Directed by Ken Wiederhorn [Other horror films: Shock Waves (1977), Return of the Living Dead: Part II (1988), Dark Tower (1989)]
This is a somewhat well-known film that I’ve not seen until now, which is a shame, as it’s pretty good. It’s not amazing, but as a big fan of slashers, I have very little to complain about.
In many ways, I think the performances stand out more here than the gore, which isn’t necessarily common for many slasher films. Lauren Tewes does pretty well as the lead, though she’s not exactly the most exciting character. On the other hand, though, John DiSanti does a fantastic job as the sleazy, rather disturbing antagonist. We never really learn why DiSanti’s character has the psychosis he does, but that didn’t bother me much. His character is brutal, efficient, and pretty enjoyable to watch despite his atrocious acts.
Better than both DiSanti and Tewes, though, and the real stand-out in the film, is Jennifer Jason Leigh. She later went on to appear in both The Hitcher (1986) and the enjoyable television movie Buried Alive (1990). While this isn’t her first role, it is her first feature film, and as she plays a somewhat challenging character (someone who can neither see nor hear), she does amazingly. She feels like such a vulnerable person who, via flashback, we see had a very traumatic experience, so seeing her come into her own at the end was such a cheer-out-loud moment. I loved Leigh here, and her character is the one that you won’t likely forget after seeing this.
As I mentioned before, the gore is pretty decent, though it’s not really the showcase here. In many ways, this film feels a bit more like a thriller than a horror (and from my understanding, it was originally meant to be a thriller before they decided to move more toward the slasher direction), but we definitely get some gory scenes, along with some occasional nudity (actually, for a slasher that feels a bit more classy, I was a bit surprised by the amount of nudity in the film). It may not be a highlight, but if you’re a slasher fan, I don’t think there’s much to complain about.
And honestly, while I know the movie wasn’t perfect, off the top of my head, I have no major complaints. I enjoyed the plot well enough, and the suspenseful scene in which Tewes’ character is searching for evidence in the antagonist’s apartment was definitely on point. I guess they could have added in a few additional kills, but really, we got a decent body count here, so really, I can’t complain about that either.
Eyes of a Stranger isn’t necessarily a classic, but I do think it’s pretty overlooked, which is admittedly easy to do as the early 1980’s are somewhat over-saturated with slashers. I don’t think this movie’s anything overly flashy or even special, but I don’t have any real issues with the film, and the ending was one of the most satisfying sequences I’ve seen in a little while. If this is one that you’ve missed, I’d certainly look into it. Even if you don’t love it, it’s still a great way to spend an hour-and-a-half.
This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this slasher.
2 thoughts on “Eyes of a Stranger (1981)”