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Looker (1981) - Blu-ray Review

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Looker (1981) - Blu-ray Review

4 beers

Think Tron was the first to use computer graphics to create characters with?  If you do, then Looker, now available on blu-ray thanks to the Archive Collection from Warner Bros, has the education you need.  Released on the eve of Halloween in 1981, Looker might not have enjoyed the Disney supported budget that Tron did, but the first computer-generated character is right here as a woman named Cindy.

Looker, with a STRONG synth score from songwriter Barry De Vorzon, is full of surprises.  Of everything it correctly predicts about what the future might hold, the idea that television - a truly voluntary thing - would do more to sway people than education itself is indeed at the forefront here.   

But the film begins with the idea of plastic surgery.  We have all heard of the pros and the cons of going under the knife.  Sometimes the patient gets that much closer to perfection.  Other times, well, let’s just say that a price is paid.  Michael Jackson anyone?  Our standards of beauty are beyond ridiculous.  That’s only the starting point of this science fiction satirization on our obsession with how we look and the poor souls who fall victim to it.

"With a solid gumshoe approach to its futuristic swagger, Looker and its computer-generated images is yet another FUTURESHOCK warning from Michael Crichton."


These women – all blonde, all beautiful (one of them is Susan Dey for crying out loud) – might be the tiniest bit flawed.  But they are, as Aerosmith sang, “Beyond Beautiful” and their arrival at a plastic surgeon’s office is met with the appropriate levels of sarcasm.  But the girls are convinced.  Someone or something is telling them that they aren’t perfect…but they could be and be handsomely paid for their dedication to beauty.

Maybe it shouldn’t be that way but there is always a consequence when your one desire is to be the Looker.  And that’s exactly what happens when Dr. Larry Roberts (Albert Finney) starts making alterations to the actresses and models who come to him seeking his assistance: a price is paid.  They are expecting a paycheck for life.  What they get is killer surprise.  And when Roberts finds there is a link between the girls and a company called Digital Matrix, which does some suspiciously hypnotic research for a man named John Reston (James Coburn), he finds himself having to protect his own handiwork AND his name.

Written and directed Michael Crichton (yes, THAT Crichton), Looker highlights the saga and strife of these LA Girls before diving straight into a murderous mystery involving a futuristic gun and a pretty cool way to film a man getting punched.  It might be a little slower in some parts, but the film, commentary and all, definitely does not disappoint.  This is not a potboiler, but it is deserving of a new audience.

The girls who get involved in preserving their good looks via computer want to always be seen as attractive and definitely do not want their agents to stop calling.  Beauty is big business.  The mystery here begins with a glamorous commercial shoot, highlighting the pressure women face in the world to always look good. 

Soon, after a rather routine procedure, Roberts’ latest patient is killed in her apartment.  And then another is killed. What IS going on here?

Suddenly, all the girls who have gone under his scalpel are afraid – not for their career but for their life – and when he tries to warn one of his former patients of a possible threat, he winds up witnessing a bizarre murder.  The poor girl is tossed from her apartment window and comes crashing down on a car below.  It is a dramatic death.  In slow motion.

Turns out, there is well-mustached man (Tim Rossovich) dropping these girls.  But why?  The police – represented here by Lieutenant Masters (Dorian Harewood) – are more interested in questioning Roberts than they are hearing about a computer company designed to make digital copies of perfect women for use in films and commercials FOREVER.  Spooky stuff. 

Looker (1981) - Blu-ray Review

Well-acted and haunting, Crichton’s thriller is both bizarre and engaging.  The aesthetic throughout the production doesn’t cease to exist with the cool poster or the sweet soundtrack.  The actual design of Looker is clearly advanced. 

The way the science fiction elements are weaved in and out of mystery here never overshadow the narrative and, thanks to a cool atmosphere, remain perfectly plausible.  Even the casting of an ex-football player as the main killer is believable.  Heh heh. 

With a solid gumshoe approach to its futuristic swagger, Looker and its computer-generated images is yet another FUTURESHOCK warning from Michael Crichton.  It is now available to own on Blu-ray.

Looker (1981) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime:
98 mins
Director
: Michael Crichton
Writer:
Michael Crichton
Cast:
Albert Finney, James Coburn, Susan Dey
Genre
: Sci-fi
Tagline:
If looks could kill...
Memorable Movie Quote: "You probably think I'm beautiful, Dr. Roberts, but I'm not. I have lots of defects to fix. I have a list right here."
Theatrical Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site:
Release Date:
November 16, 1976
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 30, 1981
Synopsis: Plastic surgeon Larry Roberts performs a series of minor alterations on a group of models who are seeking perfection. The operations are a resounding success. But when someone starts killing his beautiful patients, Dr. Roberts becomes suspicious and starts investigating. What he uncovers are the mysterious - and perhaps murderous - activities of a high-tech computer company called Digital Matrix.

Looker (1981) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Warner Archive Collection
Available on Blu-ray
- September 18, 2018
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

With a new 2K scan of the original camera negative, Warner Brothers gives fans of this little shocker something to celebrate.  The images are crisp and detailed and retain their edges throughout the rain and the mud and the chicken house.  Framed in a tight 2.41:1 aspect ratio, this 1080p transfer is good, good stuff.  Colors are bold.  Shadows run deep and the crisp textures in the walls and in the backgrounds of this slasher are focused.  The DTS-HD stereo soundtrack is perfectly suited for Crichton’s film.  The soundtrack might not be a constant thing, but when it is present, it deserves to be celebrated.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Crichton has recorded a commentary for the film.  It is an older one, but its presence here on this release makes perfect sense.

Special Features:

Fans get an introduction from Crichton, a deleted scene, and a theatrical trailer.

  • • Crichton Introduction
  • • Deleted Scene
  • • Trailer

Looker (1981) - Blu-ray Review

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