Friday, August 31, 2012

The Headless Eyes (1971)


The Headless Eyes

Written & Directed by Kent Bateman

Arthur Malcolm...Bo Brundin


Struggling artist Arthur Malcolm is forced to commit a little breaking & entering just to make ends meet. Unfortunately, he's not very good at it, and the lady of the house wakes up while he's rifling through the bedroom. She flips her wig, probably mistaking Artist Arthur for Rapist Raphael, and she scoops an eyeball right out of his skull with a tea spoon.

Flash forward two years, and Arthur is now a struggling artist with an eyepatch and a 14-victim body count under his belt. He removes (with a spoon, of course) the eyes of his victims and utilizes them in his artwork. With the city terrified, the police stupefied, and Arthur slipping deeper and deeper into madness, sooner or later, something has got to give.


This low-budget cheapy is light on plot and heavy on lingering, brooding close ups of the murderer's face. The acting is over-the-top, and Arthur's wails of crazed agony really grate on the nerves--as does the screeching, repetitive soundtrack, although I enjoyed the underlying jazz beat. The special effects are as poor as you would expect, and far too much of the grue unfolds just out of frame.


There are some extreme lapses in logic, the foremost of which is how a one-eyed artist whose work revolves around eyeballs and hangs out around crime scenes is not a suspect in the murder cases in which the victim's eyeballs have been removed. The most amusing example, however, regards Arthur's 13th victim, whose corpse is apparently kept in her apartment until the day of her funeral, when she is finally removed in a coffin. If this is how murder is handled in this city, it's no wonder that Arthur is able to get away with his crimes for so long.

There are occasional glimmers of hope in this film, however. The scene in which local citizens are interviewed outside of the aforementioned apartment building is naturalistic and believable. The introduction of Arthur's pretty young protege (far too late in the film) brings with it nice character interactions and (sadly unfulfilled) possibilities. And the low-rent look of the movie actually works in its favor, giving it a slightly-more-believable feel, much as it does for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.


I was bored senseless for the first 15 minutes or so and almost turned the flick off, but 30 minutes in I was interested, and at the one hour mark I couldn't wait to see how they wrapped it up in the remaining 17 minutes. In the end, it's really not bad at all (as far as bad movies go), and fans of Driller Killer would probably enjoy it as well. It's a fun and sleazy, albeit not outstanding, entry in the strange Mad Artist subgenre of horror.

I don't think it has ever received a legitimate DVD release, so you'll have to keep your eyes peeled for an inexpensive VHS copy. You do still have a VCR, don't you?

1971
Rated X (supposedly)
78 Minutes
Color
English
United States

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