If you ever wondered how a science teacher, a government health inspector, an overly flirtatious high school girl, and a colony of oversized rats could come together to form a successful monster movie, the short answer is – it cant! Which is why when all that is crammed together in one film what is produced is a laugh out loud comedy/horror that thankfully doesn’t take itself too seriously. The only thing more fascinating about DEADLY EYES is how culturally out of date it is. From hungry man meals to hot showers, this film is the male gaze distilled into a sappy, earth toned 1980’s concentrate. Lets unpack
Ok the basics, DEADLY EYES is directed by Robert Clouse and thankfully this is not the film he is best known for. Set in a snowy winter in Toronto we are introduced to a series of unrelated characters. Kelly Leonard (played by Sara Botsford) a health inspector who sets our story in motion by destroying the hormone contaminated corn that created our movie monster- and causes that rat colony to disperse through the city. Yes, our movie monster is a herd of rats, but more on that later. We meet the mild mannered, solid as a rock, 1980’s every man/ high school science teacher – Paul Harris (played by Sam Groom). When he is not so forcibly rejecting sexual advances by underage students, he plays basketball and goes down to the local Natural History Museum to hang out with his mentor- a rat expert! Dr. Louis Spenser (played by Cec Linder) is that cliche 80’s horror trope character- that scientific expert that just so happens to drift into our story ready to provide all the information our main characters (and the audience needs) to forward the plot. Although his contribution is kinda needless as Kelly seems to know everything he does, but its the 80’s, so they probably want a man to reconfirm everything. There is also a parallel storyline about the teenagers in Mr Harris’s class that never quite serves any point besides emphasizing how much of a stand up guy he is for not sleeping with his students. That and increasing our total rat kill count.
A nice pleasant surprise is the appearance of Scotsman Crothers, playing rat exterminator George Hoskins. Maybe its the familiar face, or maybe its because unlike the rest of the characters in this film drifting around in disconnected plot lines, George Hoskins hops right into the sewers and gets straight to the point rather quickly- we need need to kill these damn rats!
Ok, so the rats. In the world of horror movie monsters, good and bad – a pack of rats is undoubtedly probably one of the worst monsters to ever grace the screen. They are not exactly supernatural, just big. Frankly I have seen rats in the New York City subway system that could be their runty cousins. Further, their intent is actually pretty much the same as normal rats. Without a grand plan, or a massive population, they don’t really incite much terror for viewers. If you stay away from places rats frequent you are pretty much going make it through this movie alive, limbs intact.
Yes this film is silly in that 80’s horror movie kind of way, and ultimately viewers will have fun here. Its unique, wacky, and predictable in that comforting way you want for some nice rainy week night horror viewing. Like a strong glass bourbon next to a fire on a cold Toronto night, this film delivers just enough to give you an enjoyable evening.