Wednesday, June 15, 2011

150 Days of Halloween: Eyes Without A Face (Also Super 8)

Here we are again, another day and another horror movie. I also saw Super 8 today, because I basically live for movies I guess. I'll touch on Super 8 later in the post, but I will say it's pretty damn awesome if you are a child of the 80's.

Eyes Without a Face is a French horror movie from 1960, and the first of the black and white horror movies on the schedule. Black and White is an aesthetic I feel should make a comeback sometime soon. The 3D revival has been fun for its goofy horror movies like Piranha 3D and Valentines Day, but isn't something I particularly cared for. Depth of field works just fine with a focus blur, I don't need a headache to come with the experience. A black and white revival movement would be something interesting in this day and age, most modern film makers have never shot without color. It would necessitate a mini education for directors interested in the venture, lighting and framing could be rethought by a whole generation raised on color. If movies like Eyes Without a Face can be as beautiful as they are, imagine what could be done now with the style?

I just love the unspoken eeriness of it all.
Wow, alright, that was certainly a tangent. As you can assume based on that ramble, the films is beautiful despite its lack of color. Or perhaps because of it. Blood is a rich and deep black against porcelain like skin, shadows and light fade into one another all around actors who practically glow with a light of their own Its all very pleasing on the eyes. It also adds so much to the titular character, as she is forced to wear an expressionless mask for much of the film. Without color the mask often blends into her features perfectly, creating this creepy yet eternally sad creature whose eyes weep, yet whose face remains unchanging.

The story follows a famous surgeon who is pioneering the art of the skingraft and the transplant. He is unceasing in his devotion to his craft, his need to control these medical pursuits bleeding into his everyday life. He needs order, and he needs the order to be his own. This plays an important role in the lives of the other characters, most of all his horribly disfigured daughter who lost her face in a car accident. She listlessly wanders the estate like a ghost, trapped between a desire to be whole again and the moral implications of her fathers actions. Her father, you see, is harvesting the faces of young women like herself, to give her back her features. To take back the control he lost when he lost control of his car and maimed his daughter.
Sometimes you forget its a mask your seeing.

This isn't a horror movie of fast cuts and sudden scares, its a slow examination of the depths we will go when we lose control. Characters don't menace, they don't scream and rant about why they are doing these things, no taunts or cruel smiles. They are tight lipped, they are tired and exhausted as they try to hold onto the conviction that drives them to these dark places. They are desperate to succeed and to never look back. Its almost confusing to watch characters behave this way, after years of movie characters ceaselessly spouting exposition and monologing on the nature of their actions.

Eventually, as the daughters desire to be whole folds in the face of her growing disgust and horror at the depths they have fallen, the inevitable turn comes. I enjoyed this movie, the slow and deliberate pacing paired with characters more interested in subtly then dialogue was nice to see. The one complaint I have for this one is the soundtrack. Often it follows the movie well, just being a background element. Other times it suddenly becomes an irritating and repetitive series of unpleasant sounds. It often plays when the doctors assistant is on screen, so at first I thought it only played as she prepared to snare a new victim. However this isn't her jumping out of the shadows for a short scene, this irritating song will play while she befriends the victims, or drives a car around. I hated that song very quickly.

Also, for the 1960's, pretty good effects.
Overall I would recommend this film, its a vast departure from what you see in theaters these days, and the contrast is well worth experiencing. For the full 150 Days of Halloween schedule, and links to all the reviews, just click on THIS. Now for some Super 8 talk.

Super 8 is a whole different beast.

Have you ever seen The Goonies? Remember how the kids were actually realistically depicted kids? The cursed, they made lewd comments, and they fucked with each other. It was authentic, and as a kid I appreciated seeing kids like myself having an adventure as opposed to the white washed kids other movies expected me to identify with. I shop-lifted and called my friends assholes, we got into trouble and did stupid things all the time, and that's what I wanted my movie equivalents to be like. I loved that movie.

My childhood.
Super 8 loves that movie too, and has a cast of real kids too. They are crass, they make fireworks, and they tell horrible jokes about their teachers. The movie started and a big stupid grim slowly crept across my face as I watched kids who behaved like I used to behave, kids right out of The Goonies. The movie is a big nostalgia tribute to those kinds of movies and experiences. The movie is fresh in theaters, so no plot for you, but I thought it was a damn fun movie with a pretty decent set of stories being told. If you like The Goonies, Stand by Me, ET, or any of those movies from those years gone by, then you owe it to see this movie. If you grew up in the 80's at all, or the early 90's, then this is damn near required viewing. Basically, if I had to sum the movie up in a succinct fashion, I would just say: The Goonies, but with massive explosions.

If that isn't a ringing endorsement, well then, I don't know what is.


  1. that horror movies looks freaky, in the 60's that is a pretty good effort

  2. The Goonies with massive explosions? Sounds amazing.

  3. Eyes without a face, it sounds like a movie back when movies needed a good storyline and not just flashy cgi.

  4. I don't like old movies that much

  5. Eyes without a Face looks awesome, gotta watch it!

  6. Super 8 was great. I'll check out Eyes Without a Face.