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Home | The Art of Ocular Violence – Eye Violence in Horror

The Art of Ocular Violence – Eye Violence in Horror

Hello there and welcome to my little corner of the video store. Don’t mind all of the strange looks the other customers are giving you. I know what you are here for and today is your lucky day. I have some suggestions for you to keep your EYE out for. You might want to listen up because you SEE today I’m going to show you some tapes that contain something any of you reading this will be scared of. Today I’m going to show you some titles that contain scenes of violence against the eye.

An eyeball being stabbed or cut on film is hardly a new phenomenon. One of the earliest examples of this can be found in Luis Bunceal and Salvador Dali’s 1929 French silent film Un Chien Andalou. In the film a woman’s eye is slit with a straight razor. The French haven’t forgotten about eye violence even ninety years later, films like Inside and Ils both contain their share of ocular violence. 

Inside shows a man get blinded by the antagonist known only as La Femme, he snaps back to consciousness in one of the more frightening scenes and begins to attack anyone who comes near him viciously with his club. Ils contains a scene in which our female protagonist looks through a peephole only to have a nail shoved through the other side intent on impaling her soft eyeball.

The Italians however aren’t going to let the French have all of the fun. Lucio Fulci pretty much made his career out of filming graphic depictions of death, in a lot of these scenes there is more than a handful of eyes being stabbed. 

The most infamous of these scenes of course is the splinter scene in his 1979 gore hound classic Zombie. In the scene a female protagonist hides in a house from a flesh eater outside. The zombie punches through the door (lets see one of Romero’s do that!!) and grabs a hold of the woman’s hair. Slowly the rotting assailant brings the woman closer and closer towards him, not minding of course that her wide open eye is in the direct path of a piece of splintered wood. The tension of the scene is of course amplified by the woman’s screams and the music as she is pulled closer and closer. Of course we the viewers are reward with the money shot, if you will, as the woman looks towards the camera screaming with a splinter of wood embedded in her eye socket.

Fulci wasn’t the only Italian to POKE fun at eye violence though. Dario Argento also threw in his hat, most notably with his 1987 film Opera. Opera plays out almost like a showcase for ocular violence as the antagonist constantly tapes nails under a young under study’s eyes forcing her to watch as he graphically murders everyone who gets in her way to stardom (yeah its kind of like a gory Phantom of the Opera).

If that wasn’t enough for you there is also a scene in which a woman is killed by the antagonist firing a pistol through a peephole, a scene that was later recreated in modern torture p*rn films such as Saw 2. Of course being Argento the film is a mystery and how the killer is discovered is yet another great scene involving a murder of raven’s intent to tear out his eyes.

Horror films aren’t the only films to display violence against the eye. Action and revenge films also have jumped onto the bandwagon; after all it is an uncomfortable thing to watch. In BO A. Vibencus’s 1974 revenge opus Thriller: A Cruel Picture the beautiful Christina Lindberg plays a prostitute that has her eye gouged out by an angry pimp. Even more disturbing is that it is rumored that the scene was filmed using a real corpse.

Christina’s eye patch wearing vigilante of course would come to inspire modern director Quentin Tarantino when he created his Kill Bill films. Tarantino’s Elle Driver look is directly inspired by Christina’s, and the Kill Bill films also have more than just a couple scenes of eyes being plucked out, and stepped on.

For the hardened horror fan however watching these scenes on a screen isn’t enough. Luckily for them several 3D films have sprung up bringing the knives out into the faces of those brave enough to watch.

Among these of course is Friday the 13th part 3D. Before the killing even starts there is a scene in which a tramp holds an eyeball out towards the camera right into our faces. In fact the very first time that we see Jason wearing his iconic hockey mask he walks onto the screen and fires a harpoon right into a young coed’s eye. The harpoon of course comes straight out of the screen towards the viewers own eyes.

Jason inst done however, there is also the scene in which he squashes a young mans head as if he is testing a melon. The money shot here of course is the young mans eyes are popped out of their sockets right into the viewers faces.

Modern 3D slasher film My Bloody Valentine 3D also contains its share of violence. In one of the first scenes in which we see Harry Warden he slams his pick ax through a young mans skull pushing the young mans eye ball out into the our faces. There are in fact so many pick ax vs. the eye battles in the film that it is almost pointless to point each and every one of them out.

Let’s go to the other end of the spectrum, even those unintentionally funny genre films have their scenes of eye balls being stabbed. Take for instance Bruno Mattei’s horrid zombie masterpiece Hell of the Living Dead aka Night of the Zombies. I’m sure most of you reading this already know about this nugget of a stinker. The film is full of stock footage, and it blatantly plagiarizes Goblins score to the Italian version of Dawn of the Dead. If one however does decide to sit down through this film they are rewarded at the end with a wonderful scene of ocular violence involving the main female protagonist eyes being pushed out of their sockets by the hungry flesh eaters behind her.

In the more hard edged horror department we have Stuart Gordon’s Lovecraftian piece From Beyond, a film I have reviewed for this website. There are several scenes of violence involving the “awakened” Crawford sucking out victim’s eyes just so he can get to their brain, the only thing that seems to sustain his appetite. Even Stuart’s wife couldn’t resist the fun as her death is probably the most graphic of all of the deaths shown in the film.

Random objects finding their way into the soft tissue of the eye ball is hardly a new phenomenon. It is something that each of us secretly do fear, a violent act that leaves us with a permanate disability. The eye and violence against it however is just another tool at the disposal of genre directors and FX artists. As long as we are there to watch the film, they will be there threatening us with what could easily be taken away.

Make sure you come back to my corner again. I have such SIGHTS to show you.

The Art of Ocular Violence – Eye Violence in Horror

One comment

  1. I finished playing Dead Space 2 yesterday, and there is a brutal eye scene in the game that you the player controls. The results of succeeding the scene was almost worse than when I failed it. *shudders


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