Saturday, October 29, 2011

Eyes Without a Face

A wealthy, amoral surgeon and his loyal assistant begin abducting young women, with plans to use them as donors for his disfigured daughter's face transplant.

I had sort of wanted to try to make Eyes Without a Face my last movie of October, since I started the month with Jesus Franco's crappy ripoff Faceless. But I have tentative plans on the 31st, and I was worried I'd accidentally blow it and not fit this one in in time.

Of course, if you haven't seen this one, it's a real classic. It's a creepy but classy affair, icky and surprisingly violent for its time, but with a strange elegance and beauty to it. The doctor's daughter, Christiane, is one of the real accomplishments in horror cinema. She has a horribly disfigured face (which we never see, except in one purposefully out of focus shot) and is made to wear an unnerving, white, expressionless mask. By all appearances, Christiane is the film's monster, but she's a complex, conflicted character, and the one the audience ends up most empathizing with.

I had not seen this in several years, and the thing I forgot about it that is really cool is that the first 20 minutes or so play as kind of a mystery. The film opens with the doctor's assistant dumping a corpse in a river, so we know something terrible is going on, but for a while we are lead to believe that the corpse is that of Christiane, and the doctor's actual involvement in what is going on is unclear.

This leads to a great scene that plays very differently the second time you see the film, where the doctor runs in to the father of the young woman he has murdered. The doctor has falsely identified her body as Christiane's, and when the man tries to open to the doctor about his concern for his missing daughter, the doctor chastises him, saying something like "It's funny I should have to console you, when you still have some hope left." That shit is chilling on so many levels.

Grade: B+

No comments: