If you ever wanna see a really good horror picture that perfectly melds the classic horror type feel with the modern Psycho and later type feel, this is a good fucking start. It is a french movie from a gentleman by the name of Franju. Now I am familiar with this individual because I also watched a documentary by him called Blood of the Beasts. I don’t know what I was thinking man that is what the kids call “some fucked up shit.”
You see the documentary starts out showing the beauty of Paris, young lovers holding hands strolling through the park, etc. Then it zooms into a slaughter house and shows some motherfuckers killing horses, cows, sheeps, etc. For real. These tough motherfuckers smoking cigarettes and singing as they casually chop these things heads off, pull off the skin and what not. Lining up a big row of sheep and slicing their throats halfway through. Shooting a bolt into a live horse and watching him drop like a brick.
Holy jesus I always thought vegetarians were a bunch of fruits but I’m gonna have trouble eating a big piece of meat as long as I can remember this movie. It’s one thing to say “Ha ha ha I saw Chicken Run and then I went out to KFC, ha ha ha I showed those little fuckers ha ha ha ha”. Believe me I’ve said it many times myself. Same thing with Babe. But when you see what they do to these cows, I mean you can’t even make eye contact with the things. They look so sad. “Hey, sorry about all this Mrs. Cow, I just need a cheeseburger is all.”
Even if you’re just some heartless asshole shithead, there is still the whole grossout factor. I mean these guys who do this job have gotta be total sickos. They obviously enjoy it. Cutting these things open and pulling out a giant ball of intestines. And then you see unborn baby cowlings laying around on the floor. And you’re not necessarily thinking, “I wanna put some ketchup on that.” This movie is only 22 minutes long but it is hard to get through. You’re thinking, “It’s only a movie… it’s only movie… it’s– wait a minute.” And then you look down at the hotdog you’re eating.
Anyway point is, if you want to eat another hamburger without feeling like an asshole, you probaly shouldn’t watch Blood of the Beasts. This Franju knows what he’s doing and I think he took a little bit of that documentarian experience into his gothic horror masterpiece Eyes Without a Face.
What this one is about is a young gal who has been disfigured in a car accident. Her father is a pioneering plastic surgeon who has just not been the same since his wife died. He pretends that his daughter is also dead and with the help of his secretary he kidnaps young girls and attempts to transplant their faces onto his daughter Christiane.
Christiane is such a classic figure of tragedy. She doesn’t really want to do this and would rather be dead. She feels just like the dogs that her dad keeps locked up in the basement for experiments. She keeps her back turned to people or her face buried in the ground because she is so ashamed of it – and no surprise she is so self conscious when her dad the plastic surgeon raised her this way. And they make her wear an expressionless white mask to hide her shame. This is very creepy and its almost too bad, if she were in a different time period I think she and Michael Meyers could have really hit it off. Obviously they have a lot in common and I think they would make a real good couple. If you think about it from Michael’s perspective this is a real hot looking young gal. She’s got a hip type of raincoat and that cute little bob haircut and the white mask. Plus the french accent. If they had each other maybe Michael would be able to cut down on the killing. Well I don’t know on second thought I don’t want this poor gal hanging out with a crowd like that but still. She should know there are some motherfuckers out there who wear masks who would probaly consider her beautiful. It is not all about the european standard of beauty in my opinion.
Anyway I really think the theme in this movie rings true. Christiane’s outer beauty is only so important to her because it is so important to her father. The men in this movie always treat gals that way too. The good guys are some cops who trick a young shoplifting girl into going undercover for them. They don’t even explain to her what she’s getting into, and she wakes up in this texas chainsaw kind of moment, where she is all prepped for surgery with a line drawn on her face and some freako in a white mask sitting there staring at her. I mean holy jesus imagine waking up like that.
Where the Blood of the Beasts action comes in is in the first scene where the doctor does surgery on one of his abductees, a gal named Edna. He gets her all prepped, and then he cuts the skin and slowly pulls it off. And this is a loooonggg fucking scene. And this was years before the surgery channel in my opinion. It really gets you believing in and being horrified by what these people are doing.
I thought it would be funny though if they took off Edna’s face and then they ended up liking her so much they had to kidnap somebody else to cut off her face and transplant it onto Edna. But that would be a different movie though.
Anyway there is also a documentary type technique used to show how Christiane’s face rejects the transplant. They have a series of still photographs showing the progression of the skin rotting throughout the month. It reminds me of those before and after photographs they have on ads, her expression is so blank and she’s wearing no makeup.
So that documentarian type shit is what it makes it very believable but what I came out remembering is the more poetic fairy tale type images, especially in the end when Christiane frees a caged bird and it lands on her shoulder. This is the type of beautiful images of horror you haven’t seen since bride of frankenstein. If you are a horror fan and haven’t seen this one it is a must see. Believe it or not those frenchies really know what they’re doing when it comes to the horror. At least this Franju does. Way to go Franju you maniac. Stay out of the slaughterhouse and keep making these babies, if you are still alive.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.