Monday, October 21, 2013

Scary Movie Month, Day 21

Eyes Without A Face

By far the prettiest movie I've watched this month, but let's not pretend that there's not also some startlingly gruesome imagery here, particularly for the time (that being 1960, by the way). This French production concerns a doctor who is developing a face-transplant surgery in order to help his daughter who has been horribly disfigured in a car accident. When I say developing, of course I mean abducting women and surgically removing their faces.

The black and white photography is gorgeous (and I gotta say, the transfer on the new Criterion blu-ray is stunningly crystal clear). The movie is deliberately paced (read: a tad slow) but the images border on hypnotic. It reminded me of one of my favorites, Carnival of Souls, and anything that brings that to mind has got to be high quality.

Souls came out in 1962, the same year that Eyes was released in the US (under the misleadingly awful title The Horror Chamber of Doctor Faustus) so I'm relatively certain Eyes couldn't have influenced Herk Harvey's masterwork but it feels like they're of a piece with each other. Perhaps it's just the influence of the era but they both have an ethereal dream-like quality that makes them stand out among the other movies of the time. Or perhaps it's simply my desire to use the name "Herk" as often as possible. Either way, Eyes Without A Face is absolutely worth seeking out. It's disturbing, hypnotic, and filled with imagery you won't soon forget. I have a feeling I'll be seeing some of those images in my nightmares later tonight, in fact.

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