Sunday, February 7, 2016


Rated PG
Running Time: 92 min.

Eyes Behind the Stars is an Italian sci-fi thriller from 1978 which plays like your typical episode of The X-Files; aliens are witnessed and conspirators go to great lengths to cover it up. We get plenty of investigative scenes and discussions with experts and other witnesses. At the end we get a disclaimer on-screen that states "Portions of the events depicted in this film actually happened, although at different times and in other places." That's another way of saying "We fell asleep writing this script and when we woke up, we decided to go for coffee and continue writing, but fell asleep there as well." I'll attempt to make my review more exciting than the movie.

Our story begins with a photographer named Peter (Franco Garofalo) and his model, Karin (Sherry Buchanan) in a wooded area for a photo shoot. Along the way, they get an eerie feeling when the forest suddenly goes very quiet. Their watches stop working and Karin's radio plays nothing but static, even though she swears that she changed the batteries out a few days ago. By the way, Peter has the worst haircut I've ever seen, even for a character in a 70's film:

"I asked for the Travolta and I got the Talia Shire."

When Peter gets back to his photo lab contained in his apartment, he notices something very weird in his photos. He goes back to the location at night to snap a few more photos of the area, when suddenly he is abducted by aliens and taken aboard their ship. In the context of science-fiction film history, these are special aliens. If you were wearing a motorcycle helmet with a sun visor, and then tried to fit a turtleneck sweater over your head, and it got stuck then you would look like this:

Solid protection from those evil UV rays

Peter is never heard from again, unfortunately. His model/FWB, Karin, has keys to his apartment and shows up looking for him. When she sees what he saw in his photos, she calls her reporter friend, Tony Harris (Robert Hoffman). He takes a few negatives and promises that he will investigate. After he leaves, we are signalled to the arrival of an alien visitor to the apartment by sound effects and a first-person camera angle. Photos disappear and Karin is telepathically ordered to drive to the site, where she also disappears. Meanwhile, Tony meets up with Inspector Grant (Martin Balsam), who is also investigating the disappearances. It's weird to see Balsam get the voice-dubbing here because he speaks English. Tony goes to resident UFO expert Coleman Perry (Victor Valente), who tells him that he is a believer in alien activity and wants to help him in his investigation. Tony's assistant at the paper is Monica (Nathalie Delon) who is either the world's most inept assistant or is in on the conspiracy. Later in the film we get a scene where Tony discovers the truth and just beats the snot out of the poor woman. I mean, it was some serious man on woman violence that will have one of two affects on you: you will either laugh at the audacity of it, or you will cringe at the flagrant physical abuse on display here. Myself, I laughed, because it's fiction.

A shady agency known as The Silencers, who act above the law in the name of protecting the human race from things that they don't understand, show up to grab Tony and demand the negatives that he took. This leads to a scene where The Silencers are with Tony in his apartment, shaking him down for the negatives, when an alien appears, hidden under a cloak of invisibility, to make the negatives disappear. There was certainly a missed opportunity to make the film more exciting here, but nope. The alien just shows up, makes the negatives disappear in a bright flash of light, and then leaves. No shoot out, no carnage. Yawn. This is the issue I had with the film.

It was hard to sit through this movie when it didn't create a sense of urgency. There were too many scenes of characters talking to one another and theorizing on life outside Earth, and investigative tactics and shady government characters talking on phones and not enough interaction from the aliens, or shoot outs or car chases or ANYTHING AT ALL TO MAKE THIS MOVIE EXCITING! Also, what the hell did the aliens want? We know they didn't want us to find out about them, and when someone did, they damn sure knew how to silence them. What we never find out is their purpose on Earth. They're just there already. The role The Silencer agency played was fine as they would show up and threaten and make things difficult. I also took issue with the dubbed voice acting at times, as they would alternate between saying "UFO" and "Yufo". I mean, it was funny, but pick a side and run with it throughout. 

Eyes Behind the Stars is not a horrible film, but is sure is a dull one. On that note alone, I cannot recommend it and suggest you avoid it.

Score: 1.5/5

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