Jun 022011
 


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Written by:
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DAMN YOUR EYES: Available to view above

DIRECTED BY: David Guglielmo

WRITTEN BY: David Guglielmo

STARRING: Jakob Von Eichel, Marisa Costa, Ray Reynolds, Angelo Andrisani

REVIEWED BY:Dr Lenera Official HCF Critic  

 

Somewhere in a town in the Old West, a mysterious stranger walks into a bar and orders a glass of milk. A discussion about “pussy” goes wrong and the stranger shoots several people before escaping upstairs into the room of Louisa, a prostitute with a very bruised face. Then the stranger is shot, in the back…………
Damn Your Eyes is a wonderful twenty minute throwback to the glory days of the Spaghetti Western, where,after Sergio Leone’s incredible films had opened up the floodgates, Italian [and, indeed, American and British, for a while] cinemas were packed with movies with titles like The Big Gundown, God Forgives, I Don’t [to which the line on the poster pays tribute] and If You Meet Sartana, Pray For Your Death, with people like Franco Nero, Thomas Milian and John Louis Trintignant striding across the screen blowing away all and sundry. Of course there were quite a few poor films but the best of them had great style, were very inventive and sometimes had an intelligent political dimension. Occasionally you would get one with really dark elements, virtually taking the genre into the horror movie, for example Django Kill and The Big Silence, and this is where Damn Your Eyes seems to fit in. It pays tribute to those movies and includes many of the tried and tested elements, while somehow having a freshness of its’ own. This is a very difficult thing to do, especially in a genre like the Western, which thrives on the repetition of cliches [and I don’t mean this insultingly, many might say the Horror movie does the same thing] but somehow writer and director David Guglielmo achieves this, and, best of all, leaves you panting for more when his film is over.

What first struck me about Damn Your Eyes was how incredibly polished it is, in virtually every department, from acting to photography to editing. I find it incredible that this is the first film he’s made. It was made for around $5000 dollars and yes, the limitations may show in only one major action scene and the small cast, but I only thought about these things after the movie had finished, while you’re watching it you probably won’t notice them at all. A good example is the opening sequence, which begins with a few shots showing a typical Western saloon. A dark element is suddenly introduced with a shot of Louisa’s beaten face, then we see the shadow of a stranger with a hat, and in he comes. After ordering milk and getting into an argument, he shoots his opponents with some striking cuts that just reminded me of how Leone would have shot that sequence, and I can’t really praise something any higher than that considering how much I love Leone! After a few more shootings, the movie settles down a little, and we are treated to some nice scenes between Sam and Louisa. In the best Western fashion, a great deal is revealed about the characters without that much dialogue and certainly no sappiness! There’s also a terrific flashback showing why Sam is on his vengeance mission, effectively shot in black and white and sufficiently nasty without overdoing the viciousness, and a really haunting reveal of something which explains why Sam doesn’t like to show his face. Unfortunately, the film ends soon after.

Guglielmo’s script is mostly serious and avoids the camp that many Spaghetti Westerns felt the need to put in, but there are a few nice touches of humour, low key and subtle, such as when a witness tells Dennis about Sam, “he wore a hat, it was real low” and Dennis replies, “thank you, you’ve been a bundle of real help”. I suppose some might say that there isn’t that much that is truly original, but you could say that about most films at the moment, and I think the high quality of almost every aspect makes up for this. Also, I was overjoyed that the film wasn’t full of in-jokes, though there are a few references I think I spotted! The blood and gunfire effects, which combine traditional methods with CG, are fantastic and better than some I’ve seen in many major Hollywood productions. It seems that Guglielmo took immense care with every single thing, and it really pays off. This extends to the photography by Alex Chinnici, which is really glossy and sometimes genuinely artistic. A good example is a beautiful shot of a candle illuminating most of Sam’s face as he lies on a bed. Some of the almost dreamlike transitions between shots are also very good. Now I’m not a fan of reused music in films but Guglielmo obviously realised nobody can do Ennio Morricone better then Ennio Morricone and packs the film with terrific cues by the great composer. As a film score fan I also noticed a track from the score to The House By The Cemetery  by Walter Rizatti, used very well too I must say.

The performances range from good to very good, I didn’t see single poor one in the film. Gugliemo managed to get such a really good cast of people, most of whom appear to have been in quite a few shorts and indeed features before especially Jak Von Eichel who really has a presence as Sam and actually sounds a bit like Clint Eastwood, It seems that Damn Your Eyes has been intended to whet our appetites for the feature version that is being planned. I for one feel it will be quite something. Recently it was announced that Quentin Tarantino’s next film is going to be a Spaghetti Western, but out of the two planned films I know which one I’m looking forward to more!

You can also read the day Sub Editor’s Matt Wavish and Ross Hughes met the director of Damn Your Eyes, David Guglielmo right here!  http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/2011/05/horror-cult-films-exclusive-an-interview-with-david-guglielmo/

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  One Response to “DAMN YOUR EYES: Watch Full Short Film Here!”

  1. [...] We here at HCF are championing David Guglielmo, the director of the superb short film, Damn Your Eyes which you can view here. [...]

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