Eyes Without a Face (1960)

eyes without a face poster 1960 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Creepy looking horror film

Could have even explored the idea of identity deeper

Movie Info

Movie Name: Eyes Without a Face

Studio:  Champ-Elysees Productions

Genre(s): Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s): March 2, 1960

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

eyes without a face surgery scene

I guess I should have read the fine print before signing up for the face lift

Dr. Génessier (Pierre Brasseur) is a doctor on a mission.  In a horrible accident, his daughter Christiane (Édith Scob) was left terribly scarred and forced to live in the house masked from everyone to see.  Dr. Génessier believes that he can create a perfect skin graft that will allow Christiane to live a normal life without the stares…unfortunately he needs “volunteers” to provide the face.  With his assistant Louise (Alida Valli), they search Paris for girls that match his daughter’s description, but the police are starting to close in.

Directed by Georges Franju, Eyes Without a Face (Les Yeux sans visage) is a French horror film.  Based on the novel Les Yeux sans visage by Jean Redon, the film faced censorship issues upon its release.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #260).

The imagery from Eyes Without a Face drew me in long before I saw the movie.  The haunting image of Édith Scob in her mask was inherently creepy…it didn’t matter what the story did.  When I saw Eyes Without a Face years ago, I learned that not only was imagery creepy, but the whole story was filled with dread.

eyes without a face edith scob scar makeup

Damn…you’re dad jacked you up!!!

The film is pretty much a horror film no matter how you paint it.  It is an artsy horror film and it explores concepts that aren’t necessary horror concepts, but it is a horror film.  You have a mad scientist ripping the faces off of girls and trying to graft them onto his scarred daughter…it doesn’t get more horrific than that.  The movie however goes deeper into some concepts of identity (though under explored) with Christiane questioning if she’s still Christiane under someone else’s face.

The actors bring heart to their roles.  Pierre Brasseur feels responsible for Christiane as her father and as the one who scarred her…he knows by fixing her with the face of a dead girl that she will always be forced to keep away from him to protect herself.  His mission is a mission of mercy to fix what he messed up.  Édith Scob does emote a lot through her eyes.  Her crystalline perfect mask forces her to really power up the emotion which she does as she tries to hang onto her sanity as literally face after face rots off.  I also like Alida Valli who with few questions does whatever Dr. Génessier requires to a ridiculous point of covering up his murders for him because of his saving of her life.

eyes without a face edith scob mask ending

I’m going to take your face…off

The movie’s real catch are the visuals.  The ghost like quality of Christiane has her floating room to room but the horror of the actual face removal and the video of it “failing” are as gory and gross as something much more modern…though the Curb Your Enthusiasm music in the picture does not illicit fear today.

Eyes Without a Face is a great movie that has stood the test of time better than a lot of older horror movies because the horror is intrinsic in the events.  The movie is also bolstered by the fact that face transplants have occurred since the film’s release and Dr. Génessier’s experiments might not have been too off.  If you haven’t seen the movie, be sure to check it out (and you’ll end up humming Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face” regardless if it isn’t in the movie).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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