Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face is one of the great horror films of all time. This nightmarish story involves a young women (Edith Scob) whose face has been horribly scarred by a car accident caused by her father (Pierre Brasseur). She walks around with a fake face provided by the father, who is a doctor and medical experimenter obsessed with finding ways to replace people’s faces. He’s done is successfully once, with his current beautiful assistant (Alida Valli). So they find young women like the daughter, kidnap them, and take off their faces in an attempt to graft them onto the daughter in the doctor’s secret underground lair. The procurement is done by the grateful assistant, but even the daughter is complicit, watching the women being defaced (literally!), at least until she feels hopeless and lacks a reason to live.
The film’s core involves the kidnapping, mutilation, and eventual suicide of one victim whose face almost sticks to the daughter’s, but it is eventually rejected. This is truly difficult to watch. Pretty gruesome for the time as well, as they show the doctor cutting off her face. But what makes it really hard is the tension throughout the scene. That tension dominates the whole film and at the end, you think another young women is going to get it. Instead, you get an unexpected and extraordinarily satisfying ending. Really, that’s one of my favorite endings of any film.