If you're a wealthy, attractive woman, stay out of Arizona, because you are fair game. A twisted killer is on the loose and he tortures and dissects his beautiful victims as part of a primitive Indian ritual. All the clues lead to one man who is clearly innocent. But nothing is as simple as black and white in White Of The Eye.
In the film, WHITE OF THE EYE, it appears that several wealthy ladies are turning up dead in Arizona. With the bodies piling up, Detective Charles Mendoza and his team are put on the trail of the elusive killer. While leads are initially sparse, they come to believe that the deaths bear the markings of an old Native American ritual. They also come to be suspicious of a local common man, named Paul. Paul is a man who lives in a sleepy desert town, who works as a sound, and stereo technician. He lives there with his wife, Joan and their daughter, Danielle. He's an everyday, ordinary guy, he couldn't be capable of vicious murder - or so Mendoza thinks. However, no matter how much Mendoza doesn't want to believe it, the evidence seems to speak for itself. As evidence mounts against him, Paul desperately attempts to prove his innocence, however, when their relationship starts to strain, Joan begins to become suspicious of her husband, and starts to believe that the police may not be so wrong after all. As Joan's curiosity leads her to question things, what she does find, is quite unfathomable.
Ok, first things first, I have to say that this review will be a short one. Why? Because it is a film that left me empty of any imagination. Something that I feel that the script for the film clearly lacks. WHITE OF THE EYE is a film that I had heard of for years, but had never seen. It's also a film, which I, for whatever reason, thought was an Italian Giallo film, which is funny, because if it was, perhaps it would have a plausible excuse to just how nonsensical it is.
In reading things said about the film, it seems that the reaction for WHITE OF THE EYE has been mixed. Some like it, some don't. Unfortunately, I happen to be of the latter audience. With the film, Director Donald Cammell employed a number of filming styles, resulting in a film that is mostly stylish. The film opens up with a murder scene, which consists of a scene, showing a woman being viciously killed. This scene is spliced with another scene of a fish in a fish bowl, struggling to get air - thus symbolizing the struggle to live, which is symbolic, in that a woman is being killed. This clever opening scene initially showed promise of what may or may not be coming. Unfortunately, beyond this scene which showed promise, the rest of the film which followed is not much more than a stylized, yet muddled mess. It is clear that Cammell was more concerned with the film's presentation, rather than the film's script, when it comes to making sense. Now, I know what your saying, sometimes it's not the fault of the Director. But when said Director had a hand in writing the script(along with his wife), it is indeed is. The story itself, essentially gets lost in the film's over saturated style. Sure, the film looks fantastic, and I like the idea of implementing various styles into one film, but what good is it, when said style, basically buries the story? If Cammell was this focused on the look of things, he should have made a visual art film, instead of a film which also tries to be all things; Slasher film, murder mystery, and relationship drama. Yes, there is a lot of things that go on in WHITE OF THE EYE, unfortunately. about the only things of merit is the film's artistic approach, and the music.
None of the characters here are exactly relatable. From the main characters, to the victims(one of which is incapacitated with a piledriver. Never have I seen the Pro Wrestling move in a film - that i'm aware of), one never truly connects with any of them. Part of the film deals with the marriage turmoil between Paul(David Keith) and Joan(Cathy Moriarty), while the other side deals with the Police's pursuit of the killer. And oh yeah, there is also an element of some kind of Native American supernatural goings on, they are different elements that seem to have just been thrown together, than formed together cohesively. No matter how good anyone is here, the performances essentially get lost in all of the stylized chaos. Everyone is decent, yet the viewers are just too distracted to give them the necessary attention.
I went into WHITE OF THE EYE, thinking it had potential. I mean, a killer is terrorizing Arizona, killing off wealthy women, and in the midst of it all, a local stereo expert is fingered for crimes that he may, or may not have committed? It had the potential to be something good. But unfortunately, as a film, WHITE OF THE EYE comes off more like a Director's experiment, rather than a cohesive film. There are a lot of plot points, and a lot of styles going on within, however, collectively none of these things can quite come together all at once.
The film is released as a Blu-Ray DVD combo pack from SCREAM FACTORY. Before the film plays, a message tells us that the presented 2K HD transfer comes from the good folks at ARROW VIDEO in the UK. The message also forewarns us that the multiple changes in quality throughout the film, are the product of the Director's use of multiple shooting styles, and are not from the transfer itself. Overall, the presentation is nice and crisp, and ripe with color. In certain scenes there is intentional grain, while in flashback scenes, the film takes on a more "Bleached" look, where the picture shows high contrast. This was something that Donald Cammell chose to do, to add style to these particular scenes. It's a nice look, however, sometimes scenes do seem to run together, as there are times that it is difficult to tell if the scene is in the past or present. The release features several interviews, deleted scenes with commentary, an alternate title sequence, as well as the film's flashback scenes as they were before the "bleaching process".
Details for the features are as follows :
"Into the White - Filming WHITE OF THE EYE" (11m)
In this interview the film's Director of Photography Larry McConkey, details how he was hired by Cammell, what it was like working with the eccentric Director, and how he was actually one or two Photographer hired for the shoot at the same time(the two eventually compromised and agreed to both work on the film).
"Into the Void" (17m 51s)
Here, Actor Alan Rosenberg also recalls working with the Director, and the rest of the film's cast and crew.
"Eye of the Detective" (15m 36s)
In this interview Actor Art Evans also talks Director Donald Cammell, and adds how the Director wanted him so badly, that Cammell actually paid off the actor that he had already cast in the role of Detective Charles Mendoza. He also details how he was filming another movie at the time that he was also working on WHITE OF THE EYE.
Deleted Scenes (5m 31s)- with commentary by Donald Cammell Biographer, Sam Umland
These scenes consist of nearly 6 minutes of footage removed from the film. The scene are all that exists from this footage, as all production audio has since been lost. Because of this, we are guided through these scenes with a commentary by Cammell Biographer, Sam Umland.
Alternate Credits Sequence (2m 27s)
Bleach Bypass Sequences (11m 50s)
These included scenes are pretty self explanatory, in that they are the raw flashback scenes, prior to the "bleach" color effect having been applied.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
WHITE OF THE EYE is a film that reminds me a lot of the film, VISITING HOURS. Both films had a nice idea, and look to them, yet the plot for both was poorly executed. However, with WHITE OF THE EYE, it's much worse. It starts off well, only to settle into a dull pace, as the film becomes more a show of visuals than a film with an actual plot to follow. The film appears to have its fans, but unfortunately I can't say that I am one.
Special Features include :
- NEW Into The Vortex An Interview With Actor Alan Rosenberg
- NEW Eye Of The Detective An Interview With Actor Art Evans
- Audio Commentary By Donald Cammell Biographer Sam Umland
- Deleted Scenes With Commentary By Sam Umland
- Into The White - An Interview With Cinematographer And Steadicam Operator Larry McConkey
- Alternate Credit Sequence
- Flashback Sequences Prior To The Bleach Bypass Process