Archive for the ‘violence’ Tag

Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)   2 comments

 

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Laura Mars might need a new eyeglass prescription.  Every so often, and without notice, she sees the world through the eyes of a serial killer.  Laura (Faye Dunaway) earns her living with her eyes.  She’s a high fashion photographer who specializes in photographing models wearing beautiful clothes in violent situations.

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The film uses Helmut Newton’s photographs as Laura’s.

She lives in a huge, penthouse apartment, wears expensive clothes, and goes to all the best parties.  Laura’s photographs and coffee table books sell like hotcakes.  She’s on top of the world.  When someone starts killing her friends, Laura’s life changes just a bit.

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Great lips.

At first, the police, led by Detective John Neville (Tommy Lee Jones) suspect that Laura is killing her associates to gain publicity for her artwork, especially when she tells them that she sees the murders…from three blocks away.  She claims to witness each crime as the murderer would.  Both authorities and her friends think she’s a loon.

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“What you talkin’ ’bout, Laura?”

I should point out that all this time, Faye Dunaway sports some happening duds.  It’s autumn in New York City and Faye’s got the tweed thing going on.  She wears a lot of cool mid-calf wool skirts with double front slits and high boots.  She also has the plaid shawl thing down.  Theoni V. Aldredge designed the costumes.  Well done, Theoni!  Clad in tight, bell-bottoms, boots, and wool blazers, Tommy Lee Jones cuts a dashing figure.  Even his mullet is impressed.

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The sheep are nervous.

The seventies lives through the music in the film as well.  Tunes by K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Heatwave, Michael Zager Band, and Odyssey give the modeling sessions a Studio 54 vibe.

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After a few more bodies pile up, Laura convinces John that she’s not crazy so they fall in love after a funeral.  Sigh.  Now that the pair are a completely committed couple destined to spend their lives together, we can all relax, right?  Wrong.  Hey guys!  There’s still a killer out there playing ice pick tag.

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“I just remembered.  All my friends are dead.”

I like EYES OF LAURA MARS.  I hadn’t seen it in 432 years and seeing it again was a trip.  Did you know it was written by John Carpenter?  I didn’t.  The cool set-pieces and shots of gritty, 1970s New York give the film texture and the cast is wonderful.  Raul Julia gets to play Laura’s alcoholic gigolo of an ex-husband and he’s perfect.  Rene Auberjonois, as Laura’s handler/manager does his usual terrific job.  I like Brad Dourif in this too.  As Laura’s mumbling, semi-sketchy driver, Dourif is convincing as a guy who’s polite on the surface, but might have a head in his fridge.

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“You looked in my fridge?”

Tommy Lee Jones is pretty hunky in this role.  My daughter said, “He’s so ugly, he’s cute.”

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“I’m not ugly.”

He’s likable, intelligent, and deeper than he seems.  Dunaway plays her part well.  She’s a bit over the top, but it works.  What doesn’t exactly work is her character.  Laura Mars, a wealthy, powerful, career woman who takes sexually charged and violent pictures seems sort of shy and virginal.  A few times in the film, people remark that she’s not at all what they expected when they saw her photographs.  It’s like they have to say she’s not really like that  as a way of making the audience like her.  Oh well.

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“The game is afoot!”

All in all, EYES OF LAURA MARS is a satisfying watch.  Carpenter’s story has a fun central idea and the performances are fun.  Oh right.  The song.  Jon Peters made his bones producing the Kristofferson/Streisand film A STAR IS BORN and this film.  A former hairdresser, Peters dated Barbra Streisand during this period and the two made a few successful films together.  Back to the song.  “Prisoner”, sung by Streisand at the beginning and end of the film is a perfect showcase for that voice.  She hits every note bang on.  I know what you’re thinking, but you have to admit, the woman can sing.

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“You shoulda seen it!”

EYES OF LAURA MARS stands out because of its creative concept and solid performances.  It has no castles or bats, but it does have the main character’s friends getting stabbed in the eye, so huzzah!

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More plaid.

haunty

Deathgasm (2015)   Leave a comment

deathgasm poster

Brodie’s mom is out of town. Actually, she’s serving a stretch for a meth-induced sexual assault on a shopping mall Santa. His mom’s indiscretions force Brodie to live with his aunt and uncle who he describes as “balls deep into Jesus Christ”. It doesn’t go well.

Brodie (Milo Cawthorne), a self-described metal head, wears leather and studs and listens to Skullfist and Nunslaughter. He doesn’t fit into life in the boondock suburbs of New Zealand until he meets Giles, Dion, and Zakk. Together, the four outcasts form a band. When they find a piece of music that summons demons to earth, the teenagers and their friend Medina (Kimberley Crossman) have to battle their newly demonic neighbors to gain control of their town and send the evil beings back to hell.

Part Carrie, part Footloose, and part Shaun of the Dead on steroids, Deathgasm tells the story of a lonely outsider who decides impulsively to take revenge on all the people who’ve mistreated him by using satanic powers to wreak havoc on his town. You know, Tuesday.

Like the title character in Carrie, we get to know Brodie and we like him. He has tattoos and 8 Foot Sativa posters and he’s a bit of a smartass, but he’s a sweet guy. Listening to death metal takes him out of his sad existence.

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Brodie’s heavy metal daydreams.

Unfortunately, it also unleashes evil forces which threaten to end all life on earth. Love, loyalty, betrayal, and sacrifice all play parts in this story of high school angst and zombies.

Director Jason Lei Howden keeps the pace brisk and the extreme violence comical in his first full-length feature. You have to love a film in which the main character chainsaws his aunt, kills a half naked zombie with a weed wacker, and beats his uncle to death with a marital aid. I like that Brodie and Zakk (James Blake) weren’t all good or all bad and that Medina, though blond, had a brain. She could also handle an axe like a lumberjack.

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Medina takes no prisoners.

Deathgasm moves fast and doesn’t always go where you think it will. I cared about the kids and hoped they’d vanquish the newly demonic. The cast, who were all new to me, did a terrific job portraying misfits forced to save the world. The music fit perfectly and the broad slapstick humor worked. A few scenes stood out. After shooting a video for their new band, the eponymous Deathgasm, Brodie runs into his crush, Medina, who asks him to have an ice cream with her. Brodie and Medina sit on a park bench and enjoy their cones with Brodie in full heavy metal makeup. It’s funny and sweet. Another favorite scene has the math teacher, newly zombified, facing a pretty fresh-faced girl and vomiting blood on her for a reeeaaaallly long time. Disgusting, yes, but also funny.

Deathgasm is creative and funny. It tells a story of teen friendship and love set against a backdrop of heavy metal music and satanic undead killers. Brutal, man.

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Awww.

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