27 February, 2010

Influences: LES YEUX SANS VISAGE (1960)

It's difficult not to see and understand the influence Georges Franju's once notorious, eternally exquisite Sadean surgical horror had on the visual style, plot elements and mood of Jess Franco's first horror film, GRITOS EN LA NOCHE (1961) and the much later FACELESS (1988). Both of them are important markers in his career and he performs his own personal variations on the mad doctor in search of a new face for a beloved female relative theme while adding elements from German Expressionism and other films (cf THE LODGER). But I now find GRITOS... and FACELESS to be two of my lesser favorites of his horror films and somewhat more dated than the Franju film, which seems fresh and disturbing each time you see it... and in a quieter key.

I think Franco found his true voice first in THE SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS (1962) and then in MISS MUERTE aka THE DIABOLICAL DR. Z (1965). The 1982 SINISTER DR. ORLOFF is also an interesting variation and worth tracking down.

But LES YEUX SANS VISAGE does make an interesting double bill with any of those films to see where Jess Franco went and how he got there.

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Brian D. Horrorwitz said...

10 years ago I asked Franco about that influence and he told me that both stories (Les Yeux... and Gritos...) were written around the same time and it was a "coincidence" that there were similarities in the plots. I am not saying I agree necessarily, just relaying what he told me.

My favorite Franco horror is Miss Muerte.

dfordoom said...

Eyes Without a Face is such a great movie. Even though Franco borrowed the plot more than once his versions have such a different feel to them that they never really feel like rip-offs.