Eyes of a Stranger is a 1981 slasher film directed by Ken Wiederhorn (Shock Waves; Return of the Living Dead Part II). It features makeup effects by Tom Savini and stars Jennifer Jason Leigh in one of her earliest roles.
The film focuses around a murderer who stalks his victims and then calls them repeatedly before raping and killing them. Feminist TV reporter Jane Harris (Lauren Tewes) becomes suspicious and investigates one of her neighbors, whom she believes is committing the crimes.
The film was originally cut for an R-rating, removing many instances of violence including a decapitation, leaving only the final head shot uncut. As a result many of Tom Savini’s gore effects were removed or censored. The uncut version has since been released in Warner’s Twisted Terror Collection on DVD with an R on the packaging.
“Besides Rear Window, the film has elements of When A Stranger Calls, Black Christmas, Wait Until Dark, He Knows You’re Alone, and even bits of I Saw What You Did. There are a lot of clever ideas here, but most of them were done better in earlier movies… If not for the nudity and gore, this could have easily been a made for TV movie. True slasher fans will most likely find Eyes of a Stranger disappointingly tame. On the other hand, fans of older suspense/thrillers will find the gore overdone and the nudity gratuitous. It seems this movie was made to disappoint everyone.” Exclamation Mark
“I actually enjoy the kills in this film more than I should. There’s uses for a meat cleaver, a switchblade, and bare hands. In the uncut version, there are at least four notable deaths, bloody as can be. A singlehanded decapitation is fun, and flows all over Debbie’s apartment, where she will later find her boyfriend’s head in the fish tank. It seems Night School has a cousin.” Oh-the-Horror!
“There are three things that ruin Eyes of a Stranger. Firstly, the script gives too much time to the psychopath and he doesn’t get characterised as well as say, in a movie like Maniac. There are no real shots of him behaving like a loon and instead we just see him sitting down to have his dinner and with all due respect to John DiSanti, he just doesn’t ooze scariness. He’s certainly no bad actor, but he has a kind of everyday bloke-ness about him and for me, he just doesn’t cut it as a bogeyman … But in its ambition not to feel like a rip-off (which it is), it deliberately breaks the most important rule: Don’t give your monster too much screen time.” A Slash Above
Buy Eyes of a Stranger uncut + Dr. Giggles + Deadly Friend + The Hand + Someone’s Watching Me + From Beyond the Grave on Twisted Terror Collection DVD from Amazon.com