FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jan 19, 2009

the EYES have it (wakka, wakka)

Once upon a time, some friends of mine and I started another review blog for stuff that wasn't horror-related. Long story short, it didn't really go anywhere.

CUT TO: now! A cyberpal recently asked why I haven't yet to review Eyes of Laura Mars, and I though to myself, "Didn't I review that already? I think I did. Am I crazy? Am I imagining things? Things I've done, things I've seen? Was my stint as a cast member of The Golden Girls also merely a figment of my imagination? Where am I? Did I really buy this shirt? It's awful."

Then I remember that I had, in fact, reviewed Eyes of Laura Mars for that other now-defunct blog. In the interests of humanity and laziness, I'm re-posting it here. Rejoice!


The 1978 mystery thriller flick Eyes of Laura Mars has been on my list of "must see"s forever, and when I saw Laura's eerie glowing eyes looking at me from the shelf at my local library last night, I decided to make the leap from dreams to reality. Was the film worth the long long wait? Sure, I suppose. Why not?

Faye Dunaway stars as the titular Laura Mars, a glamourous and edgy photographer whose glamourous, edgy photographs are pushing the boundaries taste. Though they often depict murders and crime scenes, Laura's photographs are nevertheless used in cool, hip advertising, forcing the audience to confront everyday violence and the ways in which society celebrates heinous crimes. It's fuckin' deep, man...her photos really make you think, you know? It's art, baby. You probably don't get it.

Laura is soon haunted by fuzzy psychic visions of the brutal murders of her closest friends and associates. Because she's seeing the crimes through the eyes of the killer, she has no idea who the perp is...this means it could be anyone! Anyone at all! Maybe even...Laura herself. Again...deep.

Eyes of Laura Mars is firmly entrenched in its era: the decadent late 70s. The first giveaway that this is a 70s flick is the fact that it's got its own theme song: Love Theme from Eyes of Laura Mars (Prisoner), sung by none other than Barbra Streisand. That's right, this is no B- or C-level theme song by, you know, Kiki Dee or something. Laura Mars hauls out the big guns straight off. Man, every movie from the 70s had its own damn theme song. The only hold out on that trend are the James Bond flicks. I say we bring it back, dammit! I want to see Love Theme from The Hot Chick (Pillow Fights and Strange New Feelings) sung by Marilyn McCoo sprawled across the screen. Are you listening to me, Hollywood? I certainly hope you are.

Oh, honey, the stars in this movie are mega-watt! MEGA-WATT! Behind the scenes we've got a script and story by horror maestro John Carpenter and competent, confident direction from Irvin Kershner- the man in the director's chair for a little something called The Empire Strikes Back. On screen, first and foremost we've got Faye Dunaway. I love Faye Dunaway. I mean...Network! Bonnie and Clyde! Chinafuckingtown, y'all. Tinseltown simply does not produce the caliber of woman equal to your Faye Dunaways anymore. While Ms Dunaway's presence is certainly enough to get me to watch a movie, Eyes of Laura Mars also boasts Raul Julia as Laura's creepy ex-husband, Brad Dourif as Laura's creepy chauffeur, Rene Auberjonois as Laura's creepy manager, and Tommy Lee Jones as Laura's sometimes creepy new boyfriend. Yes, he's the least creepy man in Laura's life, he's the lead detective on the case, and he's fallen head over heels for Laura and she's the love of his life immediately. Can you see where this plot is going? Yes...yes you can. I tell you, the Eyes of Stacie Ponder figured this movie out pretty quickly, but it really doesn't matter. Thriller/mysteries are always enjoyable to watch unfold, and Laura Mars is no exception. Besides, one spends a majority of one's viewing time transfixed by Tommy Lee Jones's unibrow, anyway.

Aside from said unibrow, I found quite a few things about Eyes of Laura Mars amusing. First, there's Laura's photographs. While they're talked of as "reprehensible", "ultra violent", and "tasteless", they're really quite tame. In fact, most people probably wouldn't use "reprehensible" to describe a photo of two topless models pulling each other's hair. I certainly would, however, use that word to describe their crimped and frizzy hair.

