Eyes Without a Face, in all its reeling enchantment, is classic horror at its most spellbinding. Since the film’s release in 1960, Edith Scob’s vacant stare, damned beneath her featureless mask, has seized audiences to the point of revulsion. The story recycles Frankensteinian ideas of monsters and makers; a mutilated daughter and her ‘mad scientist’ father who nefariously recrafts her beauty at the cost of other women; yet Georges Franjus challenges tradition, cinematic and thematic, with unsuspecting, lyrical femininity. Extreme visual effects, some of which have caused audiences to faint, in oscillation with Scob’s ethereal, waif-like characterisation, posture Franjus’ macabre fantasy as essential, innovative cinema.
Eyes Without a Face is a haunted house by way of New Wave stylisation; a melodic feast for the senses. It is precisely the tragedy of a beautiful woman disfigured, visually coded as a pair of eyes attached to a body, forced to view the world from an unhealable wound, which casts light on the audience who, much like a pair of disembodied eyes, peer into this carnival of horror — daring to look, unable to break their gaze.