on 13 December 2012
DEADLY FRIEND - A young science whizz called Paul moves to a new town with his mother and his best friend, BB, who is a self thinking robot he designed. He soon meets Tom and Samantha and they become friends, everything's great until he realises Samantha has an abusive, alcoholic father. On Halloween, they decide to prank an old woman called Elvira, they get BB to open the lock on her gate and go inside to ring the bell. An alarm goes off and Elvira opens the door with a shotgun in hand and shoots BB, leaving Paul distraught. A while later Samantha returns home to find her father drunk again, they get into an argument and Samantha ends up at the foot of the stairs and in a coma. It becomes clear that she's not going to recover, so her dad decides to pull the plug. Paul convinces Tom to help him get her out of the hospital so he can try and save her, he puts BB's A.I chip into Samantha's brain. When Samantha wakes up, she has superhuman strength and wants revenge.
Matthew Labyorteaux gave a good performance as Paul, he's extremely likeable and you genuinely root for him. Kristy Swanson was only 17 at the time, she's excellent as the abused daughter who later becomes a robotic killer. Anne Ramsey is fun as Elvira, Richard Marcus also shines as Samantha's father. Deadly Friend is one of Wes Craven's least known films, which is a shame as it's very good. It's nothing like his first films, this one's much closer to Shocker and The People Under The Stairs. There's some decent blood on show, including one of my all time favourite death scenes, it involves a basketball and has to be seen to be believed. The film would have had an excellent ending if it finished a minute earlier, instead it has an awful scene that makes no sense and just cheapens everything that came before it. No extras.
EYES OF A STRANGER - A man is raping and killing women in Miami, he's known for making threatening phone calls to his victims before killing them. One night while sat in her car, Anchorwoman Jane Harris witnesses a man removing what appears to be a blood stained shirt. She's fully aware there's a murderer in the area and starts to suspect him, the more convinced she becomes that he's the killer, the more danger she and her deaf, blind and mute younger sister are in.
I liked Lauren Tewes as Jane, she gave an engaging and convincing performance as the suspicious Anchorwoman. Jennifer Jason Leigh is excellent as Jane's young sister, Tracy. She's extremely good considering her character can't see, hear or speak. John DiSanti rounds out the main cast, he's disturbing as the killer and the phone calls are especially creepy. It's directed by Ken Wiederhorn, he really builds up the tension and keeps it going all the way through. It's strange that Wiederhorn is best known for his horror films as I remember him saying on the Return Of The Living Dead part 2 commentary that he doesn't like horror films and they're not what he wanted to make. He also made Shock Waves. The music is brillaint and the special effects by Tom Savini are good as always, the gore is back in after it was originally cut out of the film to secure an R rating from the MPAA. No extras.
THE HAND - Jon Lansdale is a successful comic book artist, his marriage isn't as successful and his wife, Anne, seems bored. She wants to move to New York with their daughter Lizzy, so she and Jon can spend some time apart. They get into an argument during a car ride, she pulls out from behind a truck as another vehicle is coming at them in the other lane. Jon frantically waves at the driver behind to pull back and let them in. As he's waving, the truck slams on the breaks and his hand is severed between vehicles. A few months pass and Jon is still trying to adjust to the loss of his hand, his marriage has been better though and he's just got an offer to write his comic and have another cartoonist draw it. Eventually the deal falls through due to Jon's dislike of the cartoonist, and his marriage starts to fall apart again as Anne gets over her guilt for what happened. Jon decides to move to California after he's offered a teaching job, his wife and daughter stay behind, but he's joined in California by an unwelcome guest, his rotting, severed hand.
Michael Caine is great as Jon, this is definitely a case of a performance being much better than the actual film. The Hand has one of my favourite Caine lines, it's when he yells at the person in the other car to "get back you silly cow". There's something about the way it's said that makes me laugh. The supporting cast is very good, most notably Bruce McGill and Viveca Lindfors. Oliver Stone has a cameo as a homeless man. This was Stone's second film as director but it was clear the talent was there, a film about a hand killing people should be ridiculous, but Stone makes sure it's a tense psychological thriller. The special effects are well done, the severed hand looks good for a film from 1981. There's a little nudity, and the gore is done well when it's needed, especially at the very end of the film which is brilliant. The Hand has a commentary from Stone where he seems to like the film which was refreshing, I expected him to bad mouth it and say that every director has to start somewhere.
SOMEONE'S WATCHING ME! - Leigh Michaels has just moved to start a new job as a TV director, she's moved into an apartment in a high rise. She starts her job and gets on well with a colleague called Sophie, and soon meets a man called Paul and they start a relationship. From the day she moved in, someone has been watching her from the adjacent building using a telescope, she's also been receiving phone calls and gifts. The calls start to become more personal and menacing, when he reveals he knows where she lives, she decides it's time to phone the police. They explain to her there's nothing they can do, so she takes matters into her own hands.
Lauren Hutton is decent as Leigh, there's several times I thought her acting was poor, but overall she does a good job. I think the film would have benefited if Adrienne Barbeau who played Sophie had switched roles with Hutton, I thought Barbeau was great in her small role and would have been a better lead. I thought David Birney was quite cheesy as Paul, but he's okay. Charles Cyphers has a small role as a detective. Someone's Watching Me! was written and directed by John Carpenter, it was his third film after Dark Star and Assault On Precinct 13. This film has a really tense Hitchcock vibe, hardly surprising as it deals with a similar theme to Rear Window. The film also showed Carpenter's style and flair behind the camera that he really perfected in the following years, there's some outstanding shots in the film, and it's down to Carpenter that the film never looks like a low budget TV movie. It's a very bloodless affair as it was made for TV. There's a six minute interview on the disc with John Carpenter, he talks about the making of the film and how he came to work on it.
This set would be best described as being a set of lesser known films by some very well known directors, everyone knows who Craven, Carpenter and Stone is, but a lot of their fans probably haven't seen these films. It's surprising that it's the director who most people wouldn't know, Ken Wiederhorn, who made the film that I probably liked the most out of the four. All four films are presented in widescreen and look fantastic. All four films have English, French and Spanish audio and subtitles, except for The Hand that has just English and Spanish audio. The films arrived in a normal sized DVD case with the four discs sitting on top of each other, unless you're constantly taking the discs out they shouldn't get damaged. All four discs are exactly the same as the ones bought individually, normally it costs £40-50 to buy them seperately, so this set is a bargain. It's a region 1 set from America but I can confirm that all four films play on a UK region 2 player. I'd recommend this set to anyone that enjoys horror/suspense, it's also a great way to get hold of some of these directors earlier films.