DIRECTOR: Irvin Kershner
David Zelag Goodman
Tommy Lee Jones
Laura Mars is a famous fashion photographer who lives in New York City. When one of the models she has previously worked with is brutally murdered with an icepick. She develops the disturbing ability where she can see through the eyes of the killer as he murders those closest to her. The killer is killing off her friends and coworkers. Now with the police force involved, they believe that the killers motive may be that Laura Mars depicts graphic images of female sexuality and violence through controversial work and the killer hopes to stop her.
I'll admit, I had never heard of Eyes Of Laura Mars before watching the movie. The movie came up in a list of slasher movies while I was doing research for my slasher retrospective. I decided to add this to the list, and when it came time to watch it, I didn't know anything about it or what to expect, but I put it on and got myself ready. I think knowing nothing about it was a blessing. Because after I had watched it, I was pretty blown away by what I had just witnessed. A thoroughly original slasher with a few fine performances from the cast.
As the opening credits began to roll for Eyes Of Laura Mars, I was actually shocked to see that the movie was written by John Carpenter. While I consider myself a pretty big fan of his and he is one of the masters of horror, I don't know how I missed this film if he wrote it. I'm pretty clued on with his directional efforts and have admired a lot of his work but was shocked to see his name attached to the project. I was also just as surprised to see Tommy Lee Jones who is sporting a Frida Kahlo monobrow, the great Raul Julia and Brad Dourif in the cast list as well.
First of all, I want to talk about the premise and story. For me, a serial killer who is murdering the friends of a famous fashion photographer who gains the ability to see through the killer's eyes as he commits the murders is pretty bloody original to me. I can't remember or pinpoint another time when I've seen this device used in a movie. While premonitions became the standard in the Final Destination franchise, this was a great story. I think I was thoroughly impressed with how this story played for most of the running time. It was a genuinely exciting premise to watch on screen.
I think the biggest issue that I had with the Eyes Of Laura Mars is that the overall mystery of who the killer is, feels a little too easy and I had kind of guessed who it was pretty early on. This is where I get into some [SPOILER] territory. While we get several red herrings and a couple of suspects, it kind of weeds them out as the killer starts knocking them off one by one. It also doesn't help that the movie keeps trying to make it appear over and over again that two or three of these characters are really suspicious while the actual killer is set up as a possible love interest.
We also have a pretty shoddy and cheesy love story that grows during this movie's running time. It's probably my least favourite thing about the film. As we keep going back to it, it feels like it takes away from the tension. Especially when we have these scenes where the two people passionately kiss in a forest like setting, and the camera is smothered in vaseline. It looks tacky and cheap. I would have much preferred we just got a heavy police procedural with a serial killer on the loose and left the love story on the cutting room floor.
When it comes to the suspense, I thought this movie was solid for the most part. I loved every single time Laura Mars has a vision, and we witness the killer about to murder someone through her eyes. It was extremely creepy and effective. While the violence is never bloody or gory. I thought they built suspense and tension well. We get a creepy warehouse chase scene, the ending where the killer barrels out of the elevator and makes his way towards Laura Mars apartment was intense. We have a few moments where Faye Dunaway has to witness all her colleagues being murdered and can't stop it, was very well down.
The acting in Eyes Of Laura Mars is great. I can't knock Faye Dunaway or Tommy Lee Jones who lead this film. I think Faye Dunaway gets a bad wrap sometimes. You hear infamous stories about How Faye Dunaway is difficult to work with, and I imagine she just takes no crap from male industry heads and is entirely method and old school. I think here she plays a vulnerable woman very well. Tommy Lee Jones is also excellent in his supporting detective role. While I didn't always believe or enjoy their chemistry, I think they are solid. Brad Dourif and Raul Julia both deliver in their smaller roles.
Lastly, I want to mention the direction by Irvin Kershner. I think on a visual level, this is a pretty gorgeous film to witness. We get to see an old, rough New York City. This feels very apart of its time. I love how they captured the city on screen. It's my fave city in the world, and whenever I see an old-school movie filmed in the city, it brings me such joy to watch. I also love every single scene where we watch Faye Dunaway set up photo shoots in the streets and studios. I thought these scenes were gorgeous. The moment where she is taking pictures of models in front of the burning cars was a fantastic moment.
DEATH TOLL: 8
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A woman is stabbed with an icepick.
- A woman gets stabbed in the eye with an icepick.
- Two models are murdered by a home intruder.
- A man is attacked and killed in an elevator.
- A cop is attacked with a knife.
- A man is shot dead.
- Someone is stabbed in the face with an icepick.
- Someone is shot in the stomach.
The Eyes Of Laura Mars was a pleasant surprise. I hadn't heard of it until I did some research on seventies slashers and came across it on a random movie list. I decided to watch it, and I enjoyed the hell out of this early penned John Carpenter flick. While the movie is a little predictable with the killer and we get a terribly cheesy love story, this is a solidly suspenseful and well acted little serial killer, slasher movie that for its time, was probably very original. I really loved seeing Faye Dunaway this vulnerable.