Les yeux sans visage [Eyes Without a Face] (1960)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Les yeux sans visage</strong> [<strong class="MovieTitle">Eyes Without a Face</strong>] (1960)

(Kanopy Streaming, October 2018) Who would expect a black-and-while French horror movie of 1960 to remain effective nearly sixty years later? Well, do have a look at Les yeux sans visages, an effective body horror film that will leave you squeamish. Here, a surgeon with a disfigured daughter takes extreme steps in order to procure and then transplant a new face on her. The standout sequence of the film remains the face surgery, executed with a disconcerting explicitness and an even more disconcerting absence of cuts in the process. But gore aside, what really elevates this film is a more respectable tone, closer to poetic drama than to exploitation: despite the sometimes grisly subject matter, the direction is handled tastefully … except when it goes for the viewer’s throat in order to make them watch the worst part of it. Édith Scob proves to be an eerie presence in the film, her face usually covered by a mask except for the worst of it. Playing on uncanny-valley curiosity and disgust, Les yeux sans visage runs a bit long even at 90 minutes but still packs a few chills along the way.

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