I don't know why this is true, but they do. We owe the birth of the horror film genre in the U.S. to great silent films from Europe such as "The Golem", "Nosferatu", and "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari". American horror has long since lost its luster, usually preferring to center on the totally illogical wanderings of the lone maniac as he hacks teenage girls to pieces. American films show the worst possible outcome as being loss of life or money. European horror knows that isolation and hopelessness can be very horrific for the person suffering it, and the good ones yield a well-told tale with lots of atmosphere. This is one of those films.
This film probably has similarities to Frankenstein, but it is far from a take-off on that film. A megalomaniac doctor has had a car accident in which his only child - a young woman - has been horribly facially disfigured. She literally has no face. Feeling responsible for her fate, the doctor seeks a cure which involves transplanting the facial skin of another young woman to the face of his daughter. In the meantime, he is experimenting on a large kennel of dogs that he keeps. He mentions that anything seems to be possible with the dogs, yet he keeps failing to repair his daughter's face. It is interesting that the doctor seems disturbed more by his failure than by his daughter continually having her hopes raised then dashed, not to mention the fact that she knows the human cost in his unsuccessful operations. It is especially poignant to see the disfigured woman wandering about the large castle that is her home, only her eyes visible behind the mask that she has been given to wear, looking at her portrait prior to the accident, and calling her fiancé, who has presumed she is dead, just to hear his voice.
This film never really found a following because it was originally released as an art house film, but the art house crowd found the surgery scenes hard to take. Thus it was rereleased as a horror film, but the film does not have much of what is traditionally thought of as horror scenes, thus it failed in that niche too. At any rate, I highly recommend this one.
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