Wednesday, October 19, 2011

31 Days of '81 Horror: Looker (Michael Crichton)

Like Westworld before and Jurassic Park after, Looker is a Michael Crichton conceived (he wrote and directed the film) adventure thriller concerning the price one pays for the pursuit of perfection. But instead of focus on recreating the Wild West with robots or splicing DNA to resurrect dinosaurs, the focus here is the prescient study of modifying one’s appearance to the vague concept of flawlessness.

Dr. Larry Roberts (Albert Finney) is a playboy Beverly Hills plastic surgeon who discovers a conspiracy when investigating the death of several of his patients, all actresses and models, that leads him to a shadowy organization (aren’t they all?) lead by John Reston (James Coburn), whose next target is commercial actress and potential Dr. Roberts’ love interest Cindy Fairmont (Susan Dey).

While the investigation of the themes surrounding the possible horrific ramifications of perfecting one’s body Looker offers are only skin deep (har har) and never as probing or reaching as David Cronenberg’s work, it still has its share of ridiculous fun moments. Chiefly amongst these are a ray gun that enables the target unconscious, and waking in another time and space, which is liberally (and quite frankly inconsistently) used to great effect, especially in a car chase between Finney and 80’s henchman favorite Tim Rossovich (succinctly and appropriately credited as “Moustache Man”). The conclusion also is a blast, with an almost Looney Tunes level of inspired zaniness involving a chase through videos of commercials. Crichton employed actual television commercial directors of the era to craft realistic reproductions of their work.

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