Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Even I find it odd that I haven't reviewed Umberto Lenzi's Eyeball (aka the more fancy schmancy Italian title Gatti Rossi In Un Labirinto Di Vetro!). Lenzi is one of my favourite directors and Eyeball is, without any regrets, one of my favourite gialli. That doesn't mean it's one of the best, because I mentions dozens of Italian murder mysteries that's both smarter and better-looking. But none of them is Umberto Lenzi's Eyeball, and I think even Cat O'Nine Tails wakes up in the middle of night, having angst over that fact and going back to sleep with anti-depressant mixed with J&B Scotch Whisky wishing tomorrow will be a better day...
A slightly stupid group of tourists is on their with on a bus through
them a fishy priest, a big-mouthed American tourist with family, a lesbian
couple - yeah, the usual gang of suspects. Their guide is a man who looks a
little bit too much on the teenaged girls. On the bus is also Paulette (Martine
Brochard) who's gonna meet her boss, Mark (John Richardson). They stop in Spain and visits a
local market - but suddenly one of the girls is getting brutally stabbed to
death and one of her eyes is gouged out! Without much hesitation the group
continues, after the usual interrogations by the police, until yet another
murder happens - this time in a funhouse, and her eye is also removed! This
won't stop our dear tourists and they continue together. But soon the paranoia
grows - who's the killer, and why is he/she taking the eyes from innocent young
I know, I know. The story is actually beyond stupid - but I DON'T CARE! :) It's friggin' Lenzi and he's going crazy with the giallo-concept. Except not so smart idea with having every victim going by the same bus even if they know they will get killed, the rest of the story isn't bad at all and delivers on of the most entertaining films in the genre ever. First of all, the kills - while not extremely gory - is very violent and sadistic. Very stylish stuff, especially the bathroom-murder (the bloodiest of the bunch also). The killers look, a red raincoat is also very effective and gives a totally different look to the murders than the usual black clothes. It's a brilliant visual idea and makes this a stand-out among giallo-killers.
Eyeball also stands out because it's one of the most unsubtle thrillers I've seen. People scream and over-act like never before, but it fits the hysterical set-up and I think Lenzi just decided to fuck around with the usual stereotypes and create a giallo that would scream it's way through the cinematic flesh of all the other thrillers of the time. Hey, even the music - by Bruno Nicolai is big and bold and slightly tacky, but it all comes together in the end. This is a movie made not for the small details but for the bigness of it all.
In this crazy romp there's some fine, fine performances also. I've always liked John Richardson and he's good here, vulnerable actually - quite far away from the typical macho men inhabiting these movies. George Rigaud as the priest is perfect. He takes a very adorable character and makes him the "probably paedophile" priest we love so much, years before the Catholic Church made it trendy. Best of them all is Martine Brochard, who has a lot to do and do it very well.
I need to force you all to see Eyeball, not because it will make your brains explode because how smart it is, but it will make them explode because of how passionate, how fun and entertaining it is. So grab your sharp knifes, take my hand and get on the bus dammit!