Eyes Behind the Stars (Occhi Dalle Stelle; 1978)

Greetings again, readers. This morning’s movie left me in the mood for more aliens, plus it dawned on me that due to being out and about, we’re looking at three weeks until my next review. So, I turned to that ever-trusty source of RSR-worthy films — my stack of Mill Creek Entertainment 50-movie boxed sets. Let’s see what we have here…yes…yes…yes! EYES BEHIND THE STARS, an Italian film with slumming American actors, perfect! Let’s pop this baby in the player and get watching, shall we?

Spoilers ensue.

While developing photos he’d taken of one of his models, Peter Collins (king of the stupid haircut people, played by Franco Garofalo, who also appeared in HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD) notices something unusual in the background of one of the photos.  Going back into the woods to investigate the area, Collins discovers evidence to suggest that the unusual something in the background of that photo was actually a genuine flying saucer.  Unfortunately for him, this proof comes in the form of the fact that the aliens are still there and watching him (via the time-honored technique of fish-eye lens POV shots).  Before he knows it, Collins is flat on his back on a glowing table inside the saucer.

Fortunately for him, these aliens aren’t the anal-probing type; they content themselves with waving some colored lights over him.

Sometime later, Karen (the model Collins had been photographing), concerned about his whereabouts, lets herself into his apartment and finds the photos he’d developed; she takes them to a mutual friend, journalist Tony Harris.  Harris also takes the negatives to make copies of later.

Before long, Harris gets a tip that leads him to the woods where all this happened — both Peter and Karen’s cars have been reported abandoned on the edge of a field.  Yes, Karen’s too; it seems the aliens got a look at her in Peter’s memories and decided to use some sort of mental force to bring her to them.  Here Harris runs into Police Detective Grant (Martin Balsam, whom you probably know better as Detective Arbogast from PSYCHO) who initially hinders Harris’ investigation.

Grant’s suspicions are raised when the military gets involved, leading him to at least semi-side with Harris, while they are also joined by Harris’ sexy redheaded assistant, Monica, forming the Scully to his Mulder in this investigation.

Meanwhile, the aliens are covertly sneaking around destroying evidence of their presence — such as the photos Collins took, and the burn marks on the ground at the landing site.

Soon, not only the military, but a thuggish Men in Black-esque organization known as “The Silencers” are involved as well.  The Silencers, as their name suggests, are working to keep the existence of extraterrestrial life a secret from the general populace, and aren’t afraid to use beatings or even murder to accomplish their aims.

In the face of all this, will Tony Harris get his story?

THE END?

This feels like The X-FIles.  And I’m not just saying that because I watched a David Duchovny film this morning.  Tony Harris is a pretty clear analogue to Fox Mulder as the investigator who has encountered evidence of extraterrestrial life and finds himself disbelieved, while his assistant Monica is not only female and has red hair, but acts as a skeptical voice.  Harris goes to a true believer for additional information, fulfilling the role of the Lone Gunmen.  The Silencers correspond pretty neatly to The Syndicate, at least as depicted in the early episodes of The X-Files before the mythology was fleshed out, and are led by a Cigarette-Smoking Man analogue who, wildly enough, even looks like William P. Davis.

The similarities are kinda eerie, actually, especially since as far as I know there’s no evidence of Chris Carter ever having seen this before embarking on The X-Files.

However, unlike the average X-Files episode, this is profoundly slow-moving and bland.

I will vouch in favor of the aliens however — they’ve got this amazing minimalist design, consisting of gray chenille hooded bodystockings, black leather collars and chest-pieces, and blue glass domes filling the inside of the hood, creating a blank, TV-screen like facade.

Final Analysis: Bland and slow-moving, yes, but at heart a really effective conspiracy story.  There are some really genuine twists to this story.  Definitely worth a check-out, if only once.

Overall, I give EYES BEHIND THE STARS (1978)…

FOUR BARRELS OF TOXIC WASTE.

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