Total Recall

Total Recall: The Eyes Have It

Feast your corneas on this collection of cinematic retinal candy!

by | January 30, 2008 | Comments

This week,
Jessica
Alba
stars in The
Eye
, a spooky tale of a blind woman who gets surgery to restore her
sight — and ends up seeing lots of creepy stuff. Thus, we at Rotten Tomatoes
thought it would be a great time to peep some classic movies and scenes devoted
to the ol peepers.

The eyes are the first physical feature people notice on
each other, but in the movies, they’re probably the last. Unless you’re
Kubrick
and partly base your artistic legacy on visual motifs of the organ, the eyes
get lost in a medium that relies on dialogue and an actor’s mannerisms and tics
to tell the story. With this list, we set out to catalogue the movies that make
the most of these windows into our souls, which spiraled into a compendium of
eye-gouging. Enjoy! (And if you’re having a snack, consider finishing up right
now.)


Minority Report
(91
percent on the Tomatometer)

Being a fugitive is hard in 2054, especially when your eyes
are being scanned at every corner. In a deliciously creepy scene, Officer John
Anderton (Tom Cruise) finds a black market surgeon (played by a very shady
Peter Stormare) willing to perform an eye transplant. There is a lovely
Clockwork Orange-esque eye clamp to make viewers squirm.
After the procedure, some seriously scary robot spiders crawl into the
apartment, and force Anderton to open his new eyes before they’ve had a chance
to heal. He wants to keep his old eyes, and later drops them and clumsily
chases after them as they roll towards the sewer, catching director
Steven
Spielberg
in a rare moment of mordant humor.


Un Chien Andalou
(100
percent)

Perhaps it was the Pixies who best described the essential
appeal of Un Chien Andalou in "Debaser":

"Got me a movie!
I want you to know!
Slicin’ up eyeballs!
I want you to know!"

Luis Bunuel and
Salvador Dali‘s 1929 surrealist masterpiece
is much more than that of course; Un Chien Andalou is
probably the most famous and influential avant-garde film, a full-bore assault
on reason and convention. However, one of the primary reasons for its lasting
influence is its shocking, notorious opening scene, in which a man takes a
razorblade to a woman’s eye. (If it makes you feel any better, a cow’s eye was
used for the scene. And yes, the cow was dead.)


Kill Bill: Volume Two
(85
percent)

The two volumes of Kill Bill demonstrate
the many ways that the human body can be beaten, sliced, diced, and skewered —
not to mention buried alive. However, eyesight damage is also a significant
risk in Quentin Tarantino‘s epic. Case in point: as Elle Driver,
Daryl Hannah
suffers not one, but two debilitating retinal injuries. The first is at the
hands of martial arts master Pai Mei (who Driver later poisons) leaving her
with a pretty awesome looking eye patch. And the second? We won’t ruin it for you;
just watch the clip below (unless you’re squeamish, of course).


Zombi 2
(33 percent)

Aside from that sublime scene of a zombie boxing a shark at
the bottom of the ocean,
Lucio Fulci‘s Zombi 2 is largely
remembered for one scene, occurring after the undead outbreak is in full swing.
An unlucky lady gets zombie ambushed and her head is grabbed and guided
sl-o-o-o-wly towards a protruding pointy stick. Rather graphic, profoundly campy,
and about as gut-wrenching as when
the evil security guard gets steamrolled in
Austin Powers
.



Thriller: A
Cruel Picture

To get banned in the progressive stronghold of Sweden, it
takes only a movie of rampant misogyny, misanthropy, violence, vengeance
killings, hardcore sex, and cadaver misappropriation. Its clear influence on
Kill Bill spurred renewed interest in the movie, and
Thriller: A Cruel Picture (aka They Call Her One
Eye
) has emerged as a hallmark of exploitation cinema, not only for
its extreme content but also director
Bo Arne
Vibenus
‘s commitment to produce
compelling angles and shots amidst the carnage. An actual recently deceased
young woman was used for the film’s literally eye-popping scene.


Pan’s Labyrinth
(96
percent)

This Spanish fairy tale explores how a child’s imagination
can be a creative escape during war. A more memorable scene in Pan’s
Labyrinth
features one of the most repulsive and frightening monsters
in recent movie history. Our hero, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), is required to
complete a task in a dining room filled with delicious food. At the head of the
dining room table sits an extremely pale and skeletal creature missing both his
eyes. Conveniently, his sticky bloody eyes sit on a plate in front of him.
Ofelia is about to complete her task, when she disobeys the strict orders not
to eat any of the food in room. Suddenly, the creature inserts his eyes into
his hands (literally, in the center of his palms) and begins to chase Ofelia.


Eyes Without a Face
(97
percent)

A mad scientist, guilt-racked over his daughter’s facial
disfigurement that has led her to permanently wear an ivory mask, kidnaps young
women and cuts off their faces to graft onto his daughter. Grotesque but
weirdly lyrical, Eyes Without a Face is part of the school
of elegant horror that these days only the Spanish seem capable of re-creating.
The camera’s steady, unflinching gaze (clearly coming from director
Georges Franju‘s documentarian background) ratchets the story to rather uncomfortable
levels, with the film’s infamous surgery scene causing audiences to faint
during its 1960 premiere.


Mansion of the Doomed

While Eyes Without a Face aimed to
elevate horror into misshapen art, 1976’s Mansion of the
Doomed
gets down and dirty in the B-movie trenches.
Mansion takes the plot of the former (insane scientist
father, car accident, disfigured daughter), but with a small twist: instead of
face skin, people are being abducted for their eyes. Upstairs in the mansion,
it’s all polyester sweater vests and station wagons, but downstairs its hush-hush
surgery (shot in the same clinical manner of Franju’s) and medieval cages of
blinded prisoners screaming and groping around. Appearances always have been
deceiving.



Sylvester Stallone
,
Gary Busey,
Marjane
Satarapi

What do the Italian Stallion, a beloved Hollywood
kook, and an Iranian comic artist-cum-filmmaker have in common? Eye of the
tiger, baby. Eye of the tiger. Survivor was commissioned to write the hard rock
anthem for one of Rocky
III
‘s
many splendored montages, and the song was later appropriated in
1986 for Busey’s motorcyclists-on-a-rampage movie,
Eye of the Tiger. Countless movies have employed it since,
but the best usage in recent memory is
Persepolis
.
Marjane, depressed and ill, retakes the reigns of her life to this tune, which
Chiara Mastroianni charmingly warbles off-key.


The

Lord of the Rings
trilogy
(94
percent)

Fewer things are creepier than Orcs, but Sauron’s
"probing" eye gives most irksome villainy a run for their money.
Decidedly more macho than other omniscient phantoms of any of the other worlds
(e.g. Macbeth’s Witches, Satan, Mary Alice on Desperate
Housewives
), Sauron’s disembodied eye is a beacon of evil, darkly
lording over colonies of shadowy, evildoing loyalists. J.R.R. Tolkien was hot
on the trail of effective imagery when he conceived of this eye. Really, what’s
more threatening than evil that seeks you out and sends his minions to wherever
it is you lie?


Authors: Tim Ryan, Rachel Sandor, Sara Schieron, and Alex Vo

Tag Cloud

news Legendary crossover Endgame Hollywood Foreign Press Association 45 Grammys Awards Tour Best Actor ABC Signature Podcast biopic summer TV preview spider-man golden globes japan TCA Winter 2020 Amazon Studios christmas movies rt labs critics edition women strong female leads Netflix Christmas movies Prime Video crime drama spanish Emmys Lucasfilm Certified Fresh remakes Character Guide The Academy social media sequels Box Office Hallmark Ghostbusters RT21 period drama cinemax Infographic latino name the review deadpool FXX Holidays Netflix scary MCU Creative Arts Emmys elevated horror boxoffice Discovery Channel ghosts Nickelodeon El Rey Heroines anime Bravo high school Ellie Kemper japanese Disney Plus know your critic Broadway comics YA mission: impossible critics robots Stephen King rt labs 4/20 asian-american new star wars movies serial killer cooking posters screen actors guild Extras composers archives halloween Nominations Pride Month video on demand Musicals See It Skip It Warner Bros. chucky Native sitcom comic YouTube dramedy festivals Showtime New York Comic Con Countdown Country First Look renewed TV shows comic books young adult YouTube Premium green book sports Chernobyl documentaries broadcast Comics on TV unscripted sequel San Diego Comic-Con Paramount Ovation CNN 72 Emmy Awards Animation stand-up comedy justice league rotten Western ViacomCBS basketball superhero American Society of Cinematographers Rocky BBC One DirecTV MTV Drama jamie lee curtis Oscar History mcc directors ITV vs. TV renewals Geeked Week TCM Tags: Comedy cancelled TV shows Sundance Freeform Brie Larson GoT BAFTA OneApp pirates of the caribbean Sundance TV Disney Channel The Arrangement FX on Hulu rotten movies we love Elton John art house 24 frames a nightmare on elm street Apple 90s Disney+ Disney Plus james bond trailers franchise 71st Emmy Awards twilight TruTV crime thriller sag awards Tomatazos Academy Awards 2016 adaptation werewolf HBO Interview parents toronto psychological thriller fresh foreign witnail HBO Max zombie spain OWN Tubi space binge LGBTQ HBO Go Schedule 2017 Marvel Studios Cartoon Network 94th Oscars romance Paramount Plus Opinion 007 spider-verse Mary Tyler Moore APB Avengers Universal 2019 Marvel Television Calendar Binge Guide Best and Worst harry potter IFC Films cancelled target scene in color jurassic park BET Awards 1990s trophy First Reviews SXSW 2022 kong YouTube Red Best Director A&E Disney streaming service Tumblr canceled TV shows live event A24 Star Wars razzies animated festival Trailer USA Network Television Critics Association godzilla Apple TV Plus king kong king arthur obituary WGN Pop revenge Women's History Month singing competition stoner Fall TV 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Thanksgiving football blaxploitation die hard spinoff Awards Trivia natural history Lifetime telelvision game show Sci-Fi dogs Teen The Walking Dead black comedy feel good mob stop motion adventure Kids & Family halloween tv Red Carpet television The Walt Disney Company Lifetime Christmas movies breaking bad Oscars SXSW ABC Family worst documentary prank war politics 2020 Pixar royal family Masterpiece best NYCC joker kaiju Focus Features Sony Pictures ID Amazon Prime quibi miniseries target scene in color series satire book adaptation dreamworks Family Spectrum Originals CBS Song of Ice and Fire reboot romantic comedy 99% Comedy comic book movies laika Fox News live action travel science fiction The Purge AMC Classic Film Anna Paquin Pop TV Adult Swim 79th Golden Globes Awards Neflix TV Land rt archives South by Southwest Film Festival Exclusive Video docudrama genre comedies scary movies criterion Fargo game of thrones IMDb TV Funimation Indigenous BBC America Britbox TBS Trophy Talk Set visit Syfy medical drama CW Seed adenture Photos nfl dexter aapi CBS All Access talk show italian HFPA DC Comics series kids USA Esquire Premiere Dates TCA Rocketman Image Comics hist Paramount Pictures summer preview TV critic resources marvel comics Amazon Prime Video Sundance Now legend cars Summer ABC BET classics 2021 Vudu Action Spring TV 73rd Emmy Awards scorecard Food Network historical drama Film spanish language Star Wars Celebration diversity true crime Travel Channel nbcuniversal Sony doctor who hidden camera SDCC Winners Columbia Pictures Shondaland hispanic casting SundanceTV DC Universe TCA 2017 FOX movie obi wan aliens Baby Yoda Chilling Adventures of Sabrina reviews blockbuster Election NBC Comic-Con@Home 2021 free movies Year in Review 2018 Valentine's Day Pacific Islander dark Superheroes Peacock children's TV toy story Lionsgate 2015 Biopics Logo popular 20th Century Fox cats MGM indiana jones Star Trek Rom-Com Reality Mudbound Hear Us Out heist movie debate Winter TV movies marvel cinematic universe Dark Horse Comics sopranos Acorn TV olympics streaming movies Instagram Live TV One TCA Awards golden globe awards lord of the rings Hulu thriller slashers suspense IFC monster movies teaser book Universal Pictures MSNBC streamig Black History Month gangster Polls and Games Superheroe Apple TV+ LGBT DC streaming service international TNT biography TV movies zombies GIFs police drama Amazon transformers Reality Competition comic book movie Mindy Kaling award winner action-comedy comiccon richard e. Grant Christmas discovery PlayStation NBA tv talk Film Festival scene in color film series Comic Book The CW Quiz hispanic heritage month Turner Classic Movies Alien screenings Black Mirror south america political drama Watching Series Disney Mystery Television Academy Crunchyroll new york streaming Musical Fox Searchlight worst movies zero dark thirty technology Mary Poppins Returns Best Actress President Emmy Nominations Holiday VH1 Martial Arts Comedy Central Walt Disney Pictures Crackle Starz GLAAD Super Bowl Captain marvel dceu concert The Witch Shudder child's play National Geographic summer TV Tokyo Olympics universal monsters Best Picture theme song FX Video Games ratings 21st Century Fox superman versus TIFF cops films hollywood Sneak Peek PBS Horror black X-Men interviews WarnerMedia Marathons finale Epix canceled Fantasy new zealand Tarantino Spike cartoon Writers Guild of America docuseries mockumentary PaleyFest australia cancelled TV series Wes Anderson what to watch ESPN BBC Cosplay nature psycho crime TLC rom-coms Pirates AMC Plus supernatural Cannes vampires indie Toys video Nat Geo Pet Sematary E3 DGA leaderboard based on movie blockbusters E! RT History CMT fast and furious boxing disaster cults batman Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Turner Marvel anthology mutant french all-time VOD spy thriller Arrowverse emmy awards saw slasher Mary poppins Music 93rd Oscars venice facebook Paramount Network VICE Hallmark Christmas movies dc wonder woman dragons scene in color cancelled television Rock independent