Sometimes you just need to go back and revisit the classics and I’m not talking about A Nightmare On Elm Street. I’m talking about movies that were made in black and white and had special effects that were well ahead of their time. Right now I’m talking about Eyes Without A Face.
The 1960’s have graced us with a bounty of great horror films, but Eyes Without A Face is undeniably one of my personal favorites. Played by Pierre Brasseur, Dr. G`enessier is a plastic surgeon desperate to repair the face of his daughter Christiane. Christiane’s face has been completely disfigured in a car accident and her father wishes desperately to fix it. With the help of his assistant Louise (Alida Valli) the two kidnap beautiful, young women and try to graft sections of their skin onto Chrisiane’s face. Simple, yes?
The film begins with Louise dumping a young woman’s body into the river and because this is 1960, she does this while wearing kitten heels. This is just one of the most lovely things about older movies. Women dressed like ladies at all times; even when dumping a body. Louise is never seen without her pearl choker because she is also one of the good Doctor’s previous patients and she is hiding her only remaining scar. Yes, Dr. G`enessier has tasted success once with facial grafting and he desperately wants to savor it again.
Poor Christiane is kept in her ivory tower where she is not to interact with the outside world because they all believe she is dead. She simply lays around all day on her fainting couch, takes some casual walks on the grounds of her vast property and makes prank phone calls to her former fiance. It’s while on one of her constitutionals that we get a glimpse into just how crazed our Doctor is. Living in the suburbs, he keeps stray dogs that he uses for experimental surgery, but no one else seems to find this very disturbing. Although, you can’t really tell how Christiane feels about all of this anyway. With her mask that looks a lot like a face, but doesn’t move I have dubbed her the original Real Housewife. Truly, the mask she wears is a lot like what overly Botoxed women look like.
Eyes Without A Face is simply a sublime film with striking visuals, a properly creepy tone and some pretty amazing special effects. The amount of special effects is few, but they make every single moment count. Despite the fact that all of the characters in this movie are out to do very bad things, the actors still manage to make you feel sympathy for them and you, strangely, want the doctor to succeed. With some genuinely clever plot devices well before the time of Law and Order and an overall intriguing premise, Eyes Without A Face is a timeless horror classic.