21 November 2011 | tomgillespie2002
Nothing to give Argento and Fulci sleepless nights, but worth a watch
A tour bus carrying a handful of archetypal American tourists is making its way around Barcelona, hosted by an eccentric and sleazy tour guide. Mark Burton (John Richardson) has taken his mistress along with him who he is telling everyone is his secretary. Amongst the others in the group, there's a hip lesbian couple, a fun-seeking young daughter, a couple with a bit of an age difference, and a priest. They are all handed red raincoats to protect them from the torrential Spanish rain, when one of them is murdered by being repeatedly stabbed and having their eye removed. Burton suspects his ex-wife, who is apparently in Barcelona. Soon the tour group are being picked off by this mysterious, red-raincoat wearing psychopath.
My experience with Italian giallo director Umberto Lenzi is only limited at current. The only other work I've seen of his is the rather bad Video Nasty, Cannibal Ferox (1981). From what I've read, his work seems to be up and down, as is the case with the majority of the prolific Italian horror directors of his era. Eyeball, surprisingly, is not bad. It is, of course, unoriginal, cheesy, unsurprising, and rips-off horror master Dario Argento something rotten. Lenzi also makes the strange decision to have the murders take place in broad daylight, in public view. But it's also quite fun, and has a premise that is enjoyably ridiculous and a climatic revelation that blows it out of the water.
Giallos often don't make sense. Even some of the best works in the sub- genre, for example Argento's excellent Tenebrae (1982) is so mind- f*****g and far-fetched that it just makes the whole experience that much better. I wouldn't go that far in the case of Eyeball, but Lenzi's sheer audacity come the climax made me chuckle, and gave the film that all-important charm. The murder scenes are filmed rather badly with no effort made for set-piece or tension, but there's plenty of enjoyment to be had here. Lenzi clearly knows this as he even throws a bonus lesbian scene in the middle, seemingly just for the hell of it, and there's plenty of humour that comes from the mismatched band of characters. Nothing to give Argento and Fulci sleepless nights then, but for fans of giallo and Grindhouse, definitely worth a watch.