Cover of another of the films' US releases
"A lesson in Terror..."

TERROR EYES review: page 2

       As I said before, TERROR EYES is a strange little film- partly because it's such an uncomfortable mish-mash of genres. It's ostensibly of the DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE (1980) and MANIAC (1981) school of psycho-film making- grim and many might say (indeed many did say at the time) it's a film which wears its misogyny on its sleeve. What is strange is the fact that a film like MANIAC, which was unremittingly grim, played it dead straight. Whereas TERROR EYES sometimes goes for laughs- occasionally lapsing into near slapstick (the 'comedy' peeping tom with learning difficulties springs to mind). The horror and stalking scenes aren't played for laughs at all and are especially violent; but paradoxically not very explicit. By that I mean you That ol' head in the toilet gag- from a scene which may possibly have influenced Argento!don't get to see any of the decapitations- ALA the Grand Guignol which provides the showstopper for a film like FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980); but rather there is sustained slashing without much gore. It's really quite difficult to explain- but in some ways the lack of gore makes it seem nastier. It must have been this mean-streak which helped get the film banned (that and its disproportionately bloody cover); although, having said that, there seemed to be no rhyme nor reason during the nasties hysteria which gripped the UK in the early 80's. Anyway, it is the mixture of comedy and mean spiritedness (exemplified by the shot of a woman's body in a dumpster), that really grates. I'm on morally shaky ground here I know- after-all this site is dedicated to the slasher movie (possibly the most reviled of all horror's sub-genres), but TERROR EYES seems to have something to offend just about anybody. But ,again paradoxically, here's the rub- the film was written by a woman, Ruth Avergon. Go figure!

       Something which is fairly interesting about the movie is the way that it seems to borrow elements from the Italian gialli. The (in this case less than riveting) police investigation and the black leather gloves of the killer are just two things which hint that those slasher/thrillers which were so in vogue in the early 70's may well of been an influence. However, the relationship between the Italian gialli and the American slasher movie has always been a cyclical one- borrowing themes and ideas from each other. So, in turn, if Ken This second scene seems to mirror a similar one in Dario Argento's later TENEBRE (1982) Hughes was recycling chunks of Argento, then it seems perfectly natural that Argento would return the favour! I may be way off the mark here but TERROR EYES contains two scenes which were almost replicated (albeit with much more skill) by Dario Argento in his masterly giallo TENEBRE in 1982. It isn't as far fetched as it may seem. It has been noted before that Argento couldn't have failed to notice the rise and rise of the North American slasher movie in the early 80's (TERROR EYES did the rounds at cinemas in Europe)- indeed TENEBRE, as good as it is, is a creative step backwards for him after the sublime, supernatural powerhouse of INFERNO (1980) (which incidentally was a box-office disaster), it made perfect financial sense for him to re-invent the gialli for the slasher age (although, in truth, by the time TENEBRE came out the sub-genre was quickly on the wane). The two scenes in question are, firstly, the murder of the two lesbian lovers (which whilst the murders in Argento's film are much more flamboyant the basic set-up is pretty much the same; although Argento had the good taste not to go with the head in the toilet gag (which incidentally turned up both in THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW (1982) and CURTAINS (1983)). Secondly is a murder scene where a woman, fleeing the machete wielding killer, splatters blood across a bright white wall. This mirrors, in some ways, the scene in TENEBRE where a woman sprays a wall with a torrent of blood from her freshly severed arm. Naturally Argento's take is the more striking of the two. One other thing that these two films have in common is something which neither director could have envisaged- that they would both ultimately wind up being banned in the UK, as video-nasties!

       TERROR EYES hasn't a great deal going for it- its mile-wide mean streak will put most viewers off; but it does have a few redeeming qualities. Risible dialogue in a movie isn't usually something to boast about- actually, come to think of it, it is here (!)- and TERROR EYES has some of the funniest non-intentional howlers ever set to celluloid- even more surprising for a film of this (mid) A hilarious sledgehammer clue in TERROR EYES!budget. The general hilarity of these few choice scenes are bolstered hugely by the very beautiful but awesomely inept Rachel Ward, who comes across like a plank with a plum in its mouth. The scene that springs to mind immediately is the one where Judd lets himself into Professor Millet's house and whilst poking around in his study comes across a photo showing Millet and Rachel Ward's character on safari (complete with pith helmets), each holding a human skull aloft (that clue couldn't have been anymore blatant if the photograph had been attached to a sledge-hammer!). Enter Ms. Ward who mumbles, (and sorry, I just couldn't resist repeating this bit of choice dialogue!)- "Isn't breaking and entering a crime, even for a policeman?". To which Judd replies with (a contender for the best bad movie dialogue comeback ever), "Isn't head hunting a crime... even for an anthropologist?". He continues, "I suddenly find myself up to my...neck, in heads. Heads in fish buckets... then I come here and I find more heads!". Incensed (or as near 'incensed' as she can make muster- which isn't very) Ward attempts to defend the noble Head Hunters of New Guinea, "How can you make a comparison with this kind of butchery and the tradition of Eastern Culture?". And it goes on... and on. Ruth Avergon only ever wrote one screenplay- I checked the IMDB just to be sure.

       Overall TERROR EYES is a pretty crappy movie- made crappier still by the very worst twist ending known to mankind; and as I'm sure you can imagine that's really some mean feat! Still, at least for once a movie's tagline, in this case "Terror Eyes will haunt you long after tonight...", proved true- even if it was for all the wrong reasons!

BODYCOUNT 7  bodycount!   female:6 / male:1

       1: Female decapitated with curved machete (not shown)
       2: Female decapitated with curved machete (off-screen)
       3: Female slashed repeatedly with machete, then decapitated (off-screen)
       4: Female slashed repeatedly with machete, then decapitated (offscreen)
       5: Female decapitated with curved machete (off-screen)
       6: Female decapitated with curved machete (?) (off-screen)
       7: Male breaks his neck