A vengeful witch and her fiendish servant return from the grave and begin a bloody campaign to possess the body of the witch's beautiful look-alike descendant. Only the girl's brother and a handsome doctor stand in her way.
After causing an accident that left his daughter Christiane severely disfigured, the brilliant surgeon Dr. Génessier works tirelessly to give the girl a new face. He does so however by kidnapping young women and attempting face transplants. He has been woefully unsuccessful to date. The doctor's world begins to collapse around him when his daughter realizes just what he has been doing. Written by
Director Georges Franju never considered the film to be a horror story, but instead felt it was tale of "anguish." See more »
When she's not wearing it, Christiane's mask is very thick and heavy and would only seem to cover her face. When she puts it on, however, it is very thin, close-fitting, and seamlessly covers her jawline and the underside of her chin, revealing that the mask itself is a prop while the actress probably wears a combination of makeup and prosthetics. See more »
This is one of those oddities that makes an interest in cinema worthwhile. Like the equally atmospheric Carnival of Souls, it was made by a director whose primary activity lay in documentaries, and can very much be regarded as a 'one-off'.
Franju's vision is at once beautiful and emetic: on the one hand, we have the stunning face of Edith Scob, the weird sight of her masked figure running into the night, the sequences which are held for longer than seems natural; on the other hand, arguably the most nauseating operation scenes committed to film (and somehow more unpleasant for being in black and white). The atmosphere is one of quiet poetry, but the juxtaposition with horror makes it unusual and effective. A connoisseur's delight. 9 out of 10. See it, if you can stomach it.
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