Monday, November 05, 2007

FGFC: "Eyes of a Stranger"

Well it's that time again, time for the Final Girl Film Club. This time around the movie is ”Eyes of a Stranger”. Another flick from that magical year 1981, a year which brought us....wait I've already named off quite a bit of awesome that has come from 81 in previous posts...Still since I brought the year up ”An American Werewolf in London”...I'm just sayin, check it out would ya?

So ”Eyes of a Stranger” What to say? Well I had a tough time getting it from Netflix for a while but eventually a couple of weeks ago it actually did show up at my door which was cool. Then I watched it and was all ready to get this written down and put away to post well in advance. Sadly once I watched it and sat down I realized that I had nothin'. I sent the movie back and thought about it some more in the back of my mind, all the time planning on being able to sit down and write out something smart, something sexy, something relevant. That never happened, instead I spent the last week in an incredible amount of pain which culminated in a tooth being pulled, pain meds being distributed and me renting the movie from a local BB so that I could this time put something down(preying that the medicine induced haze help color my words)

I'm not sure if I've succeeded, but if I failed miserably at least I can blame the dentist this time (You hear that Doogie dentist? If this sucks I'm blaming and your impossibly young image)

The Basics

Miami, normally a nice warm sunny happy place to live suddenly finds itself the unfortunate host to a serial killer/rapist(John DiSanti). The killing is really just the end result of the killer, Stanley Herbert's activities. First he stalks his victims, then he uses the telephone to terrorize them even going as far as to telling them what he is going to do to them, and then finally he makes with the face to face(or belt to neck, same diff...right?).

Stanley thinks he is being pretty slick about his business but what he doesn't know is local television news anchor, Jane Harris(Lauren Tewes) is suspicious of him. he witnessed him pulling into their apartment complex's parking garage one evening in a bloody shirt and changing into a clean one before heading upstairs. Jane, who has been pretty vocal and a tad overzealous about the story while reporting on the news decides not to take her own advice. She embarks on her own personal investigation of Stanley.

Jane's investigation eventually leads to danger not only for Jane, but also Tracy(Jennifer Jason Leigh), Jane's deaf and blind sister.

What works for me

First and foremost the best thing for me all around in this flick was the work of Jennifer Jason Leigh. Not only was she believable as being deaf and blind. But she also managed to convey a bit of the disconnectedness that her character most likely would have had from the trauma that led to her handicap. This was mainly done during the scenes with Stanley where even though she was incredibly scared for herself she also was distant, her face blank much of the time.

One thing that could have gone either way but ultimately ended up on the good side of the coin for me was Stanley himself, ridiculous name aside of course. At times in the genre it seems like every killer is out for revenge, or has a destiny, or something of the like, but not Stanley. Stanley proves pretty quickly that the only reason he does what he does is because he is a real dick. The phone calls prove that. Then later on he really proves it in one of the flicks more suspenseful scenes as he plays head games with an unknowing Tracy.

And yes I'll jump on the bandwagon and say “Sorry, but your party is dead....” is an awesome tagline!

stuff that didn't quite work for me

So Jane is quite adamant about anyone who notices anything suspicious should inform the police while he is on camera but once she starts noticing things herself she decides to take things into her own hands?

Of course who could blame her as another thing that really bugs me in these movies happened here as well. There is a serial killer on the loose, the news is warning people to inform the police if anything is happening. Inevitably the killer starts harassing someone who subsequently calls the police only to be told “it's probably nothing” by the voice on the other end of the line. Maybe someone should write a movie where all of the 911 operators who get canned for being clearly inept band together and go on their own killing spree.

What was up with strip clubs in the 80s? Was this an accurate portrayal? I so why do clubs still exist today? Good lord both dancers that were shown in the movie were painful and the opposite of sexy, but the interesting part is they both reached this same road by two very separate paths...The booze back then must have been dynamite!

How many times has a quote very similar to the following been used to explain someone's ill advised antics in a movie? “I made a promise to myself that I would never let anything happen to Tracy ever again”.

Confusing Outcome

Ok so when Tracy was younger she was kidnapped and traumatized which left her deaf and blind. They weren't physical problems which means they were mental, ok got that. So then when Stanley nearly rapes Tracy it jolts her eyes and ears back into working. where does that leave these series of events for Tracy? I mean yeah it was bad for all of the other victims, but Tracy survived and in the long run is better for it. Doesn't that mean that in the end she and her sister Jane can't very well wish that it had never happened?

Final Thoughts

In the end “Eyes of a Stranger” left me with a very much “been there done that” feeling. There was very little new ground broken. With the exception of the Stanley/Tracy scene I didn't find anything truly intense.

It wasn't bad but at the same time I wouldn't go so far as to proclaim it as good either, all in all this comes down to a mediocre slasher film with a fantastic performance by Jennifer Jason Leigh, a few good effects, one slightly cool head in the fish aquarium gag, an awesome tagline, and very little else.

My verdict? Watch it if you are awake at 2am and you see it on HBO, but don't go out of your way to pick it up because you can do much better. '81 has a lot of real classics but this ain't one of em.

I'm just sayin'


Melizer said...

Oh wow! What movie is that last pic from?!

FatalPierce said...

That is Griffin Dunne's character Jack from "An American Werewolf in London". I'm not sure why I just really had that movie on my mind last night while writing.

Stacie Ponder said...

Yeah, Tracy's had a great life, huh?

I kind of loved that Jane was like...I don't know, vigilante anchorwoman. It was ridiculous, but so much fun to watch! The balcony scene was priceless.

FatalPierce said...

Yeah things could have gone much better in life for Tracy eh?

Actually now that I've thought about it more it is killing me that I didn't mention how Tracy was such a strong character. She was capable and as independent as possible given her problems. She even fought back at the end there when it counted...Or maybe I'm just overthinking.

I'll give you the balcony scene as well, did you see the look on the woman's face when Jane walked through their dining room? Talk about a near perfect reaction.