Eyes Without a Face (1960)

Georges Franju’s moody horror classic Eyes Without a Face — or Les yeux sans visage, if you want to be pretentious about it — follows the trials and travails of noted surgeon Dr. Génessier (Pierre Brasseur) as he struggles to find a face for his daughter, Christiane (Edith Scob), who lost hers in a gruesome car crash.

To that end, Dr. G sends out his loyal secretary, Louise (Alida Valli), to befriend lovely young women and bring them back to his spooky estate, where they’ll knocked out and tied to the surgical table, drugged and become not-so-lovely. In a scene once censored, we see in gory detail just how unkind his cuts are.

The French film is spooky, thanks mostly to Christiane’s mask, a blank stare that no doubt influenced Michael Myers’ emotionless cover. Franju aims for a marathon, not a sprint, with deliberate pacing that gets you involved with the characters. In other words, this is an intelligent film that just happens to appeal to base senses, with evocative photography and a memorable score, which sounds like the theme from Curb Your Enthusiasm on Percocet.

It’s to the film’s credit that you’ll not think of the Billy Idol song of the same name throughout. —Rod Lott

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