Thursday, May 27, 2010

Film #26: Eyes Without A Face (1959)

The things we do for beauty.
Feeling his face was missing the perfect “pouty look,” Chris recently had yellow gobs of his own butt fat implanted into his lips. He has told his wife to “kiss his ass” before, but now each morning she actually does!
Nick on the other hand wanted to feel more like a man. He hunted down a Sierra Sasquatch and had the monster’s back hide implanted on his chin. Oh, he has a beastly beard now, but the Bigfoot funk has started to cause blackouts.

Still, these agonizing acts of beautification don’t even come close to the cosmetic catastrophes committed in this week’s flick, “Eyes Without a Face.”

Main character Dr. Genessier is a world class surgeon in suburban Paris, France. But aside from that, the man is quite a mofo. His manic driving results in a car accident that renders his once beautiful daughter Christiane into “Sarah Jessica Parker”-level ugly.
In order to fixy-what-he-brokey, Genessier begins abducting beautiful French women and removing their face meat in the hope of transplanting it onto his disheveled daughter. Mofo actions if I ever saw 'em.

But this never-before performed surgery is harder than the old doc thought. He experiments on stray dogs, but it just isn’t good enough practice. When one human operation fails, it is on to the next mademoiselle and her luscious face.
Right now you are thinking, “Didn’t French doctors actually perform the first face transplant surgery a few years ago?” Yes, they did. It’s quite ironical.

Olde Saw-Face is aided in his belle butchering by assistant nurse Louise, who years ago received a smaller scale stolen mug-transplant herself and feels forever indebted to the doc.
But the cops start to get wise to his kisser-removing killing, and work with a decoy to prove their hunch.

Meanwhile Christiane – who is forced to wear a creepy mask to hide her lasagna face – is starting to crack under the pressure of multiple surgeries and zero results.
It all comes to a “face-off” of epic proportions in 1959’s foreign freak-out, “Eyes Without a Face.”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 2.9
Chris Dimick mumbles:
“This movie is just a pretty face. It may look stunning, but inside is an empty, boring soul that provides little substance. Behind the beautiful cinematography capturing Paris and its suburbs, and the sweeping camera shifts through Genessier's winding mansion, this movie's guts fail to deliver anything of interest or meaning.

I’ll admit, the extensive face-removal scenes had me squiring in my seat (it's just so... ewwww). As did the psychotic apathy I felt in relation to the face-stolen women who went mad after realizing their injuries. But when it comes down to it, this one was just nice to date but never to marry.

We equate our face with our identity. In some aspects, it is the most important part of our bodies. It the place people first look (unless you are Sheyla Hershey), associate with, and usually is the most distinguishing feature of a person. This movie cuts into the fear we all hold about disfigurement and becoming a social outcast. In a way, the women lost more than their face, but also their identity. They weren't outright killed physically, but they didn’t have to be. Genessier took their life away when he removed the skin that covered their facial muscles.

Okay, I get it. The movie was somewhat deep. Losing one's face, but living to mumble the tale through skinned lips -- now that is horror. But this point wasn't drilled home enough to rouse the soul. Once again, this movie was the victim of slow filler shots that were added for beauty, but just dragged down the film into mediocrity.

It doesn’t take a lot of gore or spooks for a movie to be scary if it can tap into latent, universal fears. Eyes Without a Face tries to tap into this, but only manages to get barely skin deep.

If you watched me during this movie, you would have seen MY face read “grossed-out, bored, briefly intrigued, and then disappointed.”

N-Rating: 2.1
Nick Rich mumbles:
"How can I best describe how I felt about this film? Well, as it was a French film, let me utilize my mastery of the language of romance to appropriately reveal my thoughts: LE BOO! Continuing the downward spiral Vampyr began a few weeks ago, Eyes Without A Face was a disappointing European entry into the RDHP. Not that bad movies are anything new to the RDHP at this point, but for me, because of the strong showing European films made at the beginning of the project I find myself judging ones that don't make the cut a bit more harshly.

Don't get me wrong, there was plenty to like about this film: dudes that looked so French you could smell surrender on them, creepy waifs wandering around in life-like masks (did I mention she was creepy?), and eerily realistic mad scientist surgery scenes.
All of which are great additions to a horror film (especially the creepy mask - because the film was shot in black and white there were scenes where you could barely tell it was a mask, it just felt 'off' when you saw the character - creepy) but the slow pace in Eyes Without A Face ended up stealing the thunder of these cool gimmicks.

If done right, a meandering pace can create a great buildup which makes the film all the more engaging... but in this case, while I found myself appreciating the cool gimmicks, it was such a leisurely route to get there I ended up not really caring (for the most part) once they were actually happening. This kind of deflating pacing makes a film difficult for me to watch and frankly made it difficult for me to stay awake during the film (in its defense I was up late the night before catching up on Lost).

Sadly, this film took itself too seriously, as stereotypically French films do. I'm surprised there wasn't a crying clown in the background of one of the shots... or was there? Maybe I missed it as my head bobbed down, desperately battling slumber.

The Skinny: Watch this flick if you're in the mood to feel smart but not be entertained... or if counting sheep just isn't working."

What We Learned From Watching "Eyes Without a Face":
-Dogs don't like being operated on.
-All French cars look the same -- stupid.
-Say what you want about the French, but they have excellent vocab.
-Sometimes you just have to slap a bitch.
-Even doctors love to smoke in Paris.
-Beautiful girls never go to prison.
-Being dead is better than being ugly (below):

Quote of the Viewing:
[Faceless Christiane wanders away from her home and support network, and frolics off alone into the sunset]
Nick: "What is she going to do now? How will she survive?"
Chris: "Well, she'd be one hell of a poker player!"

RDHP Presents:
Others Without a Face
While disfigured Christiane in this film wanted nothing more than a new mug, she's not the only one living a faceless existence. Here we present other people and things that lack a face.

Most don't have faces, excluding those in awesome 1980s movies.

You don't want to see what he's got hiding under there.

"Faceless People"
Remember this viral marketing bit from 2008, all these faceless a-holes turning up at British high-society events. Turns out it was all just a stunt... to sell cars.

The Invisible Man
No face, and no body at all!

Despite its name, Internet Web sites still can't have faces. Nor can books. We don't get it.

This Thing
We don't know what it is, but we just crapped ourselves over it.

The Smoke Monster
Sure, it can create faces, but its pure form is truly faceless. Kinda of a stretch we know... we just miss Lost (tear).

The Question
If you don't have the answers, you may not be asking the right questions -
like why doesn't he have a face?

The face of evil is always shifting, which makes it anonymous. If it can be anything and everything, we have to say that its faceless.

The RDHP Presents:
Top Reasons to Wear a Mask
In order to hide her hideous honker, Christiane donned a pretty creeptastic mask. What are a few other reasons one would put on a face-cover? I wonder?

You are a homicidal killer

The feeling of hot latex rattles your rocks

It's Carnivale!

You're fugly

The sex party requires them

You're feeling kitty-tastic!

You're addicted to fame,
body hair removal,
and baby oil!