Into The Darkness, With The Dogs and Doves.

Part 2 in our good horror film round up: Les Yeux sans visage, aka Eyes Without A face. Made in 1960 by George Franju, a dude who hadn't made much before and neither after. I watched this near the end of my obsession with horror movies made between 1956-73. The joy was going. Appreciating some lame AIP drive-in ballyhoo for its bluntness or naive charm morphed into just plain boredome mixed with occasional frustration. I actually felt like I was getting dumber the more I watched night after night. You forget what goodd art is. I swear this is true. I felt the same way after only reading sci-fi for about a year because I felt like sci-fi MUST be a great genre full of time travel, post apocalypse, aliens, and cloned chicks. I obviously was missing out. I dug in searching...and kept searching....and kept searching.... Then I read Madame bovary, and was like: OH YEAH. DUH.

So anyway, I pick up Eyes Without A Face and figure it will probably have something arty-bad thing going for it if Criterion is releasing it (they're pretty conservative with their horror choices) and it will probably be dumb in a lot of parts, but hey, a disfigured chick must show up somewhere so it cant be that bad.....
Instead I am shocked to discover it's actually perfect from start to finish. Nothing like this exists anywhere. No one-dimensional villians or schmucky yacht club, varsity team boyfriend out to make things right, or clever military gay-lick; this thingis the real deal.
A doctor accidentally destroys the face of his daughter while driving drunk. Ridden by guilt and a belief he can "fix" her, he finds girls of similiar features and transplants their flesh onto his daughter. And it never works. In the meantime, the daughter, now wearing a mask, is holed up in her room, alone, wanting, above all else, to speak with her boyfriend who thinks she's dead (the creepiest and most heartfelt moment in the film is when she cant help herself and calls him, whispering his name like a ghost you want to be haunted by but are scared of anyway).

She is just like any teenage girl-pouty, indignant, self absorbed and charming. But her fathers actions inherently implicate her in these abductions/murders. The father, though totally nuts, clearly loves his daughter and tries to turn the more logical and professional eye toward the abducted girls. This is a sad movie, both because of the poor victims, young sprightly girls, but because of the father's refusal to see his daughter as anything more than an extension of his past mistakes. And the scary part, the the thing that makes it a Horror Movie is that the actions and motivations of the characters feel like the genuine movements of those stuck in grief, incapable of anything but to go deeper and deeper into darkness.

posted by sammy at 7:34 AM

Blogger Felt Club said...

Awesome movie. Johnny and I have had a copy of this on VHS forever, I'm glad it is now available on DVD.

I'm also glad to have just found your website! Everything looks fantastic. Congrats to you all!!

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8:07 PM  

Blogger sammy said...

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10:44 PM  

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