Color, 1978, 103 mins. 19 secs.
Directed by Irvin Kershner
Starring Faye Dunaway, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Dourif, Rene Auberjonois, Raul Julia
Indicator (Blu-ray) (UK R0 HD), Sony (DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)

An Eyes of Laura Marsincredible stew of Eyes of Laura Marslate '70s Studio 54 chic, giallo, proto-slasher movie, and perverse fashions, this sinfully entertaining thriller was fairly popular in its day if not quite the box office inferno Columbia Pictures hoped for when it opened in 1978. However, it did earn an substantial fan following thanks to its stylish, wildly indulgent atmosphere and crazy-quilt cast, not to mention a powerhouse theme song by Barbra Streisand whose boyfriend at the time, producer Jon Peters, wanted her to star. Instead the title role went to Faye Dunaway, still riding high from her Oscar win for Network and one of the brightest lights of New Hollywood just before it was about to completely burst the following year.

Controversial photographer Laura Mars (Dunaway) has started suffering from intense visions of a glove-wielding maniac scissoring up her photos and stabbing models to death by gouging out their eyes after invading their apartments. At the release party for her latest book, Laura is told that one of her models has indeed been slaughtered, which casts a pall over her subsequent photo shoots involving violence and semi-nude women. Her run-in at the party with cop John Neville (Jones) turns out to be more than a coincidence since he's investigating the killings and becomes romantically attracted to her, while all of the Eyes of Laura Marsmen in her life including chauffeur Tommy (Dourif at his shaggiest) and agent Donald (Auberjonois at his pissiest) could be possible suspects. As Laura's supernatural Eyes of Laura Marsvisions escalate and the bodies pile up, she begins to fear that she might be the final and most important name on the killer's death list.

Originally written by John Carpenter (yes, that John Carpenter) from story to initial screenplay under the title Eyes, the film underwent numerous significant changes on its way to the screen far beyond the title (including more blood and a very different approach to the love story and whodunit angle). As a mystery it's barely functional and doesn't make a ton of sense, but it hardly matters when there's this much unabashed excess splashing all over the screen in the middle of priceless shots of 1978 Manhattan. Dunaway's performance will be a matter of taste for some viewers with an overamped style that doesn't alway get the best audience response now, but if you snap into the film's aesthetic she's pretty much perfect (apart from an utterly bizarre, improvised Central Park love confession with Jones that dives over the cliff into unintentional hilarity). Not to be overlooked is the roaring soundtrack, one of the best of its era (along with the still tragically MIA Looking for Mr. Goodbar), featuring acts like K.C. and the Sunshine Band and, most memorably, the Michael Zager Band's epic "Let's All Chant."

Regularly available on home video in numerous formats, Eyes of Laura Mars received its first special edition in 2000 on DVD from Sony featuring an audio commentary by Kershner (focused primarily on production aspects including his skill with wrangling New York locations and adapting to one of the many shifts in genre over his career, with this one followed by The Empire Strikes Eyes of Laura MarsBack). Also included on the DVD were "Visions" (7m24s), an entertaining behind-the-scenes vintage featurette with lots of Eyes of Laura Marsshots of Dunaway and the models at work, and "Eyes on Laura Mars" (8m24s), a visual essay by Laurent Bouzereau noting the differences between Carpenter's screenplay and the finished version. In 2014, an HD transfer of the film bowed on the Sony Movie Channel with a severely condensed version of "Visions" aired frequently to fill gaps in the schedule.

In 2017, UK label Indicator finally gave the film its worldwide Blu-ray debut with an expanded package using what appears to be the Sony HD transfer as its centerpiece. The film looks great here if you're familiar with the intended look, a sort of combination of gritty, grainy New York photography with blasts of harsh white light and sometimes gaudy, extravagant color schemes during the photo shoot sequences. The LPCM English mono audio sounds pristine and features optional English SDH subtitles. The Kershner commentary, "Visions" and "Eyes on Laura Mars" are ported over from the DVD, while new insights are provided in "The Eyes Have It" with Kat Ellinger (13m24s) exploring the giallo-esque aspects of the film and its recurring eye motifs in the vein of other titles like Peeping Tom. The theatrical trailer is also included (finally for the first time on any home video release, in great quality), with an option to view it with very enthusiastic Trailers from Hell commentary by David DeCoteau as well, along with an extensive image gallery that's every bit as eye-popping as you'd hope. The limited edition first pressing also sports a liner notes booklet featuring a new Rebecca Nicole Williams essay and a sampling of press coverage and reviews from the film's original theatrical release.

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Reviewed on November 16, 2017.