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Movies From the Black Lagoon: Eye of the Stranger

Movies From the Black Lagoon
Eye of the Stranger - 1993, Rated R
By Tom Doty
Weekly Contributing Writer

A mysterious stranger arrives in a cowed town (one where the residents are cowards and not bovines) and begins a violent campaign against corrupting influences in this Troma film.
The movie starts with an establishing shot that introduces the desert town of "Harmony." It is a marvelous thing too because it lingers on oil drills while showing that the town has little else going for it. This is all communicated in about 12 seconds and everything is fine until the actors show up.
Turns out "Harmony" is anything but that. The scattered citizenry live in fear of Mayor Bains. He is a nasty overlord who means to buy up all the businesses in town so that he can commence to drill the heck out of the area for oil. He is so sure of himself that his re-election campaign appears to have cost him three bucks, and consists of standard sized fliers pumped out of an aging copier.
A band of guilty looking types spend their time getting drunk at the local watering while where they commiserate about the Mayor and some dark deed they did seven years earlier. This group consists of the impotent Sheriff, a vertically challenged bar owner, and the town Doctor.
Meanwhile Bain's enforcers, two lunk heads who add up to one guy that is nowhere near smarter than a fifth grader, lean on the remaining business owners to cough up their deeds. Into this setting comes a trucker who abandons his rig outside of town and proceeds to poke this hornet's nest.
It all leads to a night of recrimination in which a lot of people die, in poorly executed action scenes, until Harmony is thug free. This mess is all brought to you from triple threat extraordinaire David Heavener. Mr. H. even cats himself in the lead (no wondering who he had to sleep with to get the part). I have a few problems with this one.
One - The title makes no sense. The stranger has two eyes and neither one is very interesting.
Two - Sally Kirkland shows up but her acting chops aren't tested as Heavener is only interested in showing that the Oscar nominated actress still has a great figure.
Three - Heavener is happy to bill himself in four departments but never acknowledge that this was a great movie when we saw it as 'High Plains drifter." He steals entire scenes from that Clint Eastwood classic but doesn't spare one lien over the credits thanking Ernest Tidyman for the screenplay this rips off. Very uncool. Lucky for heaven that Harlan Ellison wasn't the writer he ripped off or he would have been sued by that creative curmudgeon who is infamous for taking hacks to task for stealing ideas from his works.
Four-Heavener is probably a nice guy but someone needs to tell him that it takes more to carry a movie than growing a beard. Granted the guy rocks some righteous whiskers but they appear to have skipped the same screen acting course he slept through.
All said this is a time waster that delivers on the sexploitation elements (thanks to Ms Kirkland) but fails to give you even a dollar's worth of decent action. The flick should come with an itemized bill for the phoned in performances of such usually reliable thespians as Stella Stephens, Sydney Lassick, and Martin Landau (two years away from winning an Oscar for his turn as Bela Lugosi in 'Ed Wood'].
The good news is that Heavener now produces Christian Rock and has gotten this stuff out of his system.
Best Line: "I don't even your name, I made love to you but I don't know who you are. I feel like I know you. Who are you?"

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to:

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