Cyclopean cinema continued

One-eyed movie characters return possibly because they can’t find the exit

In last week’s Video Vulture column a real-life eye affliction inspired me to ruminate on the various one-eyed movie characters I’ve witnessed and the many acts of bravado and derring-do they have collectively achieved despite their apparent lack of depth perception. There’s still lots of ground to cover in the topic of monocular cinema so with your kind indulgence we’ll simply continue from where we left off.

• Case No. 6: Assistant Warden (Mei Sheng Fan) from Story of Ricky (a.k.a. Ricki-Oh ) (1991) — This sleazy authority figure from the world’s worst prison has one of the weirdest glass eyes ever. Oh sure it looks perfectly normal but it’s actually hollowed out so it can serve as a dispenser for breath mints.

Good idea. After all stale breath is pretty gross right? Let’s say this guy is out on a date and wants to make a good impression. Fancy restaurant music candlelight everything seems perfect and then… sniff sniff… uh-oh! Stinky breath! No problem. All he has to do is put down his glass of Chateau Lafitte ’72 smile warmly at his date reach up and pop out his glass eye and shake out a few Tic-Tacs. Crisis averted! After all what could possibly be more disgusting than bad breath?

• Case No. 7: Sauron (Sala Baker) from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) — Sauron seemed like quite a sourpuss even in the opening flashback in which he was a big guy in spiky armour. His mood soured considerably in the years that followed. Now he’s just one huge fiery red eyeball glaring malevolently at all of Middle Earth. That my friends is the absolute worst-case scenario for an eye inflammation.

• Case No. 8: Naked Snake (David Hayter) from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004) — Switching from movies to video games for a moment Metal Gear Solid 3 features a grizzled manly protagonist code-named Naked Snake (hahaha!) who actually loses an eye halfway through the game. The game has a fairly sophisticated health-monitoring system to begin with forcing the player to actually use medical tools like forceps antiseptic gauze and stitches to fix gunshot wounds rather than having them heal up instantly just from walking over a health pack. Doing all of this complicated self-surgery can be accomplished instantly by opening up a menu which pauses the game meaning that in the middle of a heated gunfight you can casually patch up all of your broken limbs severed arteries and punctured organs and the bad guys will stop what they’re doing and wait patiently for you to finish. Still it’s a step up from the video game tradition of going from near-death to robust health just by snacking on a banana.

With this added attention to medical uh “realism” (cough cough) it was pretty obvious that Snake wasn’t going to be left unmarred by a nasty bullet-to-the-face scene during a pivotal moment in the game’s storyline. Indeed he wakes up in a prison cell with a brand new even-more-grizzled appearance and sad news from his doctor that the eye is gone for good. Of course he still has to break out of his cell and defeat a Cold War-era Soviet super-tank. After all the world ain’t gonna save itself.

There’s a button on the controller that allows you to see the world from Snake’s point of view. After the ocular maiming using this button leaves the left side of the screen dark and blurry. Plus during the heart-wrenching ending if you press the same button while Snake looks at the tombstone of a loved one your vision becomes all strained and watery as though looking through tears.

• Case No. 9: The director of House of Wax (1953) — The 2005 remake of this horror classic isn’t worth mentioning apart from Paris Hilton’s death scene and the awesome finale in which a house made entirely out of wax catches fire and melts. The original on the other hand is considered to be the finest 3-D movie ever made. Filming movies in 3-D was briefly popular in the ’50s but most films squandered the effect or added the gimmick to films that had absolutely no need for it like the musical comedy Kiss Me Kate (1953). House of Wax on the other hand embraced the gimmick wholeheartedly and missed no opportunity to fling things toward the audience allowing the red-and-blue glasses to work their magic. The kicker is that director Andre de Toth was blind in one eye and couldn’t perceive the 3-D effect at all.

• Case No. 10: One-eyed Neanderthal space alien from Horror Express (1973) — OK. So there’s this frozen one-eyed caveman in a box right? Christopher Lee finds it in the Arctic and loads it onto the Trans-Siberian Express train. It thaws out and wakes up murdering various passengers on the train and stealing their memories getting smarter as it goes. The good guys finally catch it and shoot it thus ending the rampage. But wait! The apeman was actually possessed by an evil intelligence from outer space and now that energy being is flitting around the train possessing people and making an army of zombies. Egad!

At one point Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing perform an autopsy on the dead apeman and get the brilliant idea of examining the fluid in its eye to determine the last thing the creature saw. It works too; they look at a little droplet under the microscope and see the interior of the train along with the beast’s last victim. Then they try the same thing with the monster’s blind eye. This time they get to see a panoramic view of the world as it was two million years ago complete with flying pterodactyls. Cool!