‘Eyes of Laura Mars’ is a Giallo-Esque Treasure Ready for Re-Discovery [Watch]

Eyes of Laura Mars

Welcome to The Overlook Motel, a place where under-seen and unappreciated films are given their moment in the spotlight. I hope you enjoy your stay here and find the accommodations to be suitable. Now, please take a seat and make yourself comfortable, I have some misbehaving guests to ‘correct’. 

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The 1970s are a cinematic sweet spot for me. So many of my favorite feature films emerged from that era. The giallo exports of Italy were being produced with great regularity and the output of that timeframe had a gritty look and feel that I cannot get enough of. There’s something quite intoxicating about it. 

With that said, it’s my great pleasure to be showcasing another ‘70s treasure in this installment of The Overlook Motel. Eyes of Laura Mars is a thrilling and unpredictable effort that serves up an unpredictable narrative and a fierce leading lady. If you’re not sold yet, allow me to mention that the film counts the legendary John Carpenter as a screenwriter. 

Also Read: ‘Coma’ (1978) Delivers an Intense Story With a Fierce Lead [The Overlook Motel]

Eyes of Laura Mars follows the titular character, a controversial photographer who has come to prominence by juxtaposing high fashion photography with violent visuals. When Laura Mars begins experiencing strange hallucinations connected to real-life murders, she comes to realize she has a connection to a deranged psychopath with an axe to grind. Accordingly, the photographer teams with the authorities in the hopes of clearing her name and bringing the true perpetrator to justice. 

Perhaps my favorite aspect of Eyes of Laura Mars is that it works as something of an American-made giallo. A few aspects that give this flick major Italian horror energy include the setup of an amateur detective setting out to clear her name; the themes of sexual dysfunction; the gloved killer whose POV we see through; and the denouement that reveals a core cast member to be the deranged killer. All things considered, this underrated effort gives off major giallo energy.  

Also Read: ‘Running Scared’ (2006) is a Brutal Neo-Exploitation Effort [The Overlook Motel]

Much of that Italian horror energy comes courtesy of a script by John Carpenter and David Zelag Goodman. But director Irvin Kershner brings their screenplay to life with sleazy aplomb. The shots from the POV of the killer are giallo-esque, realized in an unsettling and grimy fashion with a surreal sensibility that makes watching the film feel like a voyeuristic experience. Kershner puts the viewer in the driver’s seat, whittling away at the separation between the audience and the antagonist. 

Influences aside, the film also benefits from a great performance by its leading lady. Faye Dunaway brings fragility to the role. She initially appears hardened, likely from being routinely attacked by the media and critics. But the more we get to know Laura, the more we see glimpses of her true self. Most of the credit for that performance belongs to Dunaway, who has always been a talented thespian. But she’s someone that works best with a director that knows when to rein her in and when to let her run wild. And Kershner seems to have a keen understanding of scaling back Dunaway’s intensity when called for. 

Also Read: ‘Cold Prey II’ is a Brutal Snowy Sequel Equal To The Original [Watch]

Eyes of Laura Mars is a film that reminds the audience that, like beauty, art is in the eye of the beholder. The titular character’s photographs challenge convention and prove that art can (and should) be controversial. There is certainly a case to be made for the work of the titular character being exploitative of women. And being a man, I can’t offer the final word on that. But my take is that seeing that type of imagery from the perspective of a female character allows for more nuanced commentary on gender and the female experience. In fact, Laura actually weighs in on this at one point in the film. 

All in all, Eyes of Laura Mars is a gritty and thrilling good time that is ready to be rediscovered by a new generation. If you’re game to check it out, you can watch it free (with ads) on Tubi as of the publication of this post. 

Thanks for checking in to The Overlook Motel. If you’re keen to chat more about under-seen and unloved films, feel free to hit me up with your thoughts on Twitter @FunWithHorror!



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