Monday, March 28, 2022

Flame-Colored Glasses

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we're still wandering the forests of folk horror with yet another Shudder reissue of a Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched referenced film, and yes, IT'S MORE HISTORICAL HORROR. 

But this one...

This one has laser stuff.

Quick Plot: In 1750, teenage Fanny and younger Meg are found wandering French territory by a pair of unfriendly soldiers who don't take kindly to colonial pioneers. Fanny begs the soldiers to let them stay, recounting her tale of the horrors they discovered in the wild forest.

It began earlier in a British settlement, where Fanny's mother was nearly executed by the rigid Puritans who didn't approve of her shacking up with the preacher William Smythe. Smythe is noosed up and dropped from the gallows, but a mysterious surge of energy saves him.

Nobody notices that said laser surge occurs as his foster daughter (of sorts) Leah shouts some gibberish. 

Leah, you see, is a bit of a wild card. Her mother was burned as a witch, her own life spared by William's intervention. Since then, the young redhead never quite assimilated into the Puritan way, though her premonitions and ability to manipulate the natural world is certainly a handy tool to have when on the run.

Smythe gathers a few more townspeople to head west, where they quickly discover they're in uncharted Shawnee territory and worse, territory too terrifying for the indigenous people who have been surviving on the land far longer than our pasty white settlers.

What follows is a pretty groovy delve into haunted forest lore, with spirits' faces poking out of trees, ready to devour the woefully unprepared caravan. It's up to Leah, all frenetic red curls to match her fiery screams, to battle the horrors and see her surviving adopted family to safety. 

Like Dark Waters, Eyes of Fire is another of those "how have I never HEARD of this?" movies. It's simply unlike the typical titles I would have passed by on VHS shelves, and that is a damn shame. Once again, I'm left wondering how many other cult horror films owe it residuals (A Field In England pops to mind first) and why it's so hard to find more work from writer/director Avery Crounse (his other efforts, The Invisible Kid and Sister Island, are nowhere to be found in accessible release). 

It's weird, creepy, and best of all, surprising. What a find. 

High Points
Look: I know I started this review by teasing you with lasers -- and make no mistake, there ARE lasers -- but Eyes of Fire is wonderfully committed to its period, with admirable discipline to sticking its scenery, attitude, and actors in true 18th century sensibility

Low Points
I hate to pull the old job interview trick of "my weakness is that I work too hard and there are only 24 hours in a day" con, but it's true here! There's so much more I wanted to know about the forest's mythology and Smythe's shady past, about the origin of Leah's powers, and so on. I don't know if Eyes of Fire was always intended to be such a brisk 90 minute ride, but I would hang a witch for a director's cut

Lessons Learned
Old tricks are old tricks because they work

All ghosts are scary, but the ones that steal bonnets are truly terrifying

Indigenous children of the 18th century rocked perfect bangs

I'm a very easy mark for historical horror, but as The Last Thing Mary Saw should tell you, the movie still has to be GOOD. And Eyes of Fire is a blast. WITH LASER THINS NO LESS. Have at it. 


  1. Oh! This is an old favorite of mine!
    Though, I'd kinda erased all memory of the laser stuff.

    1. One might call them more "fires" or "sparks" than lasers, but it had the same effect!