"Eyes Without a Face." otherwise known as "The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus," is without doubt one of
the creepiest films ever made. Don't watch it alone. And don't watch it before bedtime if you've been having trouble sleeping.
Thinking about it might very well keep you tossing and turning all night long.
But do watch the video. It's a truly exceptional movie, of its genre or any other. It's a French film made in the Grand
Guignol tradition by the great filmmaker Georges Franjus from a script by the same two authors who wrote two other masterpieces
of their kind, the French "Diabolique" and Hitchcock's "Vertigo."
The cast is as special as the scriptwriters. It's headed by Pierre Brasseur, who played a major role in probably the greatest
of all European films, "Children of Paradise," and the great Italian actress Alida Valli. The film, made in 1959,
is appropriately in black and white, with an appropriately eerie score as background.
Critic Pauline Kael said it best, describing the film as "a classic of horror ...austere and elegant," projecting
"a vague, floating, almost lyric sense of horror." It is, as Kael said, more than a horror film, but also a "terrible
parody" of the scientific method generally and plastic surgery specifically.
I won't give away the plot, but I can tell you that -- yuck -- the film is about a doctor, Brasseur, whose mistress, Valli,
abducts pretty young women for him to operate on. He peels off their faces to graft onto the face of his daughter, who was
mutilated in an auto accident caused by his careless driving. She wears a full-face mask throughout the film - as spooky a
movie sight as you're ever likely to see.
Do see it. But be prepared for scenes you might want to turn away from. It is indeed a horror film, the real thing.
Copyright (c) Dick Meister