Saturday, December 11, 2010

Backup Dancers From Hell: Kim Carnes - “Bette Davis Eyes”

We start out with an odd, sparsely furnished room where someone has hung some really crappy curtains on the single window. There appears to be someone lying on a coffin-shaped platform at the other end of the room, but it’s not clear. To help us out, the camera person zooms in on this platform. (During our journey, take note of the silhouette on the left wall, which appears to be Bette Davis doing one of her signature poses involving cigarettes and/or the belittlement of lesser actors in the movie.)

Yep, we finally see that it’s a person on that platform, wrapped in a big-ass black veil. Somebody turns on a wind machine, and the veil slips away, so that we can see Kim, wearing sunglasses at night and already singing. The camera jumps around a little bit, so we can see more of the arty Bette Davis silhouettes and Kim’s blowing golden locks. Kim is still lying on the coffin platform, so we don’t know if she’s making a statement or is just really tired.

Cut to Kim finally standing up and performing with her band, with the members all sporting outfits with a vague Shakespeare-on-acid theme. (And, hey folks, we can finally quit looking for Waldo. He’s on the right playing keyboards.) Kim sings for a while and really likes to wave her hands around. (Maybe she misses the wind machine from the first scene.)

Now we have folks in the weird outfits climbing down from some scaffolding. (No telling what they did while they were up there.) Kim suddenly and dramatically points off to her right, which inspires lots of hands wearing black gloves to be thrust into the air. And look at that, Kim has her own matching black glove. She holds it in front of the camera so we can confirm that, yep, it’s a black glove.

Then the people in the strange outfits are rising up from the dance floor and throwing off black veils. (Nap time is over, kiddies, ready for a juice box?) These people start slapping each other to the beat of the song. (Well, except for one couple that doesn’t seem to really understand what a “beat” is.) This goes on for quite some time while Kim continues to sing, not minding the domestic violence in her audience.

The weird people finally grow weary of slapping each other, and start slapping the floor. They do this for a while as well. (At 1:46 an unseen car turns on its high-beams and catches Kim in the lights.) Finally, the slapping people give it up and go do something else for a while. It’s just Kim and her band, with Kim continuing to gesture dramatically and make sure that we can see her black glove.

Well, the weird people didn’t stay away very long because now they’re all over the place again. But at least for the moment they are trying to do normal dancing and not beat each other to death. We roll into a montage of dancing, black gloves reaching for the sky, Kim back on the coffin box with the black veil holding down her hair, and Kim doing the now-patented move where she covers her eyes with one hand and then slides the hand to the side. (At 2:21, I believe Kim gets electrocuted, but it’s not entirely clear.)

The slapping returns at one point, so somebody on the production team really likes that action. We also have shots of just the band playing. (What in the world is that one woman doing back there, jiggling around the silver kaleidoscopes? Could she possibly look any more bored?)

Then we get to the really creepy part. All of the weird people are lined up on one side of the room, and as the music continues, they start slap-walking their way toward the band. And not in a “aren’t we cute!” kind of way. More like plutonium got in the drinking water and these people have turned, salivating and intent on violent death at their hands.

They advance on Kim, who is standing there alone. (Apparently the rest of the band wised-up and headed for the hills.) Kim seems to believe that simply pointing with her gloved hand will make the madness stop, but it doesn’t. The snarling people-animals close in on Kim as she tries to get the last words of the song out.

Final shot is where we started, with a veiled Kim lying on that coffin box.

So, did she release this song from beyond the grave? Maybe.


Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.

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