DAMN YOUR EYES
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
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! https://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/2011/05/horror-cult-films-exclusive-an-interview-with-david-guglielmo/