50 Movies for 50 States Part Two: The `80s – #24 – Missouri, Film – Eyes of Fire

#24 – Missouri, Eyes of Fire

Eyes of Fire (1983), directed by Avery Crounse, written by Avery Crounse, with Dennis Lipscomb, Guy Boyd, Rebecca Stanley, Sally Klein, Karlene Crockett, filmed in Missouri

Confession: I didn’t make it all the way through Eyes of Fire. As a dedicated amateur movie critic, I make every effort to watch every film I review from start to finish. But Eyes of Fire was just too boring — too meandering — too where-the-fuck-is-this-movie-going-and-when-is-it-going-to-get-there — too fucking-hell-is-there-really-an-hour-left? Isn’t-there-something-better-I-could-be-doing-with-my-time? I tried multiple times to get through it, but it bested me. So I’ll tell you what I know.

The film does have an interesting premise. American settlers journeying across the country, led by a handsome young preacher. travel to a fabled promised land after said preacher is accused by townsfolk of adultery (guilty) and polygamy (innocent). The group includes a wild, semi-mute woman seemingly endowed with the power of witchcraft, which is a good thing since all the while the troupe is beset on all sides by evil spirits, ghosts, poltergeists, specters and the like. Despite their theological differences, the preacher and the warlock co-exist in our merry band of wanderers. Actually, the preacher is a bit of a smarmy wife-stealing rogue — just the type of no-goodnik that would be friends with a nasty-wasty witch.

Indians attack. People are killed. Nobody gets dysentery, at least as far as I can tell. Eventually, the expelled pilgrims settle in a valley which just happens to be the site of a former Indian settlement. Cue Native American ghosts.

There are some freaky scenes, like this:

And this:


If there’s anything to be commended in Eyes of Fire, it’s the visual effects. Tassilo Baur is the man responsible for Eyes of Fire‘s special effects and he does a pretty good job. Worth noting is that Baur would go on to be part of the team responsible for the special effects in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Ultimately though, a movie is more than just a collection of special effects — and Eyes of Fire falls short in almost every other area.

The acting is atrocious, somewhere between community theater and a Hallmark movie of the week. This might be excusable, except for the fact that lead actors Dennis Lipscomb and Guy Boyd are professional actors. Both men have appeared in notable roles in dozens of movies. From the range they show in Eyes of Fire, I would have guessed they were friends and/or family of the director.

Apart from the lead actors hamming it up/hardly trying like they were a part of the worst production of The Crucible ever, Eyes of Fire features some of the worst Native Americans I’ve ever seen since the “indians” in Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Cannibal: The Musical.  The difference is that, in Cannibal: The Musical, the fact that the indians are all played by Asian actors and actresses is supposed to be a joke. What makes the red man red, indeed.

Nice tan, bro.

I can deal with bad acting, however. My biggest gripe is that Eyes of Fire is fucking boring. The story starts out promising enough but descends into what seems like a never-ending dream sequence. Like I said, special effects can only get you so far. If Eyes of Fire were a special effects demo reel for Tassilo Baur, it’d be a great one. But movies need story and memorable characters and believable acting and Eyes of Fire has none of that. It could have been a cross between The Scarlet Letter and The Blair Witch Project. Instead, it’s just a really fucked up Thanksgiving pageant.

Next week: MONTANA

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