Thursday, 11 October 2018

Eyeball (1975)

Eyeball, directed by Umberto Lenzi (who also co-wrote the film with Felix Tusell), is a giallo film that almost slavishly follows the established rules of the form. If you know what to expect then you're going to have a lot of fun. If you are looking for some of the best examples, the more stylish and gorgeous ones, then this isn't the film for you.

The premise is simple. A killer starts to slice their way through the tourists who are all on the same coach trip. The killer wears red and has a thing for removing an eyeball from each of his/her victims. Who could be the knife-wielder? Is it Mark Burton (played by John Richardson), a man who thinks his own wife might be the culprit due to his infidelity with Paulette Stone (played by Martine Brochard)? Is it the clergyman who seems to be going out of his way to look more suspicious than most of the other tour group members? It could be anyone, although the list of possible suspects starts to narrow down as the corpses start to pile up.

Although you may struggle to figure out who the killer is, with the exception of viewers who may have an unerring nose for sniffing out culprits, it becomes more and more obvious as Eyeball plays out just who ISN'T the killer. If you're being shown someone close to every murder scene, if they are walking around under a mobile neon sign that says "killer, killer", then it's unlikely to be them. Both the script and direction play up this side of things, with Lenzi clearly setting out to make something fun more than something to be celebrated as a masterclass in tension and horror, and it is all part of the film's charm.

Richardson and Brochard are the leads, both doing decent work for this kind of film (including moments of overacting, of course, and some casual callousness towards others as the situation starts to get worse), George Rigaud is that twitchy and suspicious clergyman, Andres Mejuto is the Inspector trying to find the killer, and the stunning Mirta Miller plays a stunning female photographer. You also get Ines Pellegrini, playing a model being photographed by Miller, Daniele Vargas and Silvia Solar as a married couple, and Marta May as the wronged wife of Richardson's character, as well as quite a few others (special mention to Raf Baldassarre as the leering tour guide, Martinez).

There are so many things that Eyeball isn't. It's not the best giallo, it's not the best Lenzi movie, it's not the best cast, and not even the best film about a killer removing eyeballs from victims. But that doesn't really matter. What matters is that it IS an amusing bit of entertainment from start to finish. You could even say that it's . . . worth keeping an eye out for (bdaump-tsshhhhh).


There's a fine Blu-ray presentation here.
Americans can buy a version of it here.

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