Eyeball has been quite an elusive film for me. I would call Umberto Lenzi one of my favorite directors and anytime I stumble upon a film of his that I have never seen, it is almost always a pleasure. Based on the poster art of the skeleton holding the eyeball, I wasn't really sure what kind of film it would be. It instantly brought to mind Faces of Death but Eyeball is a Giallo through and through. It has all the tropes - the blank faced killer covered head to toe to conceal their identity, copious amounts of nudity, bloody killings, a strange twist at the end to reveal the killer's motives, several red herrings and lastly, a great score - this time by Morricone's right hand man, Bruno Nicolai.
Eyeball centers around a tour group of Americans visiting Barcelona. This group of oddballs includes a priest, an older couple, a man and his daughter (or maybe it's his granddaughter, I forget), a lesbian couple and a woman who meets up with her lover. The lover, played by John Richardson - the only actor I recognized from the film, is cheating on his wife, who just checked herself into a psych ward in Burlington, Vermont. I must stop here and mention how bonkers it was that the characters kept referring to Burlington, Vermont. What a fucking weird place to constantly mention. Maybe it was Lenzi's American vacation spot? Or maybe the good town of Burlington, Vermont somehow paid the producers to use the name? But anyway, after a rain storm, all of the vacationers are given red raincoats by the tour guide. Sorry, but I must stop again. What is up with this tour guide? He is OBSESSED with playing practical jokes. And he thinks they are fucking HILARIOUS! They aren't good practical jokes either, just like crappy wind-up mice. Dude, get a friend. Anyway, someone starts stalking the tour group, disguising themselves in one of the red raincoats (that somehow covers their face too? Couldn't figure that one out). But the stalker not only kills its victims, but prefaces the murders with cutting out their victim's eyeball. An experienced police detective, days away from retiring, is on the hunt to end the killing spree.
Eyeball, also known as The Eye in the Dark, Red Cats in a Glass Maze and the terribly titled The Secret Killer, is one wacky film. It delivers the goods that any Giallo fan would hope for but also features one of the strangest group of characters that I've seen. These people are so quirky, that it makes for a fascinating watch with some truly terrible dialogue. But I wasn't bored watching this film for even a second. Its a fun film that flies by quickly. Oddly, I didn't see many familiar faces, but the cast were all perfect for their roles. I would definitely recommend Eyeball for all Giallo, Slasher and 70s Horror fans.
Fun Facts -
-This film was released the same year as Lenzi's gritty Polizio classic Manhunt in the City,
starring Henry Silva, with a score also by Bruno Nicolai
-Lenzi directed several Gialli, including Orgasmo (aka Paranoia), Spasmo, So Sweet...
So Perverse, Seven Blood Stained Orchids, Knife of Ice and A Quiet Place to Kill
-Eyeball was released in a large clamshell VHS by Prism Entertainment in 1985.