The eyes are the theme, and Irvin Kershner states it with a zoom on a photograph for an ocular close-up and locates the prowling killer with a blurry, handheld POV -- the story is John Carpenter's, so the opening of Halloween is felt until Argento's black-gloved hand makes an appearance. An icepick sails into an eyeball, and Faye Dunaway wakes up in her abstractly posh apartment; she's a photographer notorious for pictorials that blend sexuality and brutality, amazons in garter belts splayed in gruesome tableaux mort. She arrives fashionably late for her new exhibition and, amid a flurry of tracking, panning, and craning, discovers that a friend has just been slaughtered, her dream was in reality a vision linking her to the murderer. Tommy Lee Jones, the detective, deems her the "frustrated-voyeur type," while Brad Dourif (scruffy chauffeur), Rene Auberjonois (swishy manager), and Raul Julia (gigolo ex-hubby) provide the suspects, as well as an avid snapshot of New York City circa 1978. The city, itself fecund with tensions, watches from the sidelines in amusement as Dunaway holds faux-chaos in the street, models tugging at each other's hair in front of burning cars; punk lies just beyond the horizon, but for now the soundtrack has to settle for Barbra Streisand. Vision is under constant threat, and the killer's blade eventually aims for the camera's eye and cracks the lens -- the heroine illustrates her condition by positioning herself with back to camera while pointing to her blank video monitor, which surely finds its echo that same year in The Fury ("Imagine that you are in front of a blank movie screen...") What a project for De Palma! Unfortunately, the film has in Kershner an urbane artisan rather than a bedeviled obsessive, polishing off a fair but hollow approximation of an abstruse Fulci giallo. Eye-gouging for the maestro exposes and quakes the fragility of order, for Kershner it's a just fashion fillip, Dunaway looking fab while miming horror to "Shake Your Booty." With Lisa Taylor, and Darlanne Fluegel.
--- Fernando F. Croce