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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Terror Eyes (1989)

The eighties had a lot of anthologies like Cat’s Eye, Body Bags, and Creepshow. But for every classic like those we had lesser filmmakers cobbling together short films with some sort of wraparound to make a feature film they could dump on the ravenous home video market. Many times they were painfully bad. Where does Terror Eyes fall? Might as well pop it in and see.

There is a wrap around story that is supposed to connect the shorts containing the meat of the movie. Here we have a woman named Eva who is an ad executive. We find out thru some dialogue that her boss has unexpectedly tasked her with writing a script to a horror movie. Why? Don’t know and it is never explained as we never see her boss. Though there is a hint that the devil or some demon is the motivation. I guess that evil needed another crappy direct to VHS horror movie release. Seriously that is the plot. We see Eva hammering away at a keyboard when a story suddenly interrupts her.

The Book of Life sees a couple getting ready to go out. Hey wait a minute… yeah that is the same actress that plays Eva as the woman dealing with her redneck husband laying on the couch. So it is going to be one of those movies where the same actors are cast in different roles. Okay movie I got it. A salesman shows up and offers them the book of life. Yeah, that isn’t spooky at all. It turns out that the book is predicting Troy’s (the lay about husband) life or maybe just letting them know what is coming. When they skip to the end it says he kills himself. In an attempt to prevent that he dumps acid on it and sure enough melts himself.

See what happened there? Yep, they jammed in one of the most predictable tropes of horror in and thought no one would notice. This story is utterly predictable and had me waiting for it to just be done with. The second the book showed up I knew exactly what was going on and sadly had seen this executed so much better elsewhere. Though the melting Troy special effect was decent and the best gag in the movie it wasn’t enough for me to change my mind. They have to get better than this right? I mean you never lead with the best story first… Damn it.

Roebuck chewing up the scenery
When the Book of Life story ends we see Eva waking up from a nightmare. Basically the same nightmare we just watched. Daniel Roebuck is her husband and was also the door to door salesman that we just saw deliver the book. She has trouble getting back to sleep and we see that someone is watching her from outside. Wait a minute. I thought this was supposed to be her listening to friends tell spooky stories when the went camping so she could steal them for her script. Now there is someone stalking her? And she just had a nightmare that had nothing to do with her friends telling stories. Movie make up your mind! They do eventually go camping so cool or maybe not.

Before her friends start telling stories her husband, Richard, goes to take a pee and a demon or maybe the devil gasses him. I’m not kidding here that is what happens. Then he takes his place and goes to the campfire to “encourage” the stories. Then they start to tell their spooky tales.

 Manny’s story is that he used to be a scumbag. He was at the track checking in with his bookie. He made some bad bets and owed big, but to pay things off with Mike (the bookie) he has agreed to sneak in and rob his wife’s safe. Seems that Mike is a kept man and wants out from under, both literally and figuratively, his older wife. When he arrives at the agreed on time, he finds the woman dead and himself framed. He had setup an alibi at a theater and runs back there. Only when he does it is the morning of the previous day. He now can replay the day out and make things right. Only being a scumbag, he doesn’t try to save the murdered woman but instead tries to manipulate it so he can get all the stolen goods for himself. Though that goes wrong, and he goes to prison. This story ends with him looking at his friends across the campfire and dropping some dialogue like “sorry you found out I’m a murderer.”

Some of the campers then go out into the woods to pee, including Eva. They find Richard’s body in the woods and are properly freaked out. When they return to the campfire and he is still there they are like, “dude you are such a dick”. But even after being told he never left and clearly realizing some shit is up they still sit down to hear the next story. I guess no one thought to write a script.

I don't remember '80s video games like this!
The last segment is Julies’ story. Her sister Alex is a chess expert who announces her crusade against a gaming company that releases games that mistreat women and reinforce little boy fantasies. You know like shitty eighties horror movies did. This movie is so meta. Really you have no idea just wait and see. After her press conference she is kidnapped by the crazy owner of the company and forced to play a game for her life. Solve the puzzles and live, fail to and die. Spoilers, she solves the puzzles and turns the table on the bad guy.

This might be the most interesting story, but it is hampered by a lack of resources. They clearly didn’t have the budget necessary to tell what was on the page and because of that things look a bit flimsy. The traps aren’t as clever as they should be and using terrible Atari 2600 video game graphics to track the progress of Alex and the dangers pursuing her looked terrible in the late eighties and haven’t aged well since. Still there is a bit of something here that did have me perked up in my chair. Props for that.

After this final story, the demon Richard jumps up and is pissed that they weren’t good enough to make into a movie, unintentionally meta. Using finger guns… I shit you not… he murders all of Eva’s friends. Then she wakes up. Apparently she fell asleep next to the campfire and dreamt the whole thing. Then we see her being interviewed after her script has been turned into a movie. The movie we just watched. Which the demon was mad that wasn’t good enough to be a movie.

In the end no one dies, nothing matters, and this was a waste of time. Though I’ll admit I had a bit of nostalgia as this is the sort of nonsense I used to rent. Sadly despite that I can’t recommend Terror Eyes.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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