Monday 24 March 2014

White of the Eye (1987)

Donald Cammell’s intriguing art house take on the slasher genre gets a smart Blu-ray release from Arrow Films that includes a wealth of extras that should please any fan of this fascinating picture.
Someone with a touch of the Argentos is murdering wealthy housewives in Tucson, Arizona. While we don’t get to see who the killer is until the final act, the police aren’t exactly baffled and there are few possibilities as to who it might actually be. The main suspect is Paul White (David Keith), who spends his days installing high-priced bespoke audio equipment for rich clients. 
      Paul’s jeep has the same tyres as the tread marks found at the first murder, and he may or may not be boffing local sexy bored housewife Ann Mason (Alberta Watson) when a second victim is trussed up and drowned in her bathtub. Paul’s wife Joan (Cathy Moriarty) isn’t happy, and has recently encountered old lover Mike Desantos (Alan Rosenberg), now out of prison and working at a local gas station. Through flashbacks we learn of how Paul stole Joan away from Mike, and then, in true giallo style, through further flashbacks closer to the end we learn what actually happened between the two men. 
WHITE OF THE EYE runs for 110 minutes, and for the first hour or so, bar a couple of very stylish murders that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Dario Argento’s TENEBRAE, it’s more of a study of its three leads and their life in the often alien-feeling landscape of the bleak Arizona desert. It’s in the last half an hour that the film really kicks into gear and everything goes crazy. It’s possible that everyone knows who the killer is by now but if you’ve not seen the film before (and I’ll confess I hadn’t before watching Arrow’s Blu-ray) then I’m not going to spoil if for you.

Arrow’s Blu-ray transfer retains a good amount of grain in the image, especially in the flashback sequences, and I’m sure this is deliberate. As mentioned above, the disk boasts a wealth of extras. There’s a commentary track from Cammell biographer Sam Umland, a feature length documentary - The Ultimate Performance - that details Cammell’s life and work and features interviews with the director as well as Nic Roeg, Mick Jagger and James Fox. The Argument is a short film set in the Utah desert made by Cammell in 1972 and photographed by Vilmos Zsigmond. There are also deleted scenes (with commentary), the flashback scenes as shot before they underwent processing, a trailer, an alternate credits sequence and new artwork, some of which is illustrated here. Finally, a collector’s booklet provides new writing on the film by Brad Stevens and Sam Umland, as well as a previously unpublished piece from the memoirs of producer Elliott Kastner (and how I would love to read all of those).
           Once again Arrow have come up trumps with a superb presentation of an underrated and often ignored thriller from one of Britain’s most interesting directors. Very well done, chaps.

Arrow Films are releasing Donald Cammell's WHITE OF THE EYE on dual format Blu-ray & DVD, and special edition dual format Blu-ray & DVD Steelbook on 31st March 2014

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