Thursday, July 9, 2015
THROUGH NAKED EYES (1983), COOL IT BABY (1967)
FRYEAN MYTHOS: *drama*
CAMPBELLIAN FUNCTIONS: *psychological*
I don't remember what review called the TV-film THROUGH NAKED EYES "Hitchcockian." I assume the reviewer was merely asserting that EYES had duplicated some of the content seen in the work of Hitchcock: specifically, the content of scopophilic activities, in which a person takes perverse pleasure in viewing another person without the latter's knowledge. Certainly it seems improbable that anyone would think that EYES even reaches the quality-level of even bad Hitchcock.
Still, EYES-- directed by efficient journeyman John (NIGHT STALKER) Llewellyn Moxey and written by Jeffrey (BLOOD BEACH) Bloom-- does earn points for presenting scopophilic desire in not just one, but in both of its romantic leads. William Parrish, a gifted professional flautist living in a New York high-rise, begins turning his binoculars at a female in a neighboring building-- only to find that she's also watching him, through a telescope. This might lead to nothing more than a "meet-cute," except for the fact that New York is being menaced by a random slasher who kills both men and women. When one of the deaths takes place in Parrish's building, a gung-ho cop gets the idea that because Parrish is a little odd and withdrawn, he may be the killer. The rather mundane killer is finally disclosed by the film's end, but just like the never-seen killer in Hitchcock's THE LODGER, he largely functions as a device to put the romantic couple through the wringer.
EYES is a decent time-waster, but doesn't stand up to scrutiny. The scopophilia angle isn't much more than a plot-gimmick, though it is sometimes suggested that the couple's perversion is their own business, as long as they're not harming anyone. Parrish has some daddy issues, but it's not clear how they developed, while female lead Anne Walsh is little more than a cypher. It doesn't help that stars David Soul and Pam Dawber give at best serviceable performances. Perhaps the most Hitchcockian touch about EYES is that the cops are not presented as saviors. Indeed, the suspicious police sergeant who persecutes Parrish comes off as more reprehensible than the murderer.
COOL IT BABY is one of many dumb, pseudo-journalistic "tell-all" films that's little more than an excuse for a parade of titillating scenes involving lesbian sex, dirty pictures, and sadism. COOL's only relevance to metaphenomenal cinema is that one of the forbidden activities is a sex-cult that intends to sacrifice nubile women. Though the sacrificial cult is only seen twice, both times in very brief scenes, I had to consider whether or not the slight eeriness of these scenes made this a film of the "marginal metaphenomenal." But since the sex-cult is just a side-act for all the morbidly mundane sexcapades, I tend to dismiss the slight *frisson*of the sacrificial-altar scenes as being overruled by the naturalism of the rest of the film. I encountered a similar viewing phenomenon in the 2000 made-for-video flick ROAD RAGE, which briefly seemed to suggest a "killer truck" like that of the classic DUEL-- yet in context, that film, like COOL IT BABY, clearly favored an unvarnished naturalistic explanation for the apparent weirdness