Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Illuminati, Before They Were Famous - Part 2

MacGyver like you never saw him before

Through The Eyes Of A Killer is a TV-thriller from 1992, based on a short story by British author Christopher Fowler. It's not very high budget, but has an interesting and talented cast. Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver) is here in the only bad-guy role I've ever seen him in, and I must admit he plays it pretty convincingly. Marg Helgenberger plays Laurie, a well educated, independent and sexually frustrated, woman, who hires Anderson's character, Ray Bellano, to refurbish a trashy old apartment. Shortly thereafter, she gets physical with him and feels like she's on cloud nine for about 20 minutes of the movie. Then they have a fallout, which ultimately sparks the premise of the movie. Tippi Hedren has a minor role as the landlady, and I wouldn't be surprised if there is some kind of hommage to an older movie there somewhere, that I haven't picked up on yet.

What makes TTEOAK so special, is that it is the only "old" movie I know of that incorporates the all-seeing eye in a directly malevolent context. It is also the only movie I've seen, period, where the eye becomes more than just a fleeting symbol to be seen here and there. In TTEOAK it is even beyond being just a plot device: it is a completely independent entity, that interacts subtly with the involved characters and affect their actions - and ultimately the outcome of the story.

The Eye continually appears with a shiny, glowing effect throughout the movie. The Eye of Providence, surrounded by sunbeams, can be found in many freemasonic lodges, as a reminder of "The Great Master Builder of All Worlds"
After watching Through The Eyes Of A Killer, I learned that it was based on a short story called The Master Builder by Christopher Fowler. This of course describes Richard Dean Anderson's character is in the movie: a superb craftsman who takes the expression from trash to treasure, to a whole new level. But it is clearly also a freemasonic reference, viewed in conjunction with the symbolism that is such a central part of the plot. I was therefore surprised, when I read Fowler's original story, to learn that the evil eye mosaic is not a part of it at all. It's not even hinted at. So whatever this nod at freemasonry and/or The Illuminati is supposed to mean, it probably came solely from the filmmakers. But let's take a closer look and speculate some more along the way (Warning: There will be spoilers).

In the first clip, Tippy hedren shows Laurie the window with the eye, and a sense of dread comes across her. The sun shining through the eye creates a mysterious light.

In the next clip, Ray sees the eye, and it is as if an exchange is taking place. This clearly isn't your everyday window decoration.

One thing noticed about the Ray Bellano character from this point onwards, was how much he looks like Adolfo Costanzo, the "Godfather of Matamoros", whose Palo Mayombe-inspired cult created mayhem across the southern US states and Mexico during the late 1980's. Costanzo's activities ended in 1989, when he commited suicide just prior to getting apprehended by the Mexican police. His followers were either arrested or died with him.

Below I have put up a screenshot from Through The Eyes Of A Killer against a picture of Costanzo, in order to demonstrate the similarities. It might well be a coincidence, since that type of dodgy haircut was all too popular in those days. But it is in no way improbable, since the Matamoros case was very well known at the time.

One night, shortly after the work on the apartment has commenced, Laurie is attacked by Ray Bellano. A rape ensues, but she decides to go in on it. When she wakes up in the morning, the eye shines briefly but knowingly at her. Laurie and Ray begin a short affair, until he seduces her best friend. Ray gives her a sinister promise, that he wont give up on her, but finishes off the apartment without any further complaints or interactions. Later, when its all set to move in, the following scene occurs:

Ray has left a "gift" for Laurie - a pyramid with an all seeing eye - a hint that she is being watched? But how? The guy at the end of the above clip is a colleague of Laurie, who tries to win her via the friendship way. But i'm not sure exactly how to interpret the scene with the knife, as there is yet no reason for him to be cautious. Maybe the eye is influencing him too? In the next scene, Laurie is beginning to sense that there is something older and more sinister about the apartment, and suspects that the eye plays a part in it.

The gift is transformed into a weapon, as Laurie bashes Ray with it. Afterwards she discovers how he could have remained hidden in the apartment - there is a hollow area within the thick walls that Ray has made into an advanced system of halls and entrances from which he could get into the apartment. Someone else than the Eye has been watching her!

In the following scene, Ray talks about how the place itself gave him power, like the inner "force" that you often hear serial killers talk about. It is therefore the place itself, expressed via The Eye, that affects the people who comes into contact with it.

Finally, Rays dies, and the most eerie scene of the whole movie plays out. It seems that The Eye decides to turn on its own device, hypnotizing him so laurie can finally get the drop on him.

So...what to conclude about this eye business? Why is it used in such a sinister context? Is there anything in the director's past works that could hint at a reason? Looking on IMDB, Peter Markles' resumé almost explicitly includes TV movies and episodes for various TV-series, most of them with a crime theme. At first glance there isn't really anything on the list that stands out, except maybe Flight 93 (2006) about the missing plane on 9-11, but even that was very non-challenging in its narrative, as far as i remember. Markles also directed a few episodes for the X files and Millenium, but these were written by someone else. Then it struck me that maybe the writer on Through The Eyes Of A Killer was the real culprit. He is listed on IMDB as Solomon Isaacs, a name that sounds like it could have been made up for the occasion. Indeed, there is no other listed works attributed to him, nor could I find any other info about him anywhere. I even tried writing Christopher Fowler about it, but he never answered. So I'm afraid the trail ran cold there.

Finally, there is one question left asking: Is the film worth watching? Well, you got some major spoilers from reading all this, but why not, it isn't half bad. Just remember to check your apartment thoroughly before going to sleep.

Part 1 here.


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