Eyes of Laura Mars
Irvin Kershner’s stylish, violent cult thriller – from an original screenplay by John Carpenter – stars iconic star Faye Dunaway as glamorous fashion photographer Laura Mars, who begins to experience horrific visions when she ‘sees’ a series of brutal murders as they happen.
Indicator presents a cult favourite, Irvin Kershner’s The Eyes of Laura Mars, on Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this dual-layer disc. The high-definition master used was supplied by Sony. Though a UK release this disc is region free.
Again I’m guessing this is an older master, maybe made for DVD. Details are fine but rarely razor-sharp, finer details just not looking to be as rendered as well as they could be. Film grain is present and looks mostly decent; it can be a bit chunky but it doesn’t look noisy and it lends the image a more filmic look. Its colour scheme rarely pops, made up of lots of autumn colours primarily with a few pops of blue, while black levels can be a bit milky in places crushing out some shadow detail.
Still, I would say it’s a generally good in the end, as is usually the case with Indicator’s titles. Despite those hiccups it’s still very clean and there wasn’t any severe damage, or much of anything at all. The “vision” sequences look a little rough but this is obviously intentional. It’s also smooth in motion and doesn’t present any glaring digital problems. Overall it could be open to improvement but I was still pleased with the final presentation.
The lossless PCM 1.0 monaural doesn’t present any glaring problems other than the fact it has a handful of awful disco tracks that are a little harsh. But fidelity is fine and there is no severe damage present.
I actually didn’t realize this film received a somewhat decent DVD edition back in the early days of the format and it looks as though Indicator has carried everything over, at least by comparing specs, starting with an audio commentary by director Irvin Kershner. This track is a mixed bag ultimately and I’m actually not sure if I liked it. It’s very technical in regards to its look as well as the various rewrites and changes John Carpenter’s original script went through, all of which is interesting, but Kershner can get a bit heavy on describing the film’s metaphors and also comes off a bit self-congratulatory, sometimes gratingly so. Kershner talks about how he didn’t want the film to be a “trick” and have a logical flow, which, okay, I’ll give him points for the most part (as mentioned in the supplements here and elsewhere it is a giallo at heart so there’s still some leaps in logic and the final reveal still takes a bit of forgiveness on the part of the viewer). But he also seems very proud of his misdirection as to who the killer could be. This was a bit harder to give him since most will likely guess the perpetrator rather early on. Still, there’s some good details about the point-of-view shots, the changes to the script, and insights on the fashion industry at the time.
New is an appreciation by critic Kat Ellinger who frames the film as a sort of American giallo film, comparing it to other films of the genre and the themes they share, along with what differentiates it from slashers (which basically started with Laura Mars’ scriptwriter John Carpenter and his film Halloween) that were just becoming popular. I’ve been getting a few crash courses in giallo through a lot of Arrow’s releases lately but this makes for a decent 13-minute primer and may help in building one’s appreciation for this film.
An original 8-minute making-of promo from 1978 for the film called Visions gets carried over from the DVD (it’s your standard promo piece introducing the film’s plot and the cast members), which is then followed by a presentation called Eyes On Laura Mars. It features the original DVD’s producer, Laurent Bouzereau, going over the various drafts of the script over photos from the film. It runs under 8-minutes.
Following the film’s theatrical trailer is a short 4-minute Trailers from Hell feature with David DeCocteau offering his own appreciation of the film, spliced in with the trailer. The disc then closes with a navigable image gallery featuring a number of production photos (a lot from the in-film photo shoots) and theatrical posters.
They’re an okay set of features, Ellinger’s contribution probably being the best of the bunch, but also strong to the release is an included booklet. First there is a lengthy essay on the film (aptly called “Disco Giallo”) by Rebecca Nicole Williams, about its genre influences and production, as well as how it fits into the mold of other New York films of the time. This is then followed by a reprint of a Playboy article on the film and producer Jon Peters, which is a great read, and then a couple of excerpts from favourable critic reviews at the time, one by Richard Combs for Monthly Film Bulletin and the other by Philip French for the Observer. The booklet ends up helping in making up for whatever the other features may be missing.
The film could probably look better but the final image is still pleasing: it does still look like a film and doesn’t have a heavily processed look, still managing to deliver decent detail.