The Movie Waffler Mike's Strange Cinema Cavalcade - EYES OF LAURA MARS | The Movie Waffler

Mike's Strange Cinema Cavalcade - EYES OF LAURA MARS

eyes of laura mars review
A controversial photographer experiences disturbing and violent visions.

Review by Michael Vaughn

eyes of laura mars blu-ray

Mill Creek Entertainment Blu-ray (Available now)

Directed by: Irvin Kershner

Starring: Faye Dunaway, Tommy Lee Jones, Rene Auberjonois, Brad Dourif, Frank Adonis, Lisa Taylor, Steve Marachuk

Laura Mars (Faye Dunaway) is a high-end fashion photographer who's no stranger to bold, provocative work. Her latest project  - titled 'The Eyes of Laura Mars' - has a theme of exploring death in an erotic ‘fashion’, but it seems somebody doesn’t like this. Meanwhile, murders are taking place which bear an eerie similarity to the photographs.

eyes of laura mars review

Enter Detective John Neville (Tommy Lee Jones), who starts to link the murders and the pictures. If this wasn’t enough for you, Laura herself is having psychic visions, where she can actually witness the murders through the killer’s eyes, you know, as one does. To nobody’s surprise, it seems that Laura is on the killer's 'To Kill' list, unless her and Neville can stop him.

It baffles me how you can have so many talented people both in front of and behind the camera, yet get a terrible mess like Eyes of Laura Mars. You have Dunaway, riding a wave of stardom from her role in Network (1976), and future Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner at the helm working on a screenplay by John Carpenter.

eyes of laura mars review

The film has a very troubled history, mainly in the writing department. The script, from the then relatively unknown Carpenter, was totally butchered (leading Carpenter to drop out of directing) and the film would go onto be written and re-written with certain elements made up on the spot. It also didn’t help that tensions were high between Dunaway and the producer, as well as other creative differences behind the scenes. It’s quite clear that all these issues resulted in this total misfire in the thriller genre.

It's painfully obvious that the film had gone through many re-writes, which presents a lot of interesting ideas and themes that all get lost in a middling and kind of dull American giallo. Clearly Kershner has something to say in this movie but it just gets over shadowed by an underwhelmingly plotted mystery that frankly doesn’t ever feel like it gets going. Mix in a silly psychic plot that really only serves to halfheartedly move the story beats along. And don’t get me started on the finale, which was written at the very last minute and brother, does it feel like it.

eyes of laura mars review

It’s a real shame, as the film itself is well directed with a lot of great moody camera work by Victor Kemper (Clue, National Lampoon's Vacation). Kemper really captures a gritty, pre-cleaned up New York, which is in itself a character in the film. I love the idea of a '70s American Italian-giallo inspired film but the thrills are weak and the film suffers from not aging very well, along with zero tension or chemistry between its leads Dunaway and Jones, not to mention a finale that is lame and pretty predictable. Over the top and at times pretty laughable.

Commentary by director Irvin Kershner.

Michael Vaughn is a rabid horror and cult fan who turned that love into a career. He is a writer, blogger and film historian and now author of 'The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema' which Shock Wave Podcast named their pick of the month, and Chris Alexander of Fangoria called “recommended reading.”

His other credits include Scream Magazine, Fangoria and websites like Films in Review and Bloody Flicks(UK). Please follow his Twitter @StrangeCinema65 and Instagram @castle_anger.