Wednesday, May 24, 2017

An Eye for an Eye (1973)



Whenever I discover one of the myriad low-budget shockers hidden in the darkest corners of ’70s cinema, I find myself asking which population the filmmakers envisioned as their target audience. Superficially, An Eye for an Eye, also known as The Psychopath, is a straight-up killer thriller, featuring a deranged character preying on folks who trigger his special pathology. Yet the picture has a touch of campiness. In one scene, the murderer surveys the contents of a suburban garage for possible killing implements, then chooses a lawnmower; pity the victim, who wakes up just in time to see the blades approaching her face. However, An Eye for an Eye is also a social-issue picture, seeing as how the killer targets parents who abuse their children. And then there’s the whole business of the killer’s day job—he’s the upbeat host of a kids’ TV show, operating puppets and speaking in silly voices. So is An Eye for an Eye camp, is it legit horror, is it melodrama, or is it satire? That the picture tries to be all of these things at once reveals the problem. Cowriter-director Larry G. Brown cant seem to pick a lane, and he isn’t good at navigating any of the pathways he explores. The suspense scenes are routine, so they only generate minor visceral responses (thanks to overwrought music on the soundtrack), and the serious scenes are ridiculous. Vignettes of Tommy a/k/a “Mr. Rabby” (Tom Basham) speaking with his mother feel like Psycho Lite, and Brown’s habit of cutting to extreme close-ups of Tommy’s eyes while he stalks his prey is more goofy than gruesome. By far the movie’s dorkiest scene is the one during which Tommy repeatedly snaps a towel in the direction of a woman’s face—but never actually strikes her—until she inexplicably faints. Assault with a deadly washcloth? Seriously?

An Eye for an Eye: LAME

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