Film: Eyes Without a Face

Daddy Issues, graphically portrayed.

"My face frightens me, and my mask frightens me even more."

1960 French Thriller/Horror/Drama about a Mad Doctor who has his nurse Louise kidnap young women to cut their facial skin and transplant it on the face of his daughter, Christiane. Christiane's face is an open wound ever since a car accident caused by Daddy Dearest...

This film provides examples of:

  • The Atoner: Dr. Génessier.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Subverted.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Christiane is free from her father and Louise, but she's still disfigured and will be until she dies (the movie takes place way before transplants were possible).
  • Cry into Chest: Christiane does this at one point with Louise, being so fed up with her father's failed experimentation on her face and so distraught over her features and her faked death, that she actually begs Louise to kill her and faints.
  • Disturbed Doves: Used for the haunting ending, which would later inspire a guy by the name of Mr. Woo...
  • Driven to Suicide: Edna.
  • Eyes Are Unbreakable: Oddly enough, although Christiane's facial skin is horribly disfigured, her eyes and the skin around them is completely unharmed. Although her mask covers her lips, it seems they're also fine, since her father cuts Edna's face off by leaving the area around the mouth untouched, meaning Christiane wouldn't need to replace that skin.
  • Faceless Eye: Poor, poor Christiane...
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Obviously, the face transplants.
  • Faking the Dead: Génessier has a fake funeral for his daughter so he can work on giving her a new face.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Christiane at the end. Although she seems nice and is never actively evil, she was at least partly aware of what her father was doing to restore her face, but desperate to cure her disfigurement, she did not stop him or object. After becoming increasingly angry with him and seeing the crying girl that is to be the next victim, she snaps and turns against her father and his assistant, killing them both and letting the girl and the animals her father had caged go free.
  • Heel Realization: Christiane at the end of the film. After progressively becoming disenchanted with her father's doings, she finally breaks when she sees his next victim wake up strapped on the operating table and terribly afraid. Christiane then proceeds to free the sobbing girl and turns on both Louise and her father.
  • The Igor: Louise is a rare female variant that used to have a deformity in the past, which Dr. Génessier fixed. Unlike the typical Igor, however, she's also learned and cunning enough to be a skilled nurse and assistant, is physically attractive and well dressed, and is excellent at earning young women's trust and luring them to the mansion.
  • Love Makes You Evil: The doctor directly causes the death of at least one girl and the suicide of another, all in the name of finding a new face for his daughter. The same can be said for Louise, who lured those girls and helped dispose of their bodies later, all because she loves the doctor and Christiane, and feels obligated to Génessier for having restored her own disfigured face years prior.
  • Mad Doctor: Dr. Génessier.
  • Parental Substitute: Louise seems to be one for Christiane, acting as a mother figure for her. A pretty twisted example, since Louise is caring towards Christiane, but dangerous when it comes to any other young woman.
  • Police Are Useless: The police finally get a lead in the disappearances and arrange a test with a woman who was earlier caught shoplifting. When she disappears, they barely follow up on it or ever interview the person who tipped them off.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: The good doctor's basement of horror.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Christiane at the end of the movie. She stabs Louise in the throat right after freeing the latest girl that was going to have her face cut off. The death of her father is also indirectly caused by her, since he's killed by the dogs he was experimenting on, which Christiane releases.
  • Serial Killer: Génessier and Louise work as a tag team to lure young women in and then surgically remove the skin off their faces in order to apply it to Christiane.
  • Tear Off Your Face: The main purpose of Dr. Génessier and Louise is to find a replacement face for Christiane, by any means necessary.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Sure, fixing your daughter's ruined face and making a revolutionary breakthrough for science and medicine by developing a way to successfully transplant skin from one person to another is all fine in principle... but kidnapping young women and cutting their faces off is the worst possible way to achieve all this.
  • White Mask of Doom: Christiane's mask, which hides her horrifyingly disfigured face.