Looker (1981) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • 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.

  • LAPD Lieutenant Masters questions Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Larry Roberts on the deaths of three of his patients. Those deaths look like they may be suicide, but they are also suspicious in their connection to Larry, who ends up being a suspect if they were indeed murdered. All three are television commercial actresses, who came in to Larry to have minor cosmetic surgery done, each with detailed specifications down to the millimeter of the work they wanted. All three were also beautiful to begin with, Larry who would have advised against having any surgery done if it wasn't for their specifications. What Larry does not divulge is that the third victim came back to him asking him to undo what he did, as "they" were out to get her for being too perfect. Another of Larry's patients, Cindy Fairmont, is going through what the other three already went through, and as such could be a fourth victim. Larry finds out that all four have connections to a technology research firm, Digital Matrix, led by Jennifer Long. Digital Matrix does much work for Reston Industries, led by John Reston, whose businesses include manufacture of several products and the production of television commercials. Jennifer is up front to Larry that they did do some work for Reston which involved technology to measure the perception of perfection of human subjects in commercials, which led the four actresses, unprompted, to get the cosmetic surgery done. However, Jennifer states that Digital Matrix abandoned that work, instead opting for 3D computer modeling of human subjects, those perfect computer models which could be used in place of the humans in television commercials, but for which the human subjects would get paid in perpetuity for the use of their likeness. Larry knows that Jennifer and Reston are not divulging all the work they are doing together in this matter, which could be the key to finding out what happened to the three victims, with both Cindy and Larry possibly victims number 4 and 5 if Jennifer and Reston find they are getting too close to the truth.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • A young blonde model called Lisa Convey (Terri Welles) appears in a commercial for Ravish, (narrated by John Erwin's voice) a perfume who claims to fulfill women's deepest desires. The model goes to Dr. Larry Roberts (Albert Finney), a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon with very specific demands, in the range of millimeters. Dr. Roberts is puzzled, but accepts because his business partner, Dr Jim Belfield (Darryl Hickman) says that if Roberts doesn't do it, a less competent surgeon will do it. The surgery is successful, and we see all the process taken place. The model goes back to her life, and in company of his dog Teddy is undressing up for her boyfriend Bob to arrive to her luxury flat. Somebody insists in ringing the bell, and she opens it up because she thinks it's Bob, but she can't see anyone. She feels a bit dazzled and confused. She looks around the flat, and notices her dog Teddy barking to the air. There seems to be nobody around, but the front door closes by itself, and Teddy gets stuck in a wardrobe, apparently all by itself. She notices an attaché with a gun missing, so she looks around. There is the silhouette of a man behind the curtains, but she can't see him. She gets dizzy again, wraps herself around one of the curtains until she falls down from her balcony. Then, the man takes his gun, leaves what appears to be a pen and a small brown bottom and leaves.

    Cindy Fairmont (Susan Dey) goes to Dr. Robert's with the same ideas than the previous model. She wants to be perfect. She chews gum all the time until he tells her to stop. She hits on him, but he rejects her advances. She is always working in television commercials and requests cosmetic surgery to make changes so minor that they would be imperceptible to the naked eye. When these models start dying under mysterious circumstances, he discovers they are all linked to the same advertisement research firm.

    Lieutenant Masters (Dorian Harewood) interrogates Dr. Roberts in his office, who has just told Cindy that she's already perfect. Masters inquires about Susan Wilson and Lisa, both apparently have committed suicide, and Dr. Roberts thinks that sometimes pretty women think that being physically more perfect will solve all their problems, but after surgery they realise their lives are no better. Masters think that they may have fallen in love with their doctor, which Dr. Roberts denies. Masters gives Roberts his pen back, and notices that his jacket has the same brown bottoms as in Lisa's flat. The secretary, Ellen (Donna Kai Benz),cannot find four files of four models who had exactly the same type of surgery.

    Another model arrives distraught: she says that they are killing all models who are perfect. She thinks that there are more things to the commercials that what meets the eye. She panics when she thinks that a mustached man has is already after her. She runs away, leaving her handbag behind. In it, there is a list of numbers. Roberts calls Masters. When he runs to the model's apartment, is already too late. There is a flash of light, and she jumps off the balcony. Roberts checks it and finds she's dead. He notices a mustached man (Tim Rossovich) looking out from the balcony. He goes up, but he arrives to the apartment, the man isn't there. Masters doesn't believe Roberts' story, but has to let him go. Back in his car, Roberts checks the list again: Tina Cassidy (Kathryn Witt), Lisa, Susan (Jeana Tomasina Keough), Cindy.

    Several models are shooting for a Lingerie photoshoot. Cindy is there, applying make-up, and Roberts claims to be a friend of Steve's (Paul Jasmin). Roberts asks Cindy to dine out with him, in a black-tie charity dinner, although it'd not be a date. First, Cindy says no, but she accepts when she knows that John Reston (James Coburn) is going to be there.

    Jennifer Long (Leigh Taylor-Young) greets them at the party, and tells them that Reston is gonna see them soon. He directs a huge company which does cosmetics, commercials, high-tech... They talk about Digital Matrix, who supposedly only deals with theoretical research. Jennifer tells John off, because he's told Roberts everything. John dismisses it, as Roberts - now talking to Candy (Ashley Cox) - cannot even begin to grasp the truth.

    Larry and Cindy cannot make love because she has to work the following morning, in Saturday. He takes her to work. Larry has to fall in the sand of the beach in a particular position. The director (Terry Kiser) and producer of the commercial (Barry Jenner) insists in repeating the scene again and again, because the producer assistant (Derrel Murray) says that the computer is not approving the parameters: it requires more energy, or more body twist, or the swimsuit to be tighter, etc... There is a lorry close to the shoot, and two technicians (Arthur Taxier & Richard Milholland) calculate the parameters as the cameras record it. The technicians get frustrated and decide to go to animation. Cindy is frustrated, because she can't match the instructions of the computer, matching its parameters. The produces decides to wrap it up at the beach and send Cindy to go to Digital Matrix to be scanned. The technicians close the door in Larry's face when they realise that he's looking at them. Larry offers to go with Cindy there. They drive past Masters, who's following Roberts.

    Jennifer offers a guide visit to Roberts. Looking at an advertisement, he only looks at the body of the model. The Digital Matrix research firm rates advertising models by using a scoring system that measures the combined visual impact of various physical attributes in television commercials. In an experiment to increase their scores, some models are sent to Dr Roberts to get cosmetic surgery in order to maximize their visual impact. After the surgeries are performed, though the models are now physically perfect, they still aren't as effective as desired, because if the models stand still, they get the perfect scores, but as soon as they start to move, their body positioning, facial gestures... decrease their scores. So the research firm decides to use a different approach. Each model is offered a contract to have their body scanned digitally to create 3D computer generated models and then animating them for use in commercials. The contract deals seem to be incredibly lucrative for the models: once their bodies are represented digitally, they get a paycheck for life, never having to work again since their digital model is used for all their future work in commercials. Cindy has to undress to be measured and digitalized

    Roberts steals a pass card from the recording laboratory, but the scanner technician (Terrance E. McNally) doesn't realise it. He leaves with Cindy.

    Jennifer realises that Larry has stolen that security card. Cindy feels suffocated because Larry doesn't lose her from sight. On the radio, news emerge about another model dying. Cindy realises she's in danger.

    Cindy is angry because Larry didn't tell her that she was in danger, and he can't protect her at all because he hasn't got a gun. She goes to her parents' (Georgann Johnson & Richard Venture), who laugh in front of the TV. She kisses them good night and is sad at them, because they keep on looking at the TV and don't pay attention to her at all.

    The mustached man approaches and nukes Dr Larry Roberts. He realises that the beach is full, then almost empty. The books are in disarray and two hours have passed. Luckily, he had disguised the security card. Two other further slips of memory happen, once while opening the toilet hand-sink tap, which overflows, and another while opening up his fridge.

    That night, Cindy and Larry go to the lab with that security card, but it won't open one of the lab's door. They enter a warehouse. A robot box appears to empty the paper bins automatically. It takes Cindy and Larry inside the lab they want when they sit on it. A commercial is on. Cindy thinks that they are over-acting, but Larry says that they are computer-generated; Cindy gets hooked on the commercials anyway, until Larry wakes her up.

    During his investigation, Roberts discovers some advanced-technology devices the Digital Matrix corporation is using to hypnotize consumers into buying the products they advertise. He also discovers the L.O.O.K.E.R. (Light Ocular-Oriented Kinetic Emotive Responses) gun, a light pulse device that gives the illusion of invisibility by instantly mesmerizing its victims into losing all sense of time.

    While Larry explains everything to Cindy, the mustached man is there. With the gun, Larry feels that Cindy has disappeared, and he feels punched by an invisible man. Cindy is frozen in time. Larry can see the mustached man's reflection. He puts on some special sunglasses which will make him impervious to the light gun. With that, he attacks the mustached man, and realises how it all really works.

    Larry takes Cindy out of the lab, with all the alarms blaring out. Larry talks to John Reston, who is preparing another commercial. Cindy is left to rest. With the gun, Larry investigates further, but there is smoke and Cindy has been taken. They try to shoot him.

    Masters and his assistant (Anthony Charnota) investigate the shooting. The mustached man tries to kill Roberts while driving. He almost runs over some nuns. Finally, the mustached man lights him, and puts him and his car into a fountain. He wakes up to be surrounded by police officers and witnesses, all hypnotised. He enters a police car and tries to talk to them. The police officers are hypnotised as well, so they behave in a strange way. Larry does to same and disguises himself with one of the police uniforms of the cops.

    Renson is giving a press conference and a party. During his speech, Cindy is handcuffed with Jennifer backstage. John keeps on talking in spite of seeing Larry. The mustached man points his gun to Larry. Candy gives Larry the opportunity to run away without intending it.

    Larry gets into the sets of the commercials. Jennifer controls the diverse rooms and moves them around. One of the sets resembles the White House. Senator Robert Harrison (Michael Hawkins or Giansborough) is making a speech; but actually, it's not him, but a digital version of himself. His eyes shine with an electronic blue light - suggesting that he's hypnotizing his viewers. Ironically, he's making a speech about personal freedom and responsibility, pro-environment, anti-corruption. Then, without continuity, there is a break and a commercial of Cindy's digital image advertising a cleaning liquid. Everybody laughs. The mustached man shoots Jennifer, thinking she was Larry. Jennifer manages to get back to the lab, even though she's badly hurt. Cindy tries to get the key to her handcuffs, but Jennifer wakes up for a second and pushes her aside. Renson enters the set as well: too many people in an enclosed space. Meanwhile, the audience laughs at the commercial of an elderly couple (Joseph G. Medalis & Estelle Omens) in bed. Larry hides inside a car. Outside, the audience sees the mustached man moving around the car and the car itself, but with a model (Melissa Prophet) talking about the car in a commercial. The model has been added digitally. The audience also sees Larry using his gun, and the windshield breaking at gunpoint. Renson is also seen in the commercial. The next commercial is even weirder: the dead body of the mustached man is on top of a table, and around that table, two children (Allison Balson & Adam Farrar) and their parents (Dick Christie & Katherine De Hetre) talk about Oaties cereal, saying that they are the cereal people eat when they are tired of having the same for breakfast. Cindy has released herself from the handcuffs. Jennifer is completely dead, and Renson sees her when he calls for the lift. He goes up to the control room. Cindy hides under the desk so as not to be seen. Renson goes gown to the set again to kill Larry Roberts. Masters is there as well. Renson shoots Larry but fails, and Masters kills him. Renson dies on the set of the Spurt commercial.

    Larry and Cindy leave together, in love. He comments on the bruises the cuffs have caused on her wrists, and claims that he can't cure her because he can't perform on the people he dates. They leave the set hand in hand.

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