White of the Eye (1987)


A series of grisly murders rocks the area of Tucson, Arizona. Beautiful women have been found mutilated in their homes, some with parts missing. As Detective Mendoza (Art Evans) investigates the crime, his attention becomes quickly drawn to Paul White (David Keith), a local sound engineer that works in the area. As the finger of suspicion keeps getting pointed at Paul, he protests his innocence, but his wife Joan (Cathy Moriarty) begins to see through the façade and uncover some incriminating clues of her own.


Director Donald Cammell (Performance) never directed many movies, before his suicide in1996 aged 62, but his films had a very trippy style all of their own. White of the Eye is full of strange symbolism, mainly focusing on American Indian rituals, and some intense imagery. However the film is not without it’s faults. To begin with, the editing is all over the place. One minute it’s present day, the next it’s showing a flashback scene. Yet the editing is so jarring that at first I was a little thrown as to what I was watching.


The actual murders are not really shown on screen, leaving a lot to the imagination. Instead the director decides to focus on the eye of the killer watching his victims breathe their last breath. The camera also likes to focus on glass smashing, and the splash of wine and sauce take the place of the blood that is also being spilt. It’s not pretentious at all,  but instead gives the murders an almost artistic quality. We don’t see the act itself, instead we see what the victim sees, the white of the killers eye.


David Keith plays the part of the opera loving, sound engineer Paul White very well. He brings a raw intensity to the role, really believing his characters place in the world. Cathy Moriarty is also very good as the inquisitive wife, who slowly comes to the realisation that she really doesn’t know the man she lives with quite as much as she thinks. I have to say this however. The actress that plays the child Danielle White (Danielle Smith) looks a tad strange. There’s no other way to put it. The two front teeth unsettled me, you have to see the movie to understand. I watched this movie on blu ray (available from http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk), and the transfer is immaculate. The extras are great and include a feature length documentary directed by Kevin McDonald and also a short film which was directed by Cammell in 1972. All in all a great package for a good film. Also as I was in a retro mood after talking to my buddies at http://www.80spicturehouse.co.uk on twitter, I thought I’d include the old VHS poster below. Enjoy!






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