I also immensely enjoyed the fact that Laura has a driver amd must be driven everywhere in New York rich! How positively glamourous! Eventually, the camera pulls back to reveal the vehicle in which Laura is chauffeured around the city:

It's a fucking battle wagon! Do we think that Sue Ellen Ewing is glamourous driving around Dallas in her battle wagon? No. Everyone else is driving Mercedeseseses and Corvettes and Porsches and we feel bad for Sue Ellen Ewing. Battle wagons are not sexy. Those are some sweet rims, though.

It's difficult for me to be objective about a thriller like Eyes of Laura Mars because I almost always love a thriller like Eyes of Laura Mars. Even if it's (or is that because it's...?) silly and over-the-top and I know whodunit about 5 seconds after they walk onscreen, it's always a good time. Look into my eyes!


B.E. Earl said...

Saw this a loooong time ago and I never realized that Carpenter wrote the damned thing. Nice! Gonna have to check it out again soonest.

Sam said...

I'm in much the same boat as BE, though when I saw it in 1978 I did so with my mother, which adds a whole level of creepy to the proceedings. Shudder.

Anyway, I've been meaning to watch it again one of these days (read: a long, long time from right now), and there's a novelization of the movie floating around, as well. Maybe I'll jump on the latter first, as I saw it pretty recently on the shelves at my local used book shop.

JA said...

Lord I love faye Dunaway. I'd say I wish I could see through the eyes of Faye Dunaway, but looking at her these days I don't think she can close them all the way and that would be exhausting.

Talking about TEOLM reeeeally brings out the gay in me, but her outfits in this movie are FAAAAAAAAAB. Stacie, you were just complaining that you can't figure out how to be stylish - DRESS LIKE THIS. I demand it. I wanna see you in capes and caftans ASAP.

Also - excuse me while I put my Snooty Art Person hat on (yes, it's a beret) - her photography is a rip-off of Guy Boudin's work, who kicked ass. Huge feathered hair, furs, blood everywhere.

Anonymous said...

JA thanks for the Boudin link - truly outstanding! I've bookmarked it for later perusal. Only got through the first few snaps - total comedy caption heaven!!! Bliss!

Arboghost! said...

Faye Dunaway stars as the titular Laura Mars

I think of her as the eponymous Laura Mars but then I'm very chaste.

Evol Kween said...

Hey umm, on a totally unrelated topic. Do you know when the Friday 13th remake is hitting Australian shores? I can't find anything about it online. And since you're the Horror QUEEN (!!!) I thought you might have ways of knowing? Cause you're like psychic and stuff?

Richard Doyle said...

I think of her as the eponymous Laura Mars but then I'm very chaste.

Well now, it's the movie that would be eponymous, not the character.

"titular" is to "eponymous" as "pseudonym" is to "pseudonymous"

Joe said...

Wow - I can't believe I inspired a post! I feel so special (no actually special).

I asked Stacie if she'd seen this because I knew she'd be ALL over that fashion and hammy acting, the crazy gays (Odo from Deep Space 9). My favourite part is when her gay friend is about to get attacked and she sees the attack coming and she's running down the street screaming "Dooooooooonnnnnnnaaaaaalllllldddddd" Ah it's so funny...

Fun fact: Ugly Betty and Devil Wears Prada totally rip off the car wreck photo scene.

Kevin said...

I'm a little late to the scene, but I just wanted to mention that the photographs may have been reminiscent of Bourdin, but they're by Helmut Newton - a contemporary of Bourdin's. My guess is that they influenced each other's work, like Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff.

Okay, maybe nothing like that.

Anonymous said...

Request over here! Please review "Eyes Without a Face".

Jessica said...

The photos were by Helmut Newton. You should know that.

Jessica said...

I was concerned about the eponymous argument, not to make trouble because I kept mulling it over. So, whenever you say Dracula, meaning him the man, or Hamlet, likewise, you always have to say titular and not eponymous. Could that really be right. 'The eponymous hero' I thought. That can never be said: he would always have to be the titular hero. Eventually I just googled eponymous and here's what it said:

(of a person) being the person after whom a literary work, film, etc, is named: the eponymous heroine in the film of Jane Eyre

which sounds as if Jane Eyre is the eponymous heroine in the film Jane Eyre, does it not. So Hamlet is the eponymous hero in the play Hamlet, and Laura Mars is the eponymous heroine in the film Eyes of Laura Mars. Is that not right? Then you can say - or CAN you - the eponymous Laura Mars. Though it would be better English to say 'the eponymous heroine' as otherwise you're repeating the name, but I think it's fine as it means 'the Laura Mars who gave her name to the film's title'. Titular's OK too.

Stacie Ponder said...

Though they each have variations of use, they're pretty much synonyms. Although I am definitely not right all the time! But Arbogast was just being a pill.

Jessica said...

oh was he.

Jessica said...

There was a second meaning of eponymous, which is the way you said it first, where it's the film/pop group/book that's eponymous with regard to something else, or someone else, and this proved to me too complex to relay, though it's the same thing but the other way around.

I'm still fuddled by Eyes though, because of Love. They definitely do fall in love, she definitely does see through his eyes, and has done awhile. He changes his mind about her, and about women, and starts seeing through her eyes too, though it is Too Late. Also 'if you love me, kill him,' which I know is a split personality, but not only two but three, the third being the omni-viewer, the one that can see both sides, which is why the mirror splits into three, not two, and then she's left on her own, but what does THAT mean, if she's been him, or at least a part of him for a long time? Her sales will go down and she'll have to do photos of country kitchens and simmering pies and have no inspiration.

Is this what Love is? I used to think, yes, yes, it is. That is Love. I couldn't find a better version anywhere, even though yes, it does involve being immersed with a psychotic serial killer and losing all your friends to him, and then even losing him too because love is death. I still can't find a better version. I know you'll say 'but this is horror so there isn't any love here,' but that's not... quite correct.

I liked this review of yours but you didn't think, 'ah, at last, a boyfriend possibility' when you watched it, which is what I thought when I saw it, and I went on thinking that. There is just something peculiar about making these photos that are replicas of murders that the person you're doomed to love has either committed or seen, as in seen police photos of, or crime scenes. It is his vision she sees - and that IS love. One could try it maybe without the murder, and just keep the art - but what would be the point? I didn't mind her car. I liked all the aesthetics of the film. We don't really quite 'get' his take on things though, because he must know she's seeing through his eyes, he's the only one who DOES know that, so - has that created the magnetism? And they're at war really, because she likes all these weird things, creative people, models and so on, sexy lingerie and so on that he doesn't like, he is a police officer so anti-imagination and any form of deviance, and she has so much of that.

It got slated as a 'more style than substance' movie when it came out and is still low down on importance in any way at all. Only I think it edges towards the supernatural element to love and find its quest entirely beyond the rational montage of the tale or even the concept of rationality in a plodding surface way, but it is something to do with Destiny, or how else would they have found each other? And then you can't tell which thing caused the other thing, whether it's the eye of love or creativity or something else, and her confusion between a camera and a gun, because perception itself has become murderous. That Carpenter is a wizard. But I can't find another film similar. Have you come across one in your extensive research?

Stacie Ponder said...

"I know you'll say 'but this is horror so there isn't any love here,' but that's not... quite correct."

While I didn't read the film the same way you did–not saying yours isn't a perfectly valid and interesting read–I would never claim that a horror movie can't also be a love story. That would be nuts! Horror isn't always just "horror", and I'm happy for it.

As to other similar films–if you're talking about "doomed to love", they're not executed remotely like Eyes... but High Tension and Martyrs are the first two that spring to mind, but I'm sure there are others.

Jessica said...

I saw those two, but the second's unrequited, and could really be said to be not love at all, certainly not a love affair, and the first: I suppose there was camaraderie amongst the girls and the notion of vengeance held some aspect of love, but again, not two people falling in love with each other and that being what the horror circulated around. So neither, but it's just possible there's a scrap of what I mean in Trouble Every Day, though this is getting very recent and I was more trying to get back to the seventies and eighties which is your era.

Was there any doomed love in Martyrs though? I mean the madwoman said she was doing all this stuff because one had visions of beatitude once having been sufficiently tortured, but she wasn't in love with her victim, nor did she have any sort of a personal interest. Not enough involvement - that film annoyed me as it happens because without the emotional aspect, the suffering's pointless. And we forgot about the other girl quite soon. I know what you mean, because killing off everyone round the breakfast table is a good start on romantic love, but then it tailed off.

There may just be Eyes of Laura Mars.

Jessica said...

Sorry I forgot - Possession, Andrzej Zulawski. Sort of.

Stacie Ponder said...

I guess I was thinking of things in a different way than you were. Have a great day!

Jessica said...

Not that different. I liked your review by the way, but you said everything so no need to repeat.