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The Murder in a Dream's Eye

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When trying to track down your missing psychiatrist, you may want to closely analyse any weird and spectacular blunders you make in the process. 1972's Eye in the Labyrinth(L’occhio nel labirinto), a giallo directed by Mario Caiano, starts off seeming kind of silly, though sexy and interestingly shot, as we follow a beautiful young woman making extremely questionable decisions in a strange city among strange people. By the end, though, it becomes something really interesting along the lines of Detour, Black Angel, and Vertigo.

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Julie (Rosemary Dexter) even has dreams about a spiral staircase. Wondering how much of the final act of the film was intended all along, I looked for details throughout the production when taking screenshots and I did notice many little clues, including this dress with a glasses print Julie wears at one point:

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After arriving in town and asking around about her psychiatrist, she meets a sinister man in black with a glass eye who tells her he knows someone who can help her. He takes her to an apparently abandoned mansion and directs her to enter alone. When she asks who to ask for inside, he tells her it doesn’t matter. After all this, she proceeds inside the building—wearing a terrycloth miniskirt, at that.

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I love how it actually looks like a labyrinth, too.

This is only the first of several times that we see her doing something that seems very likely to endanger or embarrass her. In the middle of investigating her psychiatrist’s disappearance, she decides to go skinny dipping on a public beach where her clothes are almost immediately stolen by laughing teenage boys. She winds up at a mansion filled with a group of art hound drug dealers and she twice manages to doze naked where the resident teenage boy might come across her.

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The group at the mansion includes Adolfo Celi from Thunderball playing a well dressed man named Frank.

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If that sounded to you like a David Lynch reference, I swear I didn’t do it on purpose but I did find myself wondering if this movie was an influence on Lynch. There’s a hallway sequence near the end that feels very much like Fred Madison’s weird shadow hall in Lost Highway.

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It’s unclear from moment to moment whether Frank is on Julie’s side or not and often his actions seem to make no sense at all, including a scene where he rescues her, cutting her bonds, and then immediately seems to decide to kill her. Yet it all actually makes sense on a psychological level in the end and it’s supported by a lecherous hubris Celi ably conveys throughout the film.

Illustration for article titled The Murder in a Dreams Eye
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A violent and stylish bit of fun turns out to be something much more interesting by the end. Eye in the Labyrinth is very satisfying and it’s available on Amazon Prime.

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