Looker (1981)

Looker (1981), written and directed by Michael Crichton.

I'd never heard of this until I saw it recommended as an overlooked SF thriller. It's low-intensity and I don't suppose Crichton will ever be listed among the great directors, but it has some historical interest and good people: Albert Finney, Susan Dey, James Coburn.

A Hollywood plastic surgeon finds that several of his patients have died suspiciously. All were actresses doing TV commercials. He latches on to the last one to protect her and they discover a sinister corporation working on commercial and political mind control techniques.

A lot of the material that was futuristic in 1981 is standard technology now: computer graphics, artificial characters in movies, motion capture, ads that are precisely tuned according to test audience response.

I don't think we have the neural zapper gun or hypnotic video images yet.

Much of the plot is actually wry commentary dressed up as a thriller: TV addiction and the perfection of beauty for commercial purposes. I didn't listen to the Crichton commentary track; maybe he discusses some of the hanging plot threads.

Painful synthesizer action score. And the "Looker" theme song.

Brief nudity.