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6 Movies like Eyes without a Face: Face On/Face Off

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GJ Cole itcherMovies like ‘Eyes without a Face’ (1960), ‘The Skin I Live In’ (2011) and ‘Seconds’ (1966) get under our skin without resorting to pure gore. Perhaps the next scariest thing after clown-face is no face at all… ~ GJ Cole

Nobody Nose the Trouble I’ve Seen

Okay, so a dude in a mask with a chainsaw is a pretty frightening scenario. But I reckon its Leatherface’s featureless visage, rather than his power tool, that generated the chills in ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (1974).

Indeed, there are plenty of films that have done away with the lumberjack equipment and got us hiding behind the sofa purely with the creepiness of a hidden face.

I suppose we must be fairly attached to our facial features, because the uncanny feelings brought on by these alternative horror flicks make for sleepless nights ahead.

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Movies Similar to ‘Eyes without a Face’…

‘The Face of Another’ (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1966)

Opening with striking x-ray images of a talking skull, Teshigahara’s take on the ‘no face’ subgenre announces itself as a New Wave experiment that is as visually startling as it is disturbing.

Burned in an industrial accident, the first thing disfigured engineer Okuyama decides to do with his replacement face is seduce his own wife – without her recognising him.

Her eagerness to ‘cheat’ on Okuyama begins, for him, the descent into madness that we will see tends to accompany ‘face-offyness’ in the movies.

Similarity Match: 85%
Adapted from Kōbō Abe’s novel, ‘The Face of Another’ is more artistically and intellectually inclined than the earlier ‘Eyes without a Face’.

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‘Seconds’ (John Frankenheimer, 1966)

Maybe everyone wanted a new start in 1966, as the same year that ‘The Face of Another’ came out John Frankenheimer directed the expressionist new identity thriller, ‘Seconds’.

A bored middle-aged man pays a shady organization to give him a whole new identity – including a new, younger face and body (belonging, handily enough, to Hollywood heartthrob Rock Hudson).

Only once the surgery (including shots of a real-life rhinoplasty) is done and his dream life is underway, does our hero realize what a creepy predicament he’s got himself into.

Similarity Match: 70%
Where ‘Eyes without a Face’ is horror-for-horrors sake – an updating of classical screamers from the likes of Universal Studios – ‘Seconds’ has social satire at its heart, set quite deliberately in mid-1960s middle America.

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‘The Skin I Live In’ (Pedro Almodovar, 2011)

This is one is all about the plot, so it’s difficult to describe without sharing a few spoilers. Suffice to say, there’s a mad (and actually quite hot) scientist, an imprisoned girl, a smattering of lunatics and criminals – and some backstreet identity reassignment.

One of Almodovar’s greatest films, it’s clearly not for the faint-hearted. But the dense plot, immaculate design and thrilling sense of danger make for a rewarding watch – if you can handle it!

Similarity Match: 65%
The director freely admits to be inspired by ‘Eyes without a Face’, but this is a far more sophisticated update, with complex themes that you’ll think about long after the credits have rolled.

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If You Like ‘Eyes without a Face’, You Will Like…

Probably by now you’re craving the sight of a human face – a nose of the calibre of Tom Cruise’s for example, or a good pair of Jolie-esque lips?

Here’s three haunting movies that more or less allow their characters to keep their faces on.

I said “more or less”, okay?

‘Judex’ (Georges Franju, 1963)

The director of ‘Eyes without a Face’ knew the horror value of a mask: the most famous scene of his crime thriller ‘Judex’ sees the bird-headed guests of a masked ball watching each other with beady eyes shortly before an apparent murder takes place.

Films like Franju’s utilize the mysterious shadows of black-and-white cinematography to evoke our fear of the unknown in our own world.

‘Judex’ may not be an out-and-out horror, but its most tense moments exploit feelings of the uncanny just as much as ‘Eyes without a Face’.

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‘Blind Beast’ (Yasuzo Masumura, 1969)

‘Eyes without a Face’ wasn’t strange enough for you? How about an erotic thriller about a blind artist whose giant warehouse studio is entirely decorated with over-sized sculptures of various body parts?

Sensual, creepy, and just plain weird, ‘Blind Beast’ is a true work of art – but probably not one you want to watch with your parents. (Or children. Or girlfriend. Or anyone that worries about your eccentric behaviour).

If your palate has been whetted by the strangeness of ‘Eyes without a Face’, then with its ‘woman held captive’ scenario and permanent sense of dread, this could be the logical next step.

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‘La Belle et la Bête’ (Jean Cocteau, 1946)

“Children believe what we tell them. They have complete faith in us.” So begins Cocteau’s grown-up adaptation of the traditional fairytale.

The poet’s cinematic masterpiece has a fairytale magic that the borderline science-fiction of ‘Eyes without a Face’ does without. Achieved with camera tricks and artful set design, ‘La Belle et la Bête’ is a charmingly creepy place to hide for a couple of hours.

As French transformation horrors go, these two are pretty far removed from each other. But the cinematic playfulness of each movie makes for a mischievously chilling double-bill.

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Time to Face the World

When you step back out into the real world after bingeing on a creepfest like this, things may look a little more… suspicious. Who’s the woman with the scarf around her face? Why won’t that guy take his motorcycle helmet off?

Maybe it’s wisest to stay in and binge a little more.

Are there any other great face transplant movies or films like ‘Eyes without a Face’ we need to see?

Let us know in the comments!

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