter’s disfigured face—but at a horrifying price. At once ghastly and lyrical, Eyes Without a Face is a true rarity of horror cinema and has influenced countless films.

That about sums it up. Check out this (rather long) trailer to get a better sense of where the film is going:

This film (directed by Georges Franju) is “horrific” in the truest spirit of the word. Not like the modern-day slash and thrash that we often associate with the genre, this film is disturbing and even oddly romantic in places.
In addition, it is beautifully shot in an “Expressionist-lite” black and white, with many scenes evoking sharp, contrasting shadows and light.

Originally released in France in 1959, the film originally hit our shores in 1962, was dubbed and given a new title: The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus; in addition, it was double-billed with The Manster, a Japanese horror film.

Currently, Eyes Without a Face is available on DVD for your enjoyment :)

Comments

  1. Wow. I’m not sure I was aware of it being doubled with THE MANSTER (a not-terrible…but close…two-headed human monster film). But the way things are going, THE MANSTER will also get its own Criterion download eventually. Meanwhile, I’m glad you caught up with EYES…which I rather suspect had some influence on the likes of THE SKIN I LIVE IN, among so much else between then and now.
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    • Yeah the Manster does not sound like a film that would win any awards … in the TCM commentary Bourdain mentioned that this film was often mistakenly double billed with far inferior fare.

  2. Patti Abbott says:

    I am firmly convinced that this film would scare me as much today as it did a few years ago when I first saw it. And THE SKIN I LIVE IN did too.

  3. Amazing movie really, even if not a favourite – and it does have an odd, fairy tale atmospehere even if the surgical scenes are remarkably blunt (but then Franju’s dosumentary about abbatoirs is still shocking).Well worth a lok, even today – good choice as always!
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  4. I really love this movie, it’s very spooky and beautiful. I found it while waiting for “The Skin I live in” which is a little bit similiar, though not as excellent as this one.
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  5. Oooh this one does look quite eerie.
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  6. Oh gosh, sounds a bit too TOO for me. I’d never even heard of it before.
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