CRY FOR THE STRANGERS (1982)
Article 4551 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Peter Medak
Featuring Patrick Duffy, Cindy Pickett, Lawrence Pressman
What it is: Ghost story
A psychiatrist and his wife move to a small coastal town and discover that something is killing off people on dark, stormy nights… and that it targets strangers and newcomers.
There’s some truly atmospheric shots of storm clouds coming up over the horizon that are very effective during the opening sequence of this movie; this sequence is very eerie and effectively draws you into the story. The movie manages to ride that eeriness throughout the first half, even though you can see the movie succumbing to a few of the “strangers in a small town” cliches that pop up in movies like this. It’s only at about the halfway point when I really found myself realizing that they were getting an awful lot of mileage out of that storm cloud footage; it’s not the same identical footage each time, but it’s obvious it’s all footage from the same shot, and it’s at this time that the relentless use of that footage starts calling attention to itself. And therein lies the problem with the movie; it goes to the same well too often, and the law of diminishing returns sets in, and I found myself getting more annoyed by the movie as it went along. The movie then throws in a surprising but very disappointing revelation, and then backtracks so that the movie can have it both ways, a strategy that is truly unsatisfying. Well, at least there’s Jeff Corey to keep us entertained; he seemed to have cornered the market on a certain type of crazed local color.