Eyes of Laura Mars ★★★

A fascinating companion to Halloween, released the same year, though this is a pairing from which Carpenter himself would likely recoil. He gets a script credit here, but his early spec (titled simply Eyes) was apparently, in his words, "shat upon". As a functional mystery the film is indeed quite shitty, though it certainly sings in spots as a late-70s style piece and whacko melodrama.

But Laura Mars is most fascinating as the purest window into Carpenter's affinity for Dario Argento. Halloween has that dolly-bound killer-POV opening, so legendary in its own right that we tend to forget it's pulled from the giallo playbook. But as austere and sober as Halloween is, we find Laura Mars to be, in the great Italian tradition, hysterical and gaudy, alight with Argento's ocular fetish, his supernatural flirtations, his doublings and psycho-sexual twists. The climax finds the killer entering a room by jumping through a window--and then stabbing a mirror!

You're even tempted to imagine Argento, himself a great imitator, seeing Eyes of Laura Mars and perking up at the heavy-handed art/murder/morality stuff--doesn't it sound a heck of a lot like what Argento is assigning to his killer(s) in Tenebrae just a few years later?