“My face frightens me; my mask frightens me even more.”
A renowned surgeon (Pierre Brasseur) hoping to graft a new face onto his injured daughter Christiane (Edith Scob) enlists the help of his loyal assistant (Alida Valli) in kidnapping unsuspecting young women with similar features.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Alida Valli Films
- Disfigured Faces
- Father and Child
- French Films
- Georges Franju Films
- Mad Doctors and Scientists
- Plastic Surgery
Georges Franju’s Les Yeux Sans Visage remains one of the most haunting and memorable horror films ever made. As in Val Lewton’s early RKO films, Franju relies on atmosphere rather than gore and violence to tell the creepy tale of a young woman trapped in a web of paternal love. Scob is effectively ethereal in the title role; the imagery of Christiane moving through the halls of her prison-like house are guaranteed to hold fast in your memory — as is the infamous surgery scene, when Brasseur methodically slices off a girl’s face. Surprisingly enough, the film contains some levity as well, thanks both to Maurice Jarre’s carnival-like score, and a critical subplot about a naive shoplifter (Beatrice Altariba) who becomes an important catalyst in solving the mystery of the disappearing girls. The final scenes of this must-see horror film are both satisfying and devastating.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Edith Scob as Christiane
- Alida Valli as Dr. Genessier’s loyal assistant
- Stunning b&w cinematography by Eugen Schufftan
- Dr. Genessier surgically removing a girl’s face
- The final powerful sequences
- Maurice Jarre’s haunting, carnivalesque score
Definitely. This horror classic — which merits repeat viewings — will remain in your mind long after you’ve watched it.
- Foreign Gem
- Genuine Classic
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)