Our central sorcerer, Professor Genessier has good call to have his conscience checked. This misguided plastic surgeon (with more than a few suggestions that he is also partial to Jewish Mystic Witchcraft, Kabbalah), well respected in his field, an authority on the topic of heterograft which is the surgeon craeft (yes, CRAEFT) of successfully transplanting living parts from skin to bone from donor to recipient. This now realised skill (see successful recipients like whoever now has Mickey Rourkes face) that was at the point of production considered sci-fi, has an unfortunate downside. It isn’t possible to take a Face/Off and move it to another cranium UNLESS both sides are alive, an issue since most people are quite attached to the skin on their face. The prof has destroyed the beautiful face of his daughter in a car wreck that’s his own fault and wants to recrify this by….you guessed it. As he often refers to it as, the “miracle” he seeks to repeat an earlier success he had with his nurse assistant girlfriend, the beautiful and unwitting Louise.
The now mad through guilt, Professor Genessier is the core of “Eyes Without a Face” and serves as a mesmerising anti-hero in this kabbalistic cult classic. The talented Georges Franju’s slightly camp estoric horror, now has been given a spitshine in the 2003 35mm print and this helps refine the finer elements that many miss on it’s original rough but readily available version. The once renowned professor and plastic surgeon has now removed himself from society and survives in a closed off mansion where he toys with women ensnared by the obedient Louise along with a host of animals that would have Greenpeace collapse in on itself with rage. What really stands out is the incredibly graphic procedures that when viewed through without sound could easily be a medical demonstration or tutorial. It’s that graphic, detailed and is clearly meant to be.
We join our charming duo of Louise and the Prof with clearly beguiled Louise disposing of a corpse that he Professor has had some fun with. Since Genessier’s great initial successes he appears to have lost his mojo and nothing from animal to kidnapped lady with Louise his work has not gone well. The prof has reported his daughter as missing and has falsely identified a corpse as his daughter to further bury identity within his grizzly hermit based existence.
The treatment of the material is the noteworthy unique key that has created the strong Witchcraft and Kabbalist following. The ideas of switching identity and creation of gollum transhumans is treated as not just a possiblity but as a cautionary tale that while not possible at the time of production soon would be. Life is cheap, agendas are paramount and never is this more apparent than a scene at a cemetery, where the mad professor is hiding a body in the large Jewish (a nod to the Kabbalist intention) family plot. At the gate, a shrill crash made by branches against the wind and sky is what dominates the scene and drowns out consideration of the human life. The references to Kabbalah surrealist classic like Der Golem can be seen in the bizarro cages containing animals to be diced up along with the Kubrick technique of changing sizes and georgraphy in the shapeshifting mansion that has interior sizing that defies its exterior.
What really marks out this gory classic is the matter of fact way it approaches the material, the procedures and it’s to no ones surprise that this is a huge underground hit with the Kaballah obsessed elite within Hollywood.