This is one of those classics that I always heard about and, even without seeing it, I could see its shadow in other movies like, for example, Pedro Almodovar’s LA PIEL QUE HABITO. Curiously, it had to wait all these years to be shown on Portugal’s cinema circuit and, finally, I was able to see it and I really enjoyed it.
You probably know the story. A surgeon, whose daughter had a terrible accident that left her disfigured, tries by all means to give her a new perfect face. With the help of his lover, he kidnaps girls and then scalps her faces off.
Filmed in beautiful black and white, the film has an eerie atmosphere that haunts the characters. The word oneiric has been used many times related to this movie and it makes perfect sense. There’s a dreamlike quality that makes it look kind of artificial, almost surrealistic, but at the same time it takes hold of us until the weird poetic finale.
I think this is the first film directed by Georges Franju that I see and, although I’m not a fan of slow rhythm movies, now I want to see more from him. His work in this movie has influenced many directors and movies and, I guess, at the time of its production, 1960, it shocked many filmgoers with its realistic scalps. The quality of the special effects surprised me. I was also pleasantly surprised to realize that it aged well, and it isn’t as dated has I thought it would be.
Probably, the most dated thing about the movie is the acting. Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli and Edith Scob aren’t very natural in their performances, but their acting matches with the style of the movie. I will never forget the last scenes with Scob, as the disfigured daughter, moving like a ghost through the sets.
It may have been made in the 60s, but it’s a strong genre movie and it deserves its classic status!
My Rate: 7 (de 1 a 10