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EYES OF FIRE (director/writer: Avery Crounse; cinematographer: Wade Hanks; editor: Michael Barnard; music: Brad Fiedel; cast: Dennis Lipscomb (Will Smythe), Guy Boyd (Marion Dalton), Rebecca Stanley (Eloise Dalton), Sally Klein (Fay Dalton, Narrator), Karlene Crockett (Leah), Fran Ryan (Sister), Will Hare (Calvin), Rose Preston (Orphan Indian girl), Russell James Young Jr (Evil Spirit); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Philip Spinelli; Vestron (Elysian Pictures); 1983)
“Arty horror pic.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A stylish supernatural period morality piece, that’s set in the 18th century. It is written and directed by still photographer Avery Crounse(“The Invisible Kid”/”Cries of Silence”/”Sister Island”). It bombed at the box office, but positive word spread about it and in 1987 it had modest success among certain cult film lovers as a VHS release on Vestron.

A narrator (Sally Klein) relates the horror tale in a series of flashbacks. It’s 1750 in the French territories of North America. The foppish preacher Will Smythe (Dennis Lipscomb) is accused of adultery with a married woman, Eloise Dalton (Rebecca Stanley), whose husband (Guy Boyd) is out hunting for food. The preacher’s set to be hanged. In the nick of time a mysterious young witch, Leah (Karlene Crockett), magically burns through the rope to save him. The preacher and a few of his loyal followers flee the community and decide to go it alone in the woods, protected only by Leah’s witchcraft. There they must learn to survive in a haunted valley of demons, surrounding hostile Shawnee Indians, souls immersed in tree trunks, possessed characters and evil spirits.

The arty horror pic, not for all tastes, was shot in Missouri on a $1 million budget. Though it’s a flawed film, its strange storyline captivated me despite such obvious flaws as the performances were mostly inadequate, the story had choppy moments and the special effects were cheesy.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”