Gialloween Day 22: Eyeball
It seems as though my prayers have been answered. Could Eyeball be the first Lenzi I’ve actually…enjoyed? A more “light-hearted & fun” giallo in the line of some other films in our Gialloween series like The Case of the Bloody Iris or Death Walks at Midnight, we finally get a chance for Lenzi to have some schlocky fun. On the other hand, it could be a case where Lenzi has taken himself so seriously, it manages to cross the over the top threshold into pure, so-bad-it’s-good territory b-movie delight. I think it’s a little of both, but whatever it is, it is good to know the last Lenzi film in our series is a win and not a stinker.
A killer in red gloves and a raincoat terrorizes a group of tourists on a bus by gouging out their eyeballs. Boom. Done. It’s such a simple plot, and trying to describe it anymore may take away from its simplicity. Simplicity, I think is the key to my enjoyment of this over the other giallo in Lenzi’s filmography. Place a group of tourists in this location, ‘oh no one of them has been killed’, present possible red herrings, ‘oh well let’s move to the next stop’— rinse and repeat. Why do they keep getting back on the bus if the murders keep happening? Doesn’t matter, cue the theme music to the next stop.
Simplicity also allows for moments of humor to come through. The film’s theme, bombastic and loud, is definitely an ear worm. The thing is though, this is most of the music that comprises the film! Somber parts when the crimes are being investigated are backed by a hilariously slowed down version of the theme song. Many films do this well and undetected, but luckily for Lenzi, the themes opening notes are so distinctive it takes all the seriousness intended out of the mood and replaces with pure silly camp. I love it.
Most of the murder sequences are surprisingly tame. A more skilled director, or rather, a film with a bigger budget, could have really emphasized the gore and eye removal of the murders. However the kills are played rather tame to the film’s advantage. The “just gruesome enough” kills allow the film to keep its light and silly tone (intended or not) through out. Even if they try to play it straight, there is one scene where one of the characters does the whole, “let’s close the eyes of the victim because it’s the right thing to do” but since the victim only has one eye, the whole pay respect to the dead gesture is again blown apart by it’s silliness.
The ending of the film and reveal of the killer was great not only because it was surprising / nasty, but also because there are so many damn red herrings. By the time it comes, the film has pinned everyone as a plausible suspect, and even if you aren’t invested in the story, you will be invested in finding out the killer and motive.
I can see Eyeball possibly joining Iris to the ‘party giallo’ club if there was one. While not as visually glamorous as Iris, Eyeball provides plenty of its own charm that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but a welcome change of pace from all the cerebral, more serious films that we all love, but definitely need a break from every now and then.