Saturday, April 22, 2017

In short: Deadly Eyes (1982)

This City, Canada. After authorities, as represented by department of health agent Kelly Leonard (Sara Botsford) and Scatman Crothers, burn a steroid-infested ship-load of corn, the rats that have been living on said corn move into the city. This will turn out to be a dachshund-sized problem, for their special diet has turned them into rats as big as dachshunds and rather aggressive ones to boot. So soon, they begin eating children and the elderly.

Kelly rather quickly cops to what’s going on but the mayor (perhaps the place is called Amity?) and her boss just won’t believe her. But hey, at least she’ll acquire a new boyfriend, hunky teacher Paul Harris (Sam Groom) during the proceedings. Unless a) they are eaten by dachshundsrats or b) Paul just can’t resist the advances of his student Trudy (Lisa Langlois). Trudy thinks Paul’s so sophisticated because he has travelled and stuff and is apparently convinced that Paul being divorced means he understands women. Well, Trudy’s a cheerleader, not a budding intellectual, so what do you expect?

I’m not sure why you’d acquire the rights to James Herbert’s (at least in Europe) best-selling novel The Rats to then move its action from a grubby pulpy London to a nameless (unless it’s really called This City, which is the name its mayor likes to use) Canadian city? But then, I, unlike the makers of this very special movie, am also less than convinced that portraying one’s mildly giant rats by putting dachshunds in costumes (well, and by using pretty crappy puppets for close-ups) is a swell idea, so what do I know.

The dachshund thing is of course what Robert Clouse’s Deadly Eyes is most famous for, and it’s really fair too. There certainly is more than just a little charm to watching a horde of what is most obviously small dogs setting out to murder people. Oh, let’s be honest, it’s absolutely frigging hilarious, as are the script’s attempts at writing teenagers. Hearing Trudy speak and breaking into a fit of laughter are pretty much the same thing, while her attempts at seducing her teacher merrily skip over making one uncomfortable into even more hilarity. I’m also very fond of Sam Groom apparently being to This City, Canada what Tom Atkins is to the world of John Carpenter – the (inexplicably) sexiest man alive.

At the same time, there’s the heart of a really ruthless little horror film (and an actual adaptation of the Herbert novel) hidden away under the never-ending barrage of funny dialogue, the sort of film that has no trouble murdering children and the elderly. Of course, the comedic quality of the rat attacks and the even more comedic dialogue demolish any hopes of taking the film seriously.

However, the film’s just too funny complain about that.

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