Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Glam World of 1978: Eyes Of Laura Mars

Greetings, fellow Fashion Victims! After extended wanderings, I have returned to regale you with more horror film costumery.

I was recently on tour doing costumes for a ballet company. During late nights in some of the duller towns and hotels, I indulged myself with play-on-demand movies. One of them was this golden oldie slasher-thriller from 1978.

Man, I loved Eyes of Laura Mars when I was an impressionable young teen. I thought it was super creepy and exciting. Photographer who portrays scenes of fashion and violence can suddenly see through eyes of slasher killer who is systematically stalking her and taking out all of her closest pals. AWESOME.

Now, in my dotage, I just find it sort of hilariously campy, although it is quite a slab of fashion history. Seriously, the outfits in this thing veer wildly from fabulous to horrifying and back to fab again.

One thing you can say about Faye Dunaway, she does have the amazing ability to flare her eyes like she's trying to hypnotize prey.

Also, great legs. And her split skirt ensemble is not only practical, it shows that feature off to incredible advantage.

I do NOT have great legs, nor have I ever, but damn I wanted a few split skirts after I saw this movie. 'Course, I also heartily embraced the Flashdance fashion trend, so that about sums it up for my clothing sense during that time.

I also love very much how Dunaway's character can go from ultraglam... Valium-soaked frump.

Plus she has one of the kinkiest bedrooms ever.

Her fashion models are no slouch either. Here's the famed "car crash" photo shoot, filmed in Columbus Circle:

You just can't go wrong with fur and lingerie, can you? And check out that crimp job on the center model.

Anyway, Laura's closest associate is this guy, the poor man's less comedic Gene Wilder. His hair is more feathered than Farrah Fawcett's.

His character's name is Donald, which makes for several utterly marvelous scenes in which a terminally freaked-out Dunaway races down hallways in her knee-high suede boots, calling "DOOOOOOOOOONAAAAAAAAALD!!!" in a voice like a foghorn.

Imagine a Tallulah Bankhead-style drag queen saying "Hello daaaaaahling" and you will get an impression of how Dunaway's voice sounds. It's like she's taken several hits of Nyquil after smoking for about a year.

Her love interest, by the way, is Tommy Lee Jones.

Anyone who has seen Jones' work AFTER he did this film will have a wonderful time seeing him emote in turtlenecks, mega-flared trousers, and rockstar hair.

Oh yeah, there's also Brad Dourif as everyone's favorite scuzzball. He's Laura's driver, and if you can't figure that out from the plot, he is wearing a hat that will remind you.

You know, originally this was supposed to be a Barbra Streisand vehicle, but she backed out because the subject matter was "too kinky." Guess she didn't like Laura's bedroom either.

She did do the theme song, though.

Don't get me wrong, I still love Eyes of Laura Mars. It's just that while watching it, I couldn't decide if it was all wonderfully glam and marvy, or whether I should be laughing myself sick at the high melodrama of it all.

Ultimately, I did both.


The Vicar of VHS said...

Yay for the return of the Fashion Victim, and the Costuminatrix! We've missed you!

I remember being creeped out by EoLM as a kid as well--it must just have that certain vibe that kids and other small animals react to, like an impending storm or a nearby vampire. I haven't seen it in years, though.

One thing's for sure--if you're going to have a bedroom like that, you'd better not only be convinced that you're a good-lookin' piece of flesh, but also that you will never ever ever bring an ugly partner back for funtime frolic. Because that would be bad, times A MILLION.

Tommy Lee Jones--why was he never the teen heartthrob, I wonder?

Tenebrous Kate said...

Oh my gosh--I LOVE this movie and I'm SO glad you posted this write-up! You're spot-on about the fact that the movie can be seen as a creepy thriller as well as a camp classic. The fashion stuff is incredible, and "Eyes of Laura Mars" is a great nod to some of the Euro-thriller stuff of the early 70s (and is, in fact, quite a bit BETTER than its contemporaries in that arena). Great stuff!

The Costuminatrix said...

Vicar: It really does have sort of a bite to it. Yes, it's totally campy in places, and sometimes it's hard to watch Dunaway swallow whole chunks of the scenery without laughing....but EoLM was one of those late-night flicks that I wasn't supposed to be up watching as a kid and I had nightmares about it. Hah, maybe that's why - the added guilt of disobeying parental orders.

And Tommy Lee - he had quite the bad boy charm in this one.

TKate: EoLM could be considered an American giallo, right? It does seem to have a "Blood and Black Lace" vibe to it, but maybe that's just the fashion element.