I’m not sure how I missed this little gem back in the 80’s which stars Michael Lerner (Godzilla 1998 & Barton Fink) as John the optometrist gone mad controlled by his freakish eyeball collecting Mother, Zelda Rubinstein (Poltergeist). John goes into a movie theater at Mother’s direction and seat hops killing unsuspecting movie watchers and plucking their eyeballs out. But wait, this is just the movie within the movie. Once thoroughly sucked into this weird family, the camera suddenly pans back and we are in a movie theater watching with other glassy eyed patrons. That’s where we meet Patty and Linda, two teenage girls. Linda is enjoying the flick while Patty is really starting to freak out, she wants to go home but Linda, my kinda girl, says no way! After a bit Patