"Let's talk about you, Mr Phone Freak."
Do you ever glom onto a film for some reason- usually some unknown reason- to the point where you're all "I really, really, really have to see this movie. Nothing else matters until I have seen it! My desire to see this movie supercedes all of my other desires...I can concentrate on nothing else! Only after I've seen this film can I finally focus on other important matters, like curing cancer or perfecting my fudge recipe"? I totally do. And for some reason, I glommed onto Eyes of a Stranger (1981) a looong time ago- I don't know, I read about it somewhere or something and it became this movie I just had to see. No one had ever said that it was particularly good, or particularly scary, or even very notable for anything at all. Yet there I was, every so often on eBay or Amazon or whatevs, toying with the notion of buying a copy of the long out-of-print videotape. In the end, it was always way too pricy for me and Eyes of a Stranger continued to elude my grasp.
No, I don't get it, either.
Finally my desires to see this film have been whetted, thanks to the magic of DVD. And...? What of it? Was it worth the wait?
Fuck yeah! Are you kidding? No, it wasn't great...but then, yes, it was great. A tracksuited Lauren Tewes as that old slasher flick staple, the mouthy anchorwoman in peril? Jennifer Jason Leigh as a blind-deaf-mute? Head in a fishtank? 1981? Yes folks, Eyes of a Stranger has it all, including the best strip club routine EVAR.
Some creep is raping and killing women all around Miami, and it's up to intrepid and opinionated anchorwoman Jane Harris (Tewes) to stop him! Why is it up to an anchorwoman to stop a rapist/murderer, you ask? Because she says so, that's why. It seems that Jane has a real problem with weirdo rapists, after an incident in which her little sister Tracy (Leigh) was kidnapped and, one assumes, raped. The trauma rendered Tracy a blind-deaf-mute (it's all psychological, see), and Jane harbors huge amounts of guilt since she left Tracy alone that fateful day.
At any rate, Jane gets her Nancy Drew on and after discovering a bunch of circumstantial evidence, decides that Stanley Herbert (John DiSanti), the creepy weirdo who lives across the way, is Miami's serial rapist/killer.
Are Jane's deductions correct? Will she turn the tables on the cuckoo nutso? How many times can she break into Herbert's apartment before she's caught? Will she move in with her pushy boyfriend? Will Tracy ever see, hear, or speak again? The answers to all of these questions- and more!- can be found at the business end of a pistol wielded by an anchorwoman in a track suit.
Though Eyes of a Stranger leans more toward 'thriller' than it does 'slasher', it's not without its effective sequences. There are echoes of Black Christmas (1974) as the killer calls and harasses his intended victims; there are echoes of Friday the 13th in the musical score, and there are echoes of He Knows You're Alone when someone's head ends up in a fishtank (which is totally gonna throw off the pH levels in the water; killing humans is one thing, but killing goldfish is quite another, Mr Rapist Killer Weirdo!). The stalking sequences are lengthy and tense (particularly the one in which Herbert is alone in the apartment with Tracy), and the rare instances of gore are all the more shocking- thanks, of course, to Tom Savini.
In addition to the nods to other films (whether they're intentional or not, I have no clue), there are also a few Easter eggs for horror fans hidden throughout: Jane and her boyfriend David take in a showing of Dawn of the Dead, while in another sequence Shock Waves is playing on t.v.- Shock Waves, of course, is another film by Eyes director Ken Wiederhorn.
Wow, nerd alert.
I hope the next film on my "must see for whatever bizarre reason" list is as much fun as Eyes of a Stranger. But more importantly, what has happened to the anchorwoman in peril motif? If there's one thing the world needs now- now more than ever!, it's more sassy anchorwomen fighting weirdos. Let's start an online petition!
Give it up, y'all, for the Film Club Coolies!
7 Dollar Popcorn
More Than Meets the Mogwai
Evil on Two Legs
Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot