Eyes Without a Face (1959)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Gothic Film  |   Run Time - 88 min.  |   Countries - France , Italy   |   MPAA Rating - NR
  • AllMovie Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

Share on

Review by

Often cited as one of the most poetic horror films ever committed to celluloid, French director Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face has a lingering effect that conjures more melancholy malaise than outright fright. Franju opts for a deliberate pacing that perfectly compliments the somber tone of his dark tale, and cinematographer Eugen Sch├╝fftan's moody nighttime photography provides the ideal visual representation of the inner turmoil experienced by both the father who longs to make up for past indiscretions (regardless of the pain he inflicts to achieve his goal) and the daughter whose horrendous appearance serves as a constant reminder of the mistake that will haunt him to the grave. As the nearby howls of caged hounds haunt the quiet halls of the doctor's vast estate, viewers are constantly reminded of the horrors set to be unleashed at a moment's notice. Considering that such an artful "horror" film with so many expressionistic embellishments was released by its original stateside distributor, United Artists, under the lurid banner The Horror Chamber of Doctor Faustus, audiences expecting a blood-soaked fright-fest were no doubt disappointed. Though the film does offer a few shots that remain fairly shocking even decades after the film's 1960 release, the true horror lies in the madness of regret and the torture of remaining dead to those one holds dearest, despite living on to experience their shattering despair. In addition to soulful performances by leads Pierre Brasseur and Edith Scob, Italian screen veteran Alida Valli provides a memorably sinister turn as Prof. Genessier's (Brasseur) devoted and unquestioning assistant. Re-released to stateside theaters in mid-2003, Franju's downbeat frightener reached a whole new generation, who embraced the director's seductively dark vision.