Eye See You: Blind Vision (1992)

It may have shades of Hitchcock and De Palma, but Dave believes Shuki Levy’s film is good enough to stand on its own.

On the face of it, you could shrug BLIND VISION off with the label of a cheap Rear Window (1954) derivative. But if you look a little closer, it’s more like a relation to Brian De Palma’s own Rear Window homage, Body Double (1984) – albeit assuming the role of the neglected sibling who got pregnant at fifteen, and who’s now shacked up with her good-for-nothing boyfriend on the other side of town.

Billed quite firmly in the trade press as an ‘Erotic Thriller’, Shuki Levy’s film is anything but. It concerns itself with the unassuming life of William Dalton (Lenny von Dohlen), an introverted mailroom employee who develops an obsession with company secretary Leanne (Deborah Shelton). Fortunately for William, not only can he pine over Leanne at work, but he also happens to reside in the apartment across the street from her. And come evening, he can found ogling her through the viewfinder of his telephoto lens. However, when the object of his affection beds down for the night with workmate Gregg (Tom Sean Foley), his subsequent murder implicates William as a suspect – and the presence of the victim’s wallet in his abode does little to soften the suspicion of guilt.

You have to wonder if the aforementioned De Palma flick had the hazel-eyed glint of Lenny von Dohlen in place of the dreary Craig Wasson, whether it would have stood taller in the director’s imposing resume. Simply, von Dohlen is a revelation here. Best known for his orchid obsession in Twin Peaks, he brings a depth of character to Levy’s impressive film that separates it from its peers. He’s assisted ably by an ensemble that includes Stoney Jackson, Robert Vaughn, a spinsterish Louise Fletcher, and Ned Beatty at his procedural best. Shelton (who was Mrs. Levy at the time) has a role that’s a tad undercooked, but then it needs to be in order to maintain the air of mystery that cloaks Levy and Winston Richard’s script. Ironically, she brings a direct connection to Body Double – although to see her in her ‘90s prime we’d have to wait twelve months, when she took the lead in Gregory Dark’s excellent Sins of the Night (1993).

Levy’s main trade was as a composer, lending his tunesmith qualities to one-hundred and thirty TV shows. Blind Vision was his second directing gig [1] and the final one for an adult audience, which seems a shame as aside from a couple of pacing issues, he clearly had great vision for crafting a fine thriller. The film is rarely better than when we’re voyeuristically peering into Leanne’s apartment from over the road, with only the sound of William’s breath for company. And despite a narrative that points blatantly towards twist-laden predictability, the final scene is a triumph of originality.

Shot in the area of Norfolk, Virginia in the Spring of 1990, Blind Vision hit VHS on 7th July 1992 courtesy of World Vision Home Video, which is where it’s stayed with no subsequent venture onto DVD, Blu-ray or streaming as of this writing.

USA ● 1992 ● Thriller ● 92mins

Lenny von Dohlen, Deborah Shelton, Ned Beatty, Robert Vaughn ● Dir. Shuki Levy ● Wri. Shuki Levy, Winston Richard

[1] Levy’s debut was a thankfully long-forgotten entry in the short-lived AIDSploitation trend: Perfect Victims (1988) told the decidedly misogynistic story of a psycho who blames his AIDS diagnosis on women and begins a rohypnol and rape spree. Like Blind Vision, Deborah Shelton also played the lead. Unlike Blind Vision, that’s the only good thing you can say about it.

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