This post has been a long time coming. I’ve been waiting for months to review this movie because Netflix doomed me to the “very long wait” section with this disc. I’m talking about the 1978 American giallo Eyes of Laura Mars.
I have to say, it didn’t disappoint. This movie is a really neat, distinctly American take on the giallo genre.
Faye Dunaway stars as successful photographer Laura Mars.
She’s known for her violent and sexual images. This is no surprise, as Laura has been having increasingly violent visions of murder and they’ve been influencing her photography. In fact, at the opening of her exhibit in SoHo, she finds out that her publisher, Doris (Meg Mundy) has been murdered. The killer is starting to target those close to Laura.
A young, unibrowed, Tommy Lee Jones costars as the police lieutenant John Neville.
There’s something Carl Sagan-y about young Tommy Lee Jones, maybe it’s because he wears a turtleneck later in the movie. Anyway, he shows Laura some unreleased crime scene photos that bear an uncanny resemblance to her photographs. Laura continues to have visions when she tries to take pictures and Neville eventually believes her. They begin a relationship as Laura’s friends are picked off.
I consider this an American giallo film. There are some stylistic choices that keep this from being a standard slasher. First, there’s the lack of teens and the setting is professional. This has more in common with Argento’s Tenebrae and Opera than it does with Friday the 13th. It follows the killer’s POV trope and includes the obligatory shot of a hand with a stiletto.
The score alternates between disco and a Goblin-esque synth score mixed with some orchestral music. What makes this movie distinctly American is that it’s very bloodless compared to its European counterparts of the time. You can tell that they were going more for art than slasher. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just don’t expect gallons of the red stuff like it’s an Italian movie.
What I like about this movie is the way it plays with what’s real. You know that Neville believes in Laura but her friends are worried that she’s having some kind of breakdown. She isn’t really a reliable source. So we get these shots of her reflected multiple times in mirrors and we wonder if she’s the killer.
Laura’s career is devoted to creating a fake reality. She’s not a documentary photographer, she films fashion campaigns (Fun fact, prop photographs were supplied by Helmut Newton and Rebecca Blake. They all have a very eighties Vogue feel). So the audience is watching an actress playing a photographer creating a photo set and doesn’t that just break your brain a little?
The movie is full of red herrings galore, including Raul Julia playing Laura’s ex-husband, Michael.
I’m not telling you the ending because I really liked the twist and it actually made me a little sad. So now you have to watch it for yourself to find out what happens.
Fun fact; I really love when I recognize places in movies. A lot of movies are filmed in NYC now but that wasn’t always the case. So I shrieked when I recognized Greene St. and Canal St. This website has some fun comparison pictures.
Another fun fact, this was directed by Irvin Kershner, the guy most responsible for making The Empire Strikes Back not suck.