In a film-within-a-film we follow a crazy mother and the oddity that is her son. By controlling him she gets him to collect eyes for her, fresh from the people he has to kill. Meanwhile, a girl watching this movie on the big screen is having a panic attack over the events going on in the film and she suspects something similar to be happening around her.
This movie manages to do something that I think is rare - it manages to get you deeply involved in a film-within-a-film. For the first part of the movie it's the only story you follow. You know that it is a film-within-a-film but it never goes back to the audience until later in the film. The story you get involved with is the story of John, a near-blind man who still lives with his mother. His mother controls him through hypnosis. She can also hear what he hears and see what he sees. So he goes out killing people and carving out their eyes for her.
Then it jumps out to the movie theater where we are introduced to new characters. The two main ones being Linda and Patty. Linda is hooked into the movie, but Patty is scared shitless. She's on the verge of a breakdown, even. Not only because she thinks the movie is too brutal and, well, mindfucking. But when the film-within-the-film starts showing John killing people in a movie theater (while "The Lost World" is playing), she gets paranoid that the same thing is going to happen to her. And you know what? She's right. A guy obsessed with the movie starts killing people while people are killed within the film-within-the-film. It's not as confusing as my bad English makes it seem like!
It's a fun, creepy movie that manages to capture an atmosphere that feels like if Lamberto Bava's "Demons" was a slasher and had the style of Michele Soavi. It just goes from being a creepy slasher into a really mindbending surreal horror movie, where you never know if you care more about the film-within-the-film or just the..film. I'm intrigued!
The kills are all excellent, but of course the bloody ones are the best. The most excellent one is one of the first kills we see, where John kills a woman in a white room. Blood on white is never a bad thing, right? The effects are definitely not bad, but there aren't too many of them. Usually it's the carved-out eyes or the empty eye-sockets. But still the movie manages to feel like it's gory.
The Mother in the film-within-the-film (fuck it, I should've just called it by the fictional name from the beginning - "The Mommy") is played by Zelda Rubinstein, and it's probably no surprise that her voice is a bit.. ehmm.. Yeah, weird. In this movie it belongs! But she is rather creepy. Michael Lerner plays the slightly-retarded son/serial killer perfectly as well. Outside of these people I don't think anyone stood out, but two if better than none!
There's a comical tone through-out the movie but it's still very much a bizarre and creepy little horror movie that has reached a bit of a Cult status. I can now understand why, it's extremely charming and just as entertaining! A stylized giallo-influenced slasher with a surreal meta-twist!