Sunday, May 26, 2013

LOOKER (1981)

I don’t get plastic surgery. It’s like some sort of strange mutilation procedure that future historians will look back on and be unable to comprehend. Why would (mostly) women spend big bucks to make themselves look like a radiation experiment from some Z-grade 50’s science fiction movie? I’m not saying that people should be proud of who they naturally are, or that people who are obssessed with their looks are shallow (which are both true). No, it’s that I find it nervewracking and disturbing that the world is being infiltrated by hybrids of human and plastique. It’s like the Stepford wives are showing seams from botched repair jobs. Oh, and fake tits count. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it yet again: I like tits, not bags filled with chemicals. Any asshole can go under the sink and fill a bag with chemicals. You don’t need a woman for that. 

Perfection is in the eye of the asshole with unrealistic expectations, and these expectations are mostly set by the advertising industry. A studio that produces commercials has even gone so far as to quantify “perfection” as a series of minute plastic surgery adjustments that are imperceptible to the naked eye, a far cry from the more typical giant ass implants or whatever. Four aspiring commercial actresses get these changes done by brilliant plastic surgeon Albert Finney in order to land these commercials. Maybe if have to get fat monster lips in order to stay in business, it’s time to get out of the business. 

Anyway, for some unknown reason, these women are murdered soon after. That is, they are only worthy of death once they are “perfect”. Whoever is doing the killing uses a light gun (sort of a supercharged Nintendo Zapper) that freezes the victim and wipes the intervening hour from their memory. You know those stories about people experiencing “lost time” where they were supposedly abducted by aliens and their anal probe memories were erased? It’s sort of like that, but you can shoot it out of a gun. That’s fucking technology right there.

When four of your patients end up murdered, people start asking questions, and those people wear badges and eat donuts. So, to save his own ass, Al decides to investigate. He is our guide through the confused technology of the film, which most importantly includes the studio where these commercials are filmed. The ads employ a similar technology to the light gun, where the T.V. signal zaps the schmucks at home into believing they actually need a Meat Hydrator in their lives (it turns beef jerky into regular beef per Janeane Garofalo*). Big Al is occasionally zapped by Tim Rossovich, light gun wielder and former NFL player, momentarily freezing him on his quest. Why he doesn’t just shoot him with a real gun is a bit perplexing. Even if Tim is anti-gun, he can just beat him to death. He played linebacker. I’m pretty sure he could take an aging Albert Finney. Either way, the culprit behind all of this societal disease and murder is the advertising industry. I’m not surprised. Not in the least. 

Unfortunately, the movie becomes obsessed with its own technology, rather than exploring the ideas behind the technology. A world class satire is huddled in the corner, overwhelmed by light and flash. While it sounds like I’m knocking the movie, keep in mind that if the script lived up to its satirical potential, IT WOULD BE THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE**. Barry De Vorzon (with Sue Saad) handle the amazing soundtrack, and the movie is maybe the best portrait of early 80’s ritzy L.A. caught on film. It’s like the movie is a world created entirely from Playboy Magazine ads circa the early 80’s (I read Playboy Magazine for the ads cuz the tits are fake). 

The movie aspires to be a scathing critique that uses the medium of Hollywood excess to point out the evil molding power of commercials, a level of irony few Hollywood movies would ever achieve, outside of the likes of Douglas Sirk, Brian DePalma, and Paul Verhoeven. Instead, we have a movie that is amazing as a piece of techno-pop art that also manages to sorta kinda point out that plastic surgery and T.V. commercials are complete horseshit. Maybe that’s not such an obvious point to those already blinded by the light. 

*Janeane did a promo for Comedy Central where she was hawking the “Meat Hydrator”, the opposite of “Snake Oil” Popeil’s “Meat Dehydrator”. What happens when you go crazy with the Meat Dehydrator and are up to your knees in beef jerky? Well, you pick up the Meat Hydrator and get your beef back. Here is proof that I’m not making this up.

**sorta kinda 

P.S. If you have a record player, make sure you pick up the self-titled debut album and swan song by Sue Saad and the Next.  I guess you could listen to it on Youtube like a pussy, but whatever works I guess.



  1. Thanks for shedding some light on this movie, Thomas Duke. And I must say...

    Nah, I don't like that comment. Let me try again.

    Thanks for shooting me in the face with your light gun and slipping this movie into the soft, gooey recesses of my subconscious while I was in a trance, Tommy D. I just finished watching it for a second time, and I must say, it rules pretty hard.

    Yeah, that's a bit better. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go peruse the internet in search of pics of Leigh Taylor-Young while wearing her Looker power suits.

    1. If memory serves, she may be naked in Soylent Green.