Home Video Hovel: White of the Eye, by David Bax
It would be easy to dismiss White of the Eye (out now on Blu-ray), with its synth-heavy score and bright color palette, as some cheesy relic of the 1980s. But don’t be fooled. The film is from director Donald Cammell, who brought us 1970’s Performance and, perhaps more applicable here, 1977’s “Julie Christie vs. an evil, artificially intelligent house” thriller Demon Seed. This isn’t some dated piece of schlock. This is art horror.
Cathy Moriarty stars as Joan, a housewife in a small Arizona town whose husband, Paul (David Keith), installs high end stereo equipment in rich people’s homes. This makes Paul a suspect in a series of gruesome murders, the victims of which have all been society wives in wealthy enclaves across the state. Joan’s devotion to Paul is tested as she comes closer and closer to figuring what kind of man her husband and the father of her daughter really is.
That’s a deceptively straightforward description of the plot, which in reality is delightfully convoluted. It contains flashbacks, multiple levels of betrayal and adultery, a brain-damaged, unreliable exposition character/would-be hero and a friendly detective who may know more than he’s letting on, to name just a few elements. Cammell’s oscillations between bold grandeur and oblique impressionism don’t make things any easier to follow.
None of that really matters, though. Everything that you need to understand will be clear by the end. In the meantime, White of the Eye is more a sensory experience than a narrative one. From soaring, sweeping aerial shots that establish the setting to the slow motion insert close-ups that detail the brutal and blood-spattered killings, it’s a film well-suited to the possibilities of Blu-ray. On a lesser format, the garish and brilliant colors might bleed or fuzz out. Here, they are striking and vivid, as are the silvery, bleach bypass sections that predate that process’s late 90s/early 2000’s surge in popularity. Everything looks and sounds great. Other than a weak stomach, there’s no real reason not to pick up this disc.
Shout! Factory’s 2K transfer from 35MM is everything you could want from a movie like this. As mentioned above, the movie’s colors deserve to be seen in the best possible presentation. This Blu-ray delivers.
Bonus features include interviews with some of the cast, a commentary by Cammell’s biographer, deleted scenes, an interview with the cinematographer and the fascinating ability to watch the bleach bypass scenes prior to undergoing that process.