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Bedroom Eyes II
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by Jack Sommersby

"A Waste of Wings Hauser"
2 stars

If you've seen the original, then you've pretty much seen the sequel, though not a great deal of people have seen either one.

The always-interesting Wings Hauser impressed me to no end with his sensational supporting performance as the vicious Hollywood pimp in 1982’s Vice Squad, and since has never disappointed. Rather than allowing himself to be typecast as a cinematic villain, he switched gears and starred as the Dirty Harry-like ex-cop in the enjoyable Los Angeles crime thriller Deadly Force and the racecar driver in the superb Deep South horror picture Mutant; combining an uncommonly acute alert reserve and fevered intensity, he’s made quite the electrifying impression on the silver screen. (He’s the James Woods of B-movies.) And when he’s partaken in supporting roles in bigger-budgeted projects like Richard Pryor’s Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling and Norman Mailer’s Tough Guys Can’t Dance, he was the standout among the cast members. Hauser is anything but a “complex” thespian, but within certain parameters he works miracles -- armed to the teeth with a fearless immediacy, he can’t help but keep you riveted. Having granted him all this, he’s been miscast in this unnecessary sequel to the mediocre Canadian psychological thriller Bedroom Eyes; gosh knows his screen presence gives the proceedings some much-needed verity, but he’s simply not convincing as an easily-manipulated sap susceptible to the conniving schemes of a femme fatale. In the original, the little-known Kip Gilman starred as Harry Ross, a sexually-frustrated stockbroker who was quite the voyeur in his off-hours; inadvertently witnessing the killing of a woman through her bedroom window, Harry was propelled into a murder scheme where he found himself both the chief suspect and a patsy. Gilman wasn’t much of an actor, but he provided his nebbish character some amusing tics that gave Harry some ingratiating charm; Ross was an attractive man (blandly handsome in that Long Beach-lifeguard kinda way) yet too insecure to accept he could be unconditionally loved -- he rejected the advances of a fellow co-worker who could’ve been his soul mate and mistakenly involved himself in a destructive relationship with someone who turned out to be a psychopath. In Bedroom Eyes II, Harry has lucked into a nurturing marriage, but how that came about was anything but typical -- his wife was his mistress when he was temporarily married to another woman, who was accidentally killed by that same mistress when Harry confessed to his infidelity and she ran outside and into the street and was fatally struck by the mistress spying on Harry in her car. (Yes, “suspension of disbelief” is already at a breaking point.) Harry’s current wife, Carolyn (Kathy Shower, a Playboy Playmate of the Month in 1985 and 1986), is the owner of an art gallery, and Harry has ventured out on his own and become a financial consultant with his best friend and colleague Vinnie (Joe Giardina); after scoring a lucrative two-million dollars off an illegally-gotten stock tip, Harry has gotten himself out of debt. But then the villainess from the original, JoBeth (Veronica Hart), resurfaces after a five-year stint in a mental institution, and Harry starts a torrid affair with struggling artist Sophie (Linda Blair), and all Hell steadily breaks loose.

Through a series of hackneyed situations where common sense is abandoned and logic loopholes abound, Harry again finds himself falling under police suspicion when the corpse of someone associated with him turns up, and you can’t keep saying to yourself, “Hasn’t this guy seen at least five movies of this type where he’s making the same kind of mistakes as those other hapless heroes?” Some of Alfred Hitchcock’s stuff was implausible but redeemed by generous helpings of color and wit, whereas Bedroom Eyes II is flabby and soporific. We should be caught up in the hero’s turmoil where we’re willing to stick with him because we’re as oblivious to the impending dangers he’s wading into as he is, but the movie is so slackly paced and carelessly telegraphed we find too much downtime to easily spot the trapdoors he’s forever falling into. Harry doesn’t bother to contemplate that just maybe it’s not exactly fortuitous in his coincidentally acquiring a new lover the same time a past lover has made herself conspicuously known; we keep waiting for a light bulb to finally switch on in his head, and even in the movie’s final stretches we simply can’t believe a man as supposedly smart as Harry is this slow on the uptake. Which brings us back to Hauser, who projects such intelligence that casting him as a dullard is as miscalculated as casting, say, Jan Michael-Vincent as a rocket scientist. Hauser has a good deal of sex appeal, and when he and Blair indulge in a love scene it’s reasonably erotic (though why Shower, given her past, isn’t given a single nude scene is anybody’s guess; it’s not that her amateurish acting is due compensation), but Harry needs to be nondescript for the character to work, and Hauser conveys anything but -- he’s remarkably vivid and assured; and asking him to be otherwise is akin to wanting a natural athlete to limp toward the finish line. Hauser gives Harry the necessary gravity, alright, and there isn’t a moment when he overdoes his hand, but I kept harking back to the more-suitable Gilman, who the audience could more readily identify with when Harry was in terror-stricken mode. Like the original, Bedroom Eyes II is burdened with a problematic screenplay whose twists and turns are anything but cagey (with a pivotal character doing a complete one-eighty in the final section just so Harry can escape certain death at the last moment), and because the execution of the material lacks swank precision, we’re made all the more aware of the numerous inanities. Chuck Vincent, who’s directed a whopping forty-eight disposable movies in seventeen years (are he and Fred Olen Ray kindred spirits?), obviously isn’t choosy what with stuff like Hollywood Hot Tubs and Divorce Court Expose on his far-from-illustrious resume, and if there’s anything resembling technical skill on display here it’s resistant to the naked eye. The movie isn’t terrible, but it is appalling-looking and uninvolving and bereft of a single well-written line of dialogue. So even though Hauser isn’t an ideal choice for this white-collar role, he still emanates more class than this derivative-to-the-nth-degree botch even remotely deserves.

(See my review of the original.)

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=28567&reviewer=327
originally posted: 02/27/15 04:39:39
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USA
  31-Jan-1990 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
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Directed by
  Chuck Vincent

Written by
  Jerry Ciccoritti

Cast
  Wings Hauser
  Kathy Shower
  Linda Blair
  Jane Hamilton
  Joe Giardina



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