“Deadly Eyes” is another little-known creature feature from the 80s that, like many films of a similar nature, has a very simple premise involving a mutated animal wreaking havoc on a city. In this case, we have rats that have grown large by feeding on tainted corn. When their food stash is destroyed for health reasons, they are forced to go out in search of something else to feed on, which just happens to include the citizens of Toronto. Wrapped up in this bizarre situation are a group of useless teens, as well as a teacher (Sam Groom) and a health official (Sara Botsford), who slowly realize what is happening after a few vicious attacks by the creatures. However, when the mayor decides to hold a special party for the opening of a new subway line, it may be too late to prevent a feeding frenzy.
This is a film that you’re not supposed to take particularly seriously. How can you when you have little Dachshunds dressed up like giant rats scurrying around, as well as silly-looking puppets used for close-ups? At the very least, it’s a film that’s good for a few laughs, but unfortunately that doesn’t help with its other problems. The main issue that “Deadly Eyes” is faced with is that this is a story we’ve seen several times before already: creatures attack, someone finds out about it, no one believes them, eventually it’s confirmed, and the creatures must be stopped. The only difference tends to be the creature. The writer, Charles Egee, also isn’t doing the film any favors by throwing in completely pointless characters (the “useless teenagers” I mentioned above) and sideplots, in addition to main characters that we hardly care about at all. Because of all this, the film doesn’t really stand out in any significant way (except maybe for the incredibly cheesy special effects) and ends up being rather dull for the most part. There’s a reason most people have never heard of this film, one that becomes all too clear well before it’s over.
“Deadly Eyes” comes to Blu-ray in a 1.78:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of fantastic quality, as is to be expected from Shout! Factory. They have once again taken an obscure, low-budget film and restored it to how it must have looked when it was first released over 30 years ago. The DTS-HD Master Audio is a little on the soft side, which is a little unusual for Shout!, but it’s nothing that a slight volume adjustment can’t fix. Overall, the film looks and sounds great, leaving very little room for improvement.
Deadly Eyes: Dogs in Rats’ Clothing and Interviews with Actors Lisa Langlois, Lesleh Donaldson, Joseph Kelly, Writer Charles Egee, Art Director Ninkey Dalton, and Special Effects Artists Allan Apone and Alec Gillis: All totaled, this is around an hour of fascinating interviews where the participants share their memories of working on the film. Definitely worth the time to watch.
With its overly-familiar story and a group of characters that you merely hope will soon become rat food, “Deadly Eyes” makes for a somewhat tedious viewing experience, despite the few laughs that it’s able to generate through its silly special effects. In fact, given the lack of effort in all other areas of the film, it would probably be fair to say that this was made strictly for the purpose of showcasing the effects. Sometimes such a setup can work, but sadly this is not one of those times.
Available on Blu-ray starting tomorrow.
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