Eyes Of A Stranger (1980)

DECEMBER 2, 2008


I wonder how much smaller my DVD collection would be if I didn’t have so many movies like Eyes Of A Stranger, which I certainly had no desire to own, but came in a box set with Dr. Giggles, Deadly Friend, and The Hand, movies I DID want to own. I actually forgot that I had the movie entirely, and came across it for no reason other than the fact that I managed to watch all my Blockbuster/Netflix movies and haven’t gotten any new ones in the mail yet.

Another movie in that set was John Carpenter’s underwhelming TV movie Someone’s Watching Me!, which Eyes resembles in more than a couple ways. Both involve creepy phone calls, the heroine is a newscaster, and their cat and mouse situation is intensified by the fact that they live across from one another. And I can’t recall for sure, but I’m pretty sure the killer’s identity was known from like the halfway point, with no other suspects to choose from in that movie as well.

The biggest difference is that this one WASN’T a TV movie, and thus it has a lot of swearing, some gore, and unabashed nudity (including a young Jennifer Jason Leigh). It’s actually kind of glorious to see such an anti-PC movie of this type; the Ashley Judds and Uma Thurmans of the world have dulled the “Woman stalked by Serial Killer” genre into nothingness, so to see the killer cause genuinely upsetting trauma to his victims (he’s also a rapist, so he fondles Leigh all over and shoves his tongue down her throat) is actually sort of novel.

But it doesn’t matter, because it’s still a dull movie. The lack of any sort of suspense regarding the killer’s identity really hurts it, because it was all the movie had going for it (like Feardotcom, the killer is inexplicably hidden from view for a while only to be casually and un-climactically revealed in a non-surprise way). Could it be our heroine’s boyfriend? Her fellow newscaster? Or the repairman guy who she keeps manipulating so she can snoop? Nope, it’s... the guy she thinks it is right from the start. Nail-biting suspense! To be fair, the finale is kind of creepy, since Leigh’s character is blind and the guy is just sort of walking around the apartment with her. Still, you knew she wouldn’t get killed, so it’s sort of dull too.

Back to the boyfriend, this movie has the most annoying conversation in movie history. He’s a lawyer, so naturally he only speaks in law-based double entendres. So she’s about to leave his bed to go to work, and he says “I can always serve you a restraining order.” (she leaves) “Hey, I was just about to start my closing argument!” (she tells him they can talk later) “You know I’m at the end of my probationary period!” Objection! Shut the fuck up! He’s also the most ignorant dick in the world, expressing complete astonishment that Leigh is able to swim despite her handicap.

Hilariously, on the back of the DVD, it boasts that it’s from the “Production company behind the original Friday the 13th”. I had to look up exactly who they meant (Georgetown Productions Inc), and in the process discovered that the writer of this movie was actually F13 writer Ron Kurz, using the odd pseudonym of Mark Jackson (must be his production company). But I love that that was the best thing they could come up with to try to entice viewers. Like, “From the director of” or even “the producer of” is one thing, but “The Production Company”? Who the fuck would care? That reminds me of when the Onion made a joke that a movie was being touted as “From the studio that brought you Remember the Titans”, which became prophetic when studios actually DID begin using such non-connective claims on their films (mostly Sony, proudly pointing out that Daddy Day Camp was from the studio that brought you Daddy Day Care, because the 6 year old intended audience hates it when a franchise switches studios!). I can only hope that someday, a movie is sold on the fact that it has the composer of Con Air attached.

Oh, the occasional gore effect in the movie is courtesy of Tom Savini (so the production company AND the makeup effects artist of F13!), which means it’s pretty great stuff. There’s a de-capped head in a fishtank early on that’s pretty much the highlight of the movie.

To bring the review full circle, I looked up what the tradein value was for this movie, since I’d rather have shelf space than continue to own it. I would get 5 cents, which is the lowest I’ve ever seen for a tradein (to compare, they’d at least give me a buck for Dark Ride). So I’ll probably end up keeping it, in case I ever want to trade the entire box set back someday. For the record, that would net me a cool 11 bucks, probably on the strength of Dr Giggles alone.

What say you?

1 comment:

  1. I think you've gone banana monster, sir. Eyes of a Stranger is a far superior movie to Dr. Giggles, and better than Deadly Friend as well. The scene leading up the the Grand Fishtank Decapitation is genuinely suspenseful, the movie looks nice and has Savini effects, and the acting, by and large, is good. It was no problem to me that the killer - played by none other than J.J. "Gross Out" Gumbrowski - was known throughout the movie. Keeping him hidden just made those early scenes better, and revealing him was necessary for the movie to enter its cat-and-mouse phase in Act II.

    However I agree with you about the lame-ass lawyer talk. But I'd grant this movie a suspended sentence.


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