Gatti rossi in un labirinto di vetro (Red Cats in a Labyrinth of Glass) AKA Eyeball-1975
Directed by Umberto Lenzi (Cannibal Ferox, Seven Blood Stained Orchids, Spasmo), this entry in to the sub-genre Gialli is one of my favorites. Written by Félix Tusell and Lenzi, this is definitely not his best work. This film has had many titles. In the USA it was titled “Eyeball.”
Although there were some releases on VHS there has only (To the best of my knowledge) been one official release on DVD and that is the German DVD release titled “Labyrinth Des Schreckens” from the German company “Marketing-Film” which is long-since out of print (As well as the VHS) and is the version I am reviewing. It also opens with the title “The Secret Killer.” Of note this DVD is PAL. But you can still find illegitimate NTSC DVDr versions but they are not official releases.
It is a strange and quirky little giallo set in Barcelona where a group of Americans (who all seem to be from the same place) are visiting while on a bus tour. People, mostly women are turning up dead with one of their eyes gouged out and mostly women with gray-blue eyes. Why is the killer obsessed with blue left eyeballs and why do they affect the killer so much? Actor John Richardson (Mark Burton) and actress Martine Brochard (Paulette Stone) lead the cast. Mark and Paulette are lovers while Mark is married to Alma who is supposed to be in a clinic because she had a nervous breakdown. A year prior a young girl was murdered with one of her eyes removed. Mark had come home to find Alma unconscious with a bloody knife in one hand and an eye in the other.
He begins to suspect that Alma is in Barcelona and perpetrating the murders. Someone is trying to make him think the killer (in a red raincoat which was given out to the members of the tour during a storm) is Alma.
There are multiple red herrings, a bit of nudity and some decent kills. I doubt you will guess who the killer is and especially the motive behind the murders which is right out of left field and pretty ridiculous. The police are pretty silly which is something you find with a lot of gialli. It is a pretty middle of the road giallo and silly at times but I love it and find it to be very fun. I just wish it wasn’t out of print which makes me glad I picked this one up before it disappeared.
After a chase we discover Paulette over the body of a woman, knife in one hand and an eye in the other. She is interrupted as she is trying to place it in her own eye socket. The girl that was killed a year ago, it turns out was murdered by Paulette. The reason? Apparently they were childhood friends and the girl ripped one of Paulette’s eyes out of her socket while they were playing Doctor (?). The girl was never punished so Paulette decided to exact her own.
As I said earlier, it is a middle of the road giallo that ends up feeling a bit like a slasher. It is nice to see the killer in red instead of the typical black clothes but it is inferior to some of his other gialli and the works of Argento, Fulci, Bava. But it is still a fun movie and if you like gialli and Lenzi it is worth checking out if you can find a copy. It does lack some of the wonderful set-pieces from other films of the kind but is a nice little mystery. I do love it though through the cheese.
The DVD features three language tracks, two German and one English with no subtitle option. There is a trailer, slide-show and filmographies. It is also in widescreen 16:9. The picture is not bad and it really screams the 70’s. I have only listened to the English track and it sounds pretty clear. I wish there were more shots of Barcelona and Sitges though.