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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Video Beaverhausen: Buddy B Looks Into the Eyes of Laura Mars

"There's nothing I can do about the baggage under those eyes," the make-up artist complained to producer Jon Peters on the set of Eyes of Laura Mars.

Peters bought a spec script from John Carpenter, a "nobody" at the time (1978), putting him on the track to success as a director/screenwriter. But, oy, is this a potboiler! Peters wanted his then-wife Barbra Streisand to star but she read the script and sagely turned it down, saying it was "too sleazy." She agreed, however, to sing the theme song over the ending credits. The song, "Prisoner" was a hit at the time.

Dunaway brought a madness to her Method in this film, not to mention her temperament to the set. She was difficult, had a rocky relationship (to say the least) with Peters, and sent the production well over budget due to her demands, diva attitude and showing up notoriously late on the set -- reputedly hung over from substance abuse the nights before shooting. She kept cast and crew waiting and waiting for hours. And sometimes didn't show up at all.

The hackneyed script is about a fashion photographer who suddenly discovers she has a psychic ability to see through the eyes of a NYC serial killer. This was made in the wake of the Summer of Sam, of course. Absolute exploitation at its nadir.

Eyes of Laura Mars is about as pleasant and as irritating as sitting in a flea pit. The killings are very by-the-book for the serial killer sub-genre. Tommy Lee Jones and young Raul Julia make brilliant film debuts while Brad Dourif is always suspicious in a movie like this. Renee Aberjonois (a Robert Altman fave (MASH, Brewster McCloud, etc.)) is terrific. But, if a woman's gay friend cross-dresses in her clothes and walks out on the street during a serial killer's female murder spree in Manhattan, you know what's going to happen. This is poorly and obviously by-the-numbers plotting.

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