Director: Tobe Hooper
USA - 1993
“The Eye” is not really a film in and of itself; instead, it’s merely one story from Body Bags, a trilogy of tales spun by horror icons John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper.
So, you ask: “Why not review the whole damn movie?”
Well, being that the topic of the roundtable is “Body Parts,” I could not possibly review all three of the segments since only two pertain to the subject - those being “The Eye” and “Hair.” (The latter is about a balding man (Stacy Keach) who undergoes a revolutionary new procedure to once again enjoy the many fruits of a full head of hair. Naturally, revolutionary new procedures in horror films usually come with grave circumstances; this proves to be no exception.)
So, you ask: “Why not review both segments?”
(Sing along with me at home!)
Brent Matthews (Mark Hamill!) is a minor league baseball player. After many years paying his dues as an amateur, it looks like Brent’s hard work is about to pay off with a high dollar contract from The Giants (that’s a major league team, for those of us who are sports challenged).
Naturally, just when the future looks bright, events take a sudden turn for the worse. While driving home from a big game, Brent runs his car into a tree while trying to avoid a deer. Fortunately, another car happens to be passing by at the time of the incident, and its occupants are quick to provide a helping hand. Unfortunately, Brent is pulled from the wreck with a big chunk of glass jutting out from his right eye socket. (We’re reminded how painful this would be when Brent runs his hand over the glass shard and yelps. A word to the wise: Don’t mess with a large glass spike if it’s embedded in your head; especially somewhere mushy.)
Anyway, Our Hero is rushed to the hospital. The next day he awakens to discover that he will, in fact, live to see another day - but only with one eye. After explaining to the doctors that he needs both eyes to hit baseballs (it makes sense when you think about it), the two physicians (John Agar and Roger Corman!) inform Matthews of a revolutionary new procedure where they can transplant a healthy eye from one person to another. As a matter of fact, there just so happens to be a recent donation!
Faster than a seventh inning stretch, Brent agrees to be the guinea pig. The operation turns out to be a success, and Matthews is soon released to go home to his wife, Cathy (Twiggy!). And just when things couldn’t possibly get any peachier, Cathy informs Brent that she’s pregnant!
Oh, happy day! But not for long.
Brent suddenly starts having random, skull-splitting headaches. And with these headaches come horrific hallucinations of dead bodies and disembodied hands. Cathy also begins to notice that her husband isn’t acting quite like his usual jovial self. He’s abusive, short-tempered, and uncharacteristically violent.
In a rare moment of sanity, Brent returns to the hospital to find out what’s happening to him. Can you imagine the surprise when he discovers that the eye donor was not exactly a volunteer? Instead, he was an executed serial killer with a penchant for blondes (not unlike Cathy - the blonde part, that is).
Never saw that coming, did you?
“The Eye” isn’t very good. To be honest, my expectations weren’t very high going in (the consummate pessimist am I). Anyway, despite it not being very good, I still had high hopes of enjoying the movie. The film may be bad, but I happen to enjoy badness. What I don’t enjoy, however, is pretense. “The Eye” simply brims with ridiculous biblical references; of course, they all contain the word “eye” despite how out of context the passage being referenced is utilized. Instead of prodding the viewer to think, it actually provokes them to guffaw uncontrollably, and perhaps throw cheese sticks at the television (the latter being a personal preference).
Tobe, why must this suck so? Like his star, Hooper’s art seems to suffer under the imposing shadow of highly successful prior efforts. Granted, nothing could ever hope of surpassing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but has said film completely sapped Hooper’s talent well? Chainsaw is scary and brilliant; “Eye” is boring and predictable. The closest thing to a scare is the car crash, and that was only because it reminded me of a nasty wreck I had experienced. Mark Hamill is distracted while looking to put in a tape (Bea Arthur’s “Closing Cantina” remix, I presume). I trashed a Ford Tempo while trying to change music. So this scene hit home, but by no doing of Hooper. This must have been kind of surreal for Hamill as well, considering the horrific car crash he survived in the 70’s.
And finally, let’s discuss poor Mark - or, as scientists put it: “The Ham Factor.” Bless his heart, Mark Hamill hasn’t really exploded on the movie scene since that big Sci-Fi adventure flick he made a while back whose title escapes me. Sure, he pops up every now and then (who could forget The Guyver?), but I think it’s safe to assume that his acting career was all downhill from about 1977 on. Nevertheless, I have to give him a strong “A” for effort. Mark gives it the ole college try in his portrayal of a baseball player possessed by a serial killer’s eye; unfortunately, his effort is gravely overshadowed by his talent - or more accurately, lack thereof. It’s no big secret: Mark Hamill couldn’t act his way out of a wet paper bag. He tries, dammit. He feigns a southern drawl; utilizes body talk to accentuate emotion; all those things great actors do. He just sucks. I think Pauly Shore would make a more convincing serial killer. Mark does his best to chew the scenery when the script allows, but only manages some small nibbles.
Let’s just hope he has merchandising royalties to live off of.
- The first excuse for abstaining from sex I’ve heard in regards to being scared of a new eye.
- Mark Hamill philosophizing on science and religion.
- After seeing a bloody hand shoot forth from his sink’s garbage disposal, Brent decides to stick his own hand down there in hopes of finding out what’s going on. I’m sure you would do the same.
- During one hallucination, Brent sees a zombified version of his wife, Cathy. What I found funny was the fact that the zombie wasn’t played by Twiggy; she had a zombie double. Now, I’ve heard of “No Nudity” clauses, but “No Zombies?”
Mark Hamill curled in a crib, crying like an infant. In a word: Bizarre.
- In the finale, Brent struggles with his new appendage and finally opts to kill himself via garden shears (through his troublesome eye, of course). He then falls atop an open Bible and dies; a passage in the Good Book is outlined in blood: “..and if thy right eye offends thee, pluck it out…” Why do I have a feeling that the entire script was based on this phrase (again, taken out of context)? Was that supposed to be the big payoff? One to grow on? Whatever.
(Oh, I guess I should’ve put a spoiler warning before the preceding paragraph. Hope I didn’t spoil this turd for you.)
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