Eyes of Crystal


Eyes of Crystal

"Resin, nylon string, live bait, bullets... What for?"

Brooding young detective Giacomo Amaldi (Luigi Lo Cascio) and his veteran partner Frese (José Ángel Egido) are on the trail of a nine-fingered taxidermist-turned-serial killer who steals the limbs of his victims and replaces them with doll parts. Meanwhile, Amaldi is also helping college student Giuditta (Lucía Jiménez) track down her stalker. As the detectives get closer to the killer, the murders grow more and more gruesome. Could dying police detective Ajaccio (Simón Andreu) hold answers to the case? And what does the killer plan to do with all the body parts he's stealing?

Eyes of Crystal (Not to be confused with The Cat With Jade Eyes) is a decent modern take on the giallo genre, full of stylish camera work, gruesome murders and a well-paced mystery. The movie was obviously influenced by Argento, Bava and Fulci (especially Fulci) but also takes cues from David Fincher and American police procedural shows like CSI. While classic gialli had a more operatic, stylish use of blood, modern audiences have a taste for a more, shall we say, accurate and literal depiction of murder. 

  • The film instantly gains giallo cred with the casting of superstar Simón Andreu, whom you will remember from classics like Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, Death Walks on High Heels and Death Walks at Midnight.
  • There are lots of taxidermy animals in the film, but for purposes of the checklist above, only two are killed during the movie: the chipmunk at the beginning and the heron by the shipyard.
  • I also didn't count Amaldi's girlfriend in the body count, because she died before the movie starts in an unrelated incident.
  • The title refers to the taxidermy killer's use of glass eyes in his work.
  • The climactic slow-motion fall from a high tower is filmed as an obvious homage to Don't Torture a Duckling, which ends with the same dramatic stunt.
What the Hell am I Watching?

The movie clearly takes place in an industrial Italian city (Turin maybe or Milan?) but the city library's Occult section only has books written in English.

Imagine how long it would take to decapitate someone using only a surgical scalpel. There's no way the killer could get in, kill someone, remove a head or a pair of limbs with a tiny (albeit sharp) blade, dress the corpse up with doll parts and get out in a hurry.

But the real craziness comes at the film's climax when the killer's gruesome puzzle of human parts appears to rise up from its bed on its own. There's a moment (but just a moment) where you question what kind of movie this even is.

Fashion Moment

This movie has a lot of plot to keep track of, so it's a good thing the clothes are dull and not distracting. Here's the sort of thing we're dealing with:

With his dark, shaggy hair, black trench coat and dark, solid-colored clothes, Amaldi is clearly the Goth Prince of the police precinct. He's not only in mourning for his girlfriend, but is so focused on work that he can't be bothered to consider his clothes.  Even in a relaxed setting in his free time, he's still dark and brooding.

The only relief from the drab blues and grays in this movie comes from Giuditta, who uses red as a signature color.


This not only makes her stand out visually, but communicates that unlike any of the other characters, she has a relatively bright, positive outlook on life. The only other significant use of red in the movie is blood, so this also foreshadows Giuditta as a potential target.

Formula for a Murder

Formula for a Murder

"You won't have time to feel sorry for yourself when we're married."

As a child, Joanna (Christina Nagy) was raped by a priest and, during the attack, fell down a flight of stairs, leaving her paralyzed. The priest was caught and convicted but Joanna has repressed all memories of the incident. Now, years later, Joanna is a Paralympic hopeful, in love with her trainer, Craig (David Warbeck), despite the objections of her assistant, Ruth (Carol Blumenberg). When Craig proposes marriage, Joanna's physician, Dr. Sernich (Rosano Brazzi) reveals details about Joanna's tragic past and warns that if her memories re-emerged, her weak heart couldn't take the stress and she would likely die. Meanwhile, a mysterious gloved figure is murdering local priests and Joanna is having terrifying visions of her childhood attacker holding a bloody doll. Are they really just hallucinations? Or has her attacker returned to finish the job? 

Formula for a Murder (not to be confused with Date for a Murder) is the final film by director Albert De Martino, whom you may remember from The Killer is On the Phone. This is a middling addition to the canon - while the plot does ultimately make sense and there are some well-shot kill scenes, the identity of the killer is revealed a mere 34 minutes in and the movie ends with a big clunky question mark.
  •  David Warbeck is best known for appearing in Lucio Fulci's masterpiece L'Aldila and the late-period giallo Fatal Frames.
  • This is Carol Blumenberg's only screen credit.  
  • The film's biggest name, Rosano Brazzi, starred in the 1958 film adaptation of South Pacific.
  • Prolific composer Francesco De Masi was also responsible for such gialli as The New York Ripper, The Weapon, the Hour, The Motive, and the memorable Tchaikovsky adaptation for The Weekend Murders.
What the Hell Am I Watching?

What kind of bow grip is this for a champion-level archer? All four fingers? Seriously?

Also, there's a scene near the end where Joanna gets picked up and can clearly be seen kicking her feet.  I call shenanigans.

Fashion Moment:

Ruth is the fashion star of the film. We first see her in this look - a masculine jacket with epaulets and a men's tie.

Later, she wears a more formal, expensive-looking, but equally masculine jacket, buttoned at the top.

These Peter Pan collars are a motif running throughout the film.

Finally, notice the use of yellow in this movie - just as Joanna is haunted by a distant sense of fear, her surroundings are punctuated with highlights of yellow. It's always in the background, from her outdoor patio...

...to her kitchen...

...to the Staten Island Ferry.

But in her nightmares, she's completely surrounded in yellow.