Back when I was a teenager, there was a “mom and pop” video store down the block from me, and the punk rock dude that ran the place would let me rent anything I wanted. So practically every other day, I’d stop by there and rent just about every horror title I could get my little hands on. After all, we had so much to choose from in the late 80’s/early 90’s after the golden age of the “slasher” films. But I guess despite it all, there were a few gems that slipped through my rental queue that I never got to experience. EYES OF A STRANGER was one of them that up until now, I had never seen. And to be honest, I think it’s pretty neat to be able to pluck a movie out from that era and experience it for the first time now as an adult.
The film’s about this creepy murderer/rapist terrorizing the streets of Miami. He stalks his victims, follows them home and prank calls them dozen’s of times before finally striking. (And when I say prank call, I mean like “Black Christmas”-freaky as hell kinda shit!) Lauren Tewes plays a television newscaster Jane Harris who emphasizes the importance for people to be more proactive in volunteering details that might help catch this lunatic. She also carries a great burden of guilt for her younger sister Tracy (a very young Jennifer Jason Leigh), whom as a kid she accidentally let get kidnapped when she wasn’t watching her. The entire traumatic ordeal has left Tracy both blind and mute.
Here’s the neat part of this flick. The killer’s identity isn’t that much of a mystery by the end of the first act. Jane actually spots this sleazebag changing his “bloody” shirt in the parking lot of the apartment complex they both live in. That’s right, the killer lives in the building right across from hers. She decides to turn the tables and begins crank calling him. She starts following him and begins searching for hard evidence and proof of who he truly is. This all leads to a tense and satisfying conclusion that just can’t be missed.
What can I say? I really loved this movie. It was totally creepy (slightly sleezy too) and had great performances from Lauren Tewes, Jennifer Jason Leigh and even the killer, John DiSanti. While this easily could’ve been edited slightly differently to give it the tag of “thriller”, it’s not. It’s a straight up “slasher” flick from the same production crew that released FRIDAY THE 13th the previous year. And they deliver on a few gory moments through-out.
You know who’d love this movie? Bad kids! And the ultimate bad kid I know is Icons staffer John Torrani (who once in a blue moon writes a column for us called “MOVIES THE BAD KIDS LIKE”). Let me ask you if the following stuff sounds “naughty” to you. Rape, murder/rape, harassing phone calls, kidnapping, stalking, moving things around on a blind person, slapping and attempted rape of a handicapped girl and a beheading via meat cleaver. This movie has all those things and more. So if you’re a “bad kid” and like “bad things”, this movie’s for you.
Again, no features, but considering this has become somewhat of a “lost” cult-classic, just having it on DVD is great. Plus it’s presented in widescreen like all the other “TWISTED TERROR” titles. Highly recommended, especially if you’re a fan of 80’s “slasher” movies. –Robg.
Buy it on Amazon.com!