Les yeux sans visage (Eyes Without a Face) review

Blu-ray release of Georges Franju's haunting masterpiece is a real treat for the eyes

Following a car crash that leaves his daughter Christiane (Edith Scob) facially disfigured, obsessive plastic surgeon Dr. Genessier (Pierre Brasseur) gets his assistant Louise (Alida Valli) to lure unwitting young women to his secluded chateau in order to use them as a source of skin grafts.

Released in 1960, French filmmaker George Franju's Les yeux sans visage (aka Eyes Without a Face) is a spellbinding piece of pulp horror; a masterpiece of cinematic chills with poetic visuals that transcend the boundaries of language. Its profound influence can still be felt throughout the genre. Disturbing, hypnotic, grisly and heartbreaking, Les yeux sans visage is pure cinematic excellence. Not seen it? You should.

Picture: Seemingly sourced from the same hi-def master that served as the basis for Gaumont's All-region French Blu-ray (2010) and Criterion's Region A-locked US release (2013), the BFI's 1080p presentation of Les yeux sans visage looks superb.

Blacks are deep, whites are crisp and there's a vast range of grey shades in between the two. Detailing is immaculate, giving the image an added sense of depth and clarity. Meanwhile, native film grain is present and well resolved. All of which is a long-winded way of saying that this AVC-encoded  1.66:1 Full HD transfer never puts a foot wrong.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: The LPCM 2.0 dual-mono soundtrack is particularly strong for a film of this vintage. Every line of dialogue sounds completely natural in tone, and composer Maurice Jarre's score has probably never sounded quite so lush and well-rounded.
Audio rating: 3.5/5

Extras: The supplementary features get under way with a new audio commentary from film critic and genre expert Tim Lucas, who brings the same level of knowledge and insight to Franju's film as he regularly does to Arrow Video's Mario Bava releases.

Monsieur et Madame Curie (14 minutes) and La Première Nuit (20 minutes) are shorts by Franju, the first a biographical portrait of the famous scientists, the second a surrealist tale of a young rich boy searching the Paris Metro for a mysterious girl he glimpsed. Both are presented in HD.

Les fleurs maladives de Georges Franju (Georges Franju's Evil Flowers) offers a 46-minute look at the filmmaker's career through interviews with several of his friends and colleagues. There's also a new 17-minute interview with actress Edith Scob.

The Blu-ray also comes with a 34-page booklet containing new and archival writing about the Franju films and composer Maurice Jarre.
Extras rating: 3.5/5

We say: A stunning high-definition package for Georges Franju's unforgettable horror classic

Les yeux sans visage (Eyes Without a Face), BFI, Region B BD & R2 DVD, £20 Approx