EYES OF A STRANGER
Amid the host of slasher films, Eyes of a Stranger was one of the more intelligent. For one, it actually had a plot. It has turned to an eminent source Alfred Hitchcocks Rear Widow (1954) and its plot of the voyeur who suspects that the person in the apartment opposite might be a murderer. John Di Santis killer even bears a strong physical resemblance to Raymond Burr, the killer in Rear Window. (Eyes of a Stranger was originally shot in 1979 as a more routine psycho-thriller but with the success of Friday the 13th was ordered back to reshoot more stalking scenes and add gore effects in order to pitch it as a slasher film). There are a few other cliches thrown into the mix as well the catatonically mute and blind victim who regains their senses just as they are being attacked a la The Spiral Staircase (1946); and the theme of the woman tv newscaster who becomes a focus of the stalker that was used in several other films around the same time Someones Watching Me (1978), The Seduction (1982), Visiting Hours (1982).
Of course, director Ken Wiederhorn is no Alfred Hitchcock and, despite the eminent pedigree of its set-up, Eyes of a Stranger quickly descends to slasher movie set-ups, not to mention comes with a cliche slasher movie score run over everything. Friday the 13ths Tom Savini is employed to create the gore effects and provides the films schlockiest moment the luridly entertaining moment where a victims boyfriends head turns up in a fish tank. There are some suspenseful sequences one scene where Lauren Tewes ventures into John Di Santis apartment, where he unexpectedly returns, senses something wrong and searches the apartment while she precariously hangs over the balcony by her fingertips. Wiederhorn mounts an effectively tense climax with John Di Santi entering the apartment and taunting the blind Jennifer Jason Leigh, moving away the plates and knives that she goes to pick up with her unable to see him there.
Eyes of a Stranger was notable at the time for starring Lauren Tewes, best known as a regular on tvs The Love Boat (1977-86). She is okay in the part, which merely requires her to be blonde and determined, if never demonstrates to the world that she was a great actress. Subsequently, the film became known as being the earliest screen appearance of Jennifer Jason Leigh. Leigh, in fact, gives the best performance in the film as the blind mute girl.
You also cannot help but think that Eyes of a Stranger is one of the films that modern 2010s telecommunications advances would render obsolete nobody has ever attempted to remake the film, for instance. Caller display would identify Lauren Tewes the moment she started calling to taunt the killer, while the killers use of phone boxes to call people is something that dont seem to exist in cities anymore.
Eyes of a Stranger was directed by Ken Wiederhorn who made the worthwhile Nazi zombies film Shock Waves (1976). Alas, Eyes of a Stranger would be the last semi-decent film that Wiederhorn would make and he subsequently went onto the likes of Meatballs Part II (1984), Return of the Living Part II (1988) and A House in the Hills (1993).