Director – Larry Cohen (It’s Alive, The Stuff)
Starring – Anne Carlisle (Crocodile Dundee, Liquid Sky), Brad Rijn (A Return to Salem’s Lot, Special Effects), and John Woehrle (Deadly Illusion, The Dead Pool)
Release Date – 1984
Rating – 2.5/5
Blu Release – 3.5/5
Tagline – “When they get you where they want you they can lead you…anywhere!”
When I was in high school I bought Larry Cohen’s It’s Alive on VHS at the local video store when it was going out of business. I loved the film. So much so that a friend of mine bought me the DVD set with all three for my birthday a few years later. These movies opened me up to other films from Larry Cohen like Q, The Stuff, and so on.
He’s a phenomenal filmmaker but one movie of his I never really had an interest in was his 1984 crime thriller Perfect Strangers. I actually owned this movie on DVD for some years but never brought myself to watch it. That changed when Vin Syn sent over the film on blu to review. I still wasn’t expecting much but I went into it open minded. Thanks Vin Syn for sending this one my way.
**spoiler Alert**The film follows hit man Johnny (Rijn) who took out a man in a dark alley way. No one saw him commit the crime except a two year old little boy. He tells his boss and he is instructed to take out the kid before he is able to talk. He reluctantly agrees and starts a relationship with the boy’s mother. He plans on getting close to her and then when she least expects it an “accident” will befall the youth. When he get’s his chance he kidnaps the kid but can’t bring himself to go through it. He takes him back to his mother who is waiting for him…with a knife. **spoiler Alert**
I really wanted to like this one but after 20 minutes I found myself watching the clock tick down rather than the film. The movie does pick up in the last quarter but the first three quarters of film was painfully dull.
The acting in this one is difficult to discuss. Some scenes I really liked but other scenes were awkward to watch. Rijn was a great pick to play the hitman with a soft spot. However, Anne Carlisle just wasn’t selling me on her character. Her scenes were very underwhelming and her dialogue just doesn’t sit well with me. The supporting cast has it’s moments but most of the scenes are hammed up by the cast.
The story for this one could have been a solid crime thriller in the same vain as The Godfather but the romantic angle really brings the story down. It doesn’t have the impact Cohen is looking for. In fact, the slow burning romantic scenes really pulls the tone of the film down. The last 20 minutes or so of the film was really entertaining but not enough to redeem the rest of the film.
Finally, the film has some blood but nothing most horror fans are looking for. We get some stab wounds with plenty of blood but they are nothing memorable. Overall, Perfect Strangers is a lackluster crime thriller that just doesn’t flow well. The romantic scenes does not flow well with the crime elements in the film. The blu looks great and deserves to be on any collector’s shelf but I can’t recommend this one to people looking for something different to watch.
Newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 35mm interpositive
“A True Artist” – an interview with actress Anne Carlisle
“Shadow in the City” – an archival interview with director Larry Cohen
Promotional still gallery
Reversible cover artwork
SDH English subtitles