Directed by: Georges Franju / 1959
Considered a classic in the “Cinema Fantastic” genre, Georges Franju’s “Eyes Without A Face” is a mysterious film on the mad reality of obsession and science grafting with a killer’s touch. Doctor Génessier not only experiments on a wide collection of stray dogs and birds but also on beautiful young women, stealing their faces and dumping the bodies for clueless police to decipher. Fault to his own, his daughter Christiane’s face was severely burned and gnarled in a traffic accident, leaving only her eyes in mint condition (odd I think, but roll with it), peering forever from behind an eerie and expressionless mask. With help from assistant Louise, Dr. Génessier abducts and dissects a string of young women as he obsesses with grafting a face back on his disfigured daughter. You know, like any loving and caring father would do? The crime/thriller writing tag team of Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac scripted this bizarre meaty madhouse, adapted from Jean Redon’s novel and well put to film-fright by Franju. The writing genius of Boilau and Narcejac has collaborated before in film with original pants-wetting thrillers like Henri-Georges Clouzot’s “Les Diaboliques” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”. A brief segment on their writing partnership accompanies the Criterion release of “Eyes Without A Face” and I recommend diving into a piece of writing and cinema history with it. More extras include director Georges Franju explaining his love for finding the horror through real life and there is a feature on what I feel is true “Cinema Fantastic” called “Blood of the Beasts”. This is a beautifully photographed and extremely graphic historical documentary on the grand slaughterhouses of Paris. Though, not one for the squeamish as it displays full-throttle the “Abattoir Blues” of horses, cattle and sheep while swingers of axes and knives whistle while they work, I actually found “Blood of the Beasts” more fascinating than the feature film. Though it isn’t perfect, “Eyes Without A Face” is still unique and mysterious, a mad classic must-see for the blue prints to modern horror. Though, perhaps it is best that parts of it aren’t perfect and left mysterious as the parts that involve the taking of actual parts are truly mesmerizing pieces of cinema that seem as though they helped shake the celluloid for those wishing to stake a claim in “Cinema Fantastic”. If only the bulk of modern day “Horror Porn” directors and fanatics would actually use such blue prints to improve on their own bloody red ones, they’d actually make fantastic cinema like their ancestors.