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DEATH HAS BLUE EYES ***

Directed by Nico Mastorakis.

Starring Jessica Dublin, Maria Aliferi, Peter Winter, Hristos Nomikos.

Action/Thriller, Greece, 80 mins, cert 18.

 

Released in the UK on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on 5th April 2021.

 

With the Blu-ray release of DEATH HAS BLUE EYES Arrow Video once again visit the back catalogue of Nico Mastorakis, the Greek filmmaker whose most infamous contribution to the horror genre was 1976s ISLAND OF DEATH, a grim piece of trash inspired by the impact of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE but executed with none of the nuance and all of the things that Mary Whitehouse thought was in that film but actually wasn’t.

 

Released in the same year as ISLAND OF DEATH but filmed first, DEATH HAS BLUE EYES opens with two hip and trendy guys wearing flares big enough to sail with and greeting each other in a highly homoerotic display of hugging, back-slapping and general tomfoolery, displaying a campness emphasised by an awful dubbing job that sounds like the cast of ON THE BUSES doing a bit of moonlighting. Robert (Peter Winter) is clearly the brains of the pair because he says things like “You could have killed us!” to a couple of unidentified goons in a helicopter shooting at him, clearly missing the point of being hunted by assassins. The other guy, Ches (Hristos Nomikos), isn't quite as sharp as his friend but he does dress better and has a nice collection of floral shirts, and together they con their way into a limousine intended for someone else and attempt to blag a free meal in a hotel restaurant.

However, the two badly dubbed playboys are being watched by mature Denise Van Outen lookalike Geraldine (Jessica Dublin) and her daughter Christina (Maria Aliferi), who both seem to know who Kowalski is. After Robert and Ches leg it and have a bizarre encounter with a naked housemate and Ches’s much older lover - the spectre of ON THE BUSES looms large over this film – the two women catch up with them and offer them a deal – Christina is psychic and knows the details of a political murder so if Robert and Ches protect them from their pursuers they will reward them handsomely. This naturally means avoiding motorbike assassins and helicopter gunmen whilst attempting to bed every woman they meet and having their sexy time spoilt by Christina, who has the uncanny ability to make a man unable to perform by the power of thought. Could be useful...

 

Despite its giallo-esque title DEATH HAS BLUE EYES has more in common with Italian poliziotteschi movies such as the unintentionally hilarious LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN, also released in 1976 and a film that would be a parody of buddy cop movies had it not been made before all of the films that gave us the clichés. Add to that a healthy dose of cheeky British humour thanks to Peter Winter, who had appeared in THE NEW AVENGERS and several other British TV shows of the era, and his Robin Askwith impression that sees him and co-star Hristos Nomikos bedding a permanently naked housemate before being chased out of the house by an angry spurned lover and you have the setup of a highly enjoyable crime caper with some saucy humour thrown in. Unfortunately, Nico Mastorakis thought this wasn’t enough and added the supernatural psychic angle –coincidentally CARRIE was also out that year – and that is where the film starts to fall flat.

 

Oh yes, the psychic ability to make a man lose his erection isn't something you see in very many movies but it happens here after Robert gets picked up by a female racing driver who gives him a lift in her performance car, most likely because Nico Mastorakis had access to one, and then gets left unsatisfied as Christina lets her true feelings for him cross the psychic airwaves and fill him full of regret, or something like that. Anyway, it’s an excuse, albeit a long-winded one, to show a prestige car and some gratuitous nudity – male and female - which, in any other movie, could be seen as crass or vulgar but given the tone set by Robert and his cheeky Cockney accent we can forgive it. Besides, it helps liven things up before we get bogged down with more supernatural ju-ju nonsense that feels like it is from another movie.

 

And that is essentially what DEATH HAS BLUE EYES feels like – two ideas from two different movies weaved together to make an incoherent whole but if you are somebody who gauges how good a movie is from how much enjoyment you get from it over its technical aspects then this is probably as good as psychic action comedy crime thrillers get. In fact, you’ll probably be hard-pressed to name another genre mash-up as delightfully messy and stupid as this one. You’ll laugh, you’ll groan, you’ll probably even swear but you won’t be bored and you may even want to watch it again, reserving it for those occasions when you don’t know what you want to watch but you know you want something you’ll like.

 

As if the insanity that is the main feature isn’t enough, Arrow Video have included a short featurette celebrating Nico Mastorakis’s 80th birthday in which the filmmaker details his career and how DEATH HAS BLUE EYES got made in the first place, with phrases like ‘The King of Porn’ being used quite a bit regarding its producers. There is also an interview with star Maria Aliferi which is a bit more grounded. Overall, DEATH HAS BLUE EYES may not be an awards winner and is the complete opposite of where Nico Mastorakis would go with his more serious (read ‘not as much fun’) horror movies of the following decade, and it does take a viewer with a certain tolerance and appreciation for nonsense to get anything other than 80 minutes of laughter out of it but what’s wrong with being entertained by nonsense once in a while? As far as Arrow’s recent Nico Mastorakis Blu-ray re-releases go, this one may not be ‘the best’ on a technical level but is by far the most rewarding.

 

Chris Ward.

 

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