DEADLY EYES Blu-ray Review
There aren’t many recommendations I would give out of the movies I’ve seen in the killer rat subgenre, there’s the effective 2003 remake of Willard, Of Unknown Origin and now thanks to Scream Factory, there’s one more title I can recommend, if not for sheer campy entertainment value.
Deadly Eyes, titled Night Eyes in the opening credits (most likely due to European release master copies), was directed by Robert Clouse (Enter The Dragon), which makes sense due to the production involvement of Golden Harvest, and is very loosely based on a novel by James Herbert called The Rats. Those involved with the production obviously felt that the source material that contains a contamination outbreak in a local grain source that breeds mutant killer rats wouldn’t give them enough mileage to ground their screenplay, so basically that element is treated more as a subplot to a love triangle until we get the last twenty minutes of carnage that is really the selling point of this cheesefest (pun intended) from 1982.
Aside from one of the ballsiest opening kills I’ve witnessed (this one involves an adorable infant), this movie opens at a glacierly pace but despite some of the banality that the script demands, there’s a charm about how this movie really absorbs the moment of time it was made and surprisingly the female leads are well developed, considering the genre and era it was made. Paul Harris (Sam Groom) is a divorced high school teacher and basketball coach who gets wrapped up in a killer rat infestation and a love triangle with a health department inspector Elly (Sara Botsford); and a young high school cheerleader named Trudy (Lisa Langlois).
Giant rats the size of small dogs (they actually used Dachshunds wearing rat suits)are feeding off mountains grain full of steroids and are forced to find new accomidations when a health department inspector orders their contaminated food supply to be burned. This is where the one recognizable star Scatman Crothers, hot off of The Shining gets introduced and pretty much disappears until his inevitable death.
As the central story unravels with the burdened basketball coach dealing with Elly and the vulnerable lead cheerleader fighting for his undivided attention, the rats are slowly weaving in and out of the narrative to tie everything together before getting the payoff in the finale, which includes a great scene of rat carnage in a movie theater playing Game Of Death as an obvious nod to the director. Deadly Eyes isn’t a lost gem but it’s a very entertaining killer rat movie and I think all of the loyal fans that keep up with Scream Factory’s output, know where to put their expectations with the lesser known titles and I guarantee this movie plays well with a group of friends and a case of beer certainly wouldn’t hurt. Sure if this movie didn’t piss off the author we might have got a better sequel with a two headed monster rat, but that doesn’t make viewing this ridiculously fun cult movie any less entertaining.
The 1080p transfer in 1.78:1 makes the presentation hold up to the standard that we’ve come to expect from Scream Factory and there’s no slouching with the special features either. New interviews with actors Lisa Langlois, Lesleh Donaldson and Joseph Kelly, writer Charles Eglee, art director Ninkey Dalton, special effects artists Alan Apone and Alec Gillis are a welcome bonus that offers plenty of fun insight and the overall package makes this a worthy addition to your growing Scream Factory collection.