Director John Carpenter says he was influenced by this film. The rubber mask of William Shatner which his character Michael Myers wears in Halloween (1978) has a similar placid quality which accentuates horror because we are programmed to respond to facial features. When we see a mask, we want to know what is behind it. For that matter, Eyes Without a Face seems inspired in some measure by the Lon Chaney version of The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and perhaps Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) .
The daughter, Christiane (Scob), ethereal and doll-like, stays hidden at the doctor's house because almost everyone else thinks she died in the accident. The only other person who knows is the lab assistant Louise (Valli), whom the doctor successfully helped with a mysterious surgery sometime earlier.
Part of what makes Eyes Without a Face (and yes, Billy Idol liked the title enough to use it for a song) so interesting is the pleasant, matter-of-fact manner by which Louise goes about assisting Dr. Genessier (Brasseur). Sure, she seems like a nice lady who drives around with the quirky theme music from "Curb Your Enthusiasm" playing all the time. But appearances deceive.
Like Haxan (1922) and Freaks (1932), Eyes is considered by some viewers excessively disturbing for its time--and perhaps for any time. Two scenes in particular stand out uniquely in film. Suffice to say, a well-done film does not need computer special effects.
Eyes exemplifies sheer filmmaking, pure storytelling. Based on the filmmaking trend of the last couple decades, wherein most of Hollywood's feature films rely on CG effects and automatic sequels in franchises imitating previous successes, Eyes Without a Face is a fresh face in cinema, and a wonder to behold.
Freely available online.
EYES WITHOUT A FACE
(LES YEUX SANS VISAGE)
Starring Pierre Brasseur,
Directed by Georges Franju
Written by Pierre Boileau, Thomas Nacejac,
Claude Sautet, Pierre Gascar
Based on the novel by Jean Redon
Runtime 90 minutes
Stewart Kirby writes for