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Eyes Without A Face (Les Yeux Sans Visage) (1959) Review

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A surgeon whose daughter was disfigured in a car crash kidnaps young girls and attempts to graft their faces on to her ruined one. All the victims die, but he keeps trying…

★★★★

In a much imitated plot, the 1959 second feature film from Georges Franju has mad plastic surgeon Dr. Genessier (Pterre Brasseur) kidnapping young Parisians to serve as facial skin donors to restore the beauty of his daughter (Edith Scob), who has been disfigured in a car accident.

The victims are stalked by Genessier's raincoated assistant (Valli), a predator in a 2CV accompanied by an eerie Maurice Jarre waltz, and are thrown to a pack of vicious dogs when their usefulness is at an end.

Though a traditionally plodding police investigation explains it all, Franju's approach is to string together a series of extraordinary moments, alternating sheer sadism with a curious tenderness, in an attempt to create atmosphere rather than plot.

Sharp as a scalpel, soft as a caress, this is a weird masterwork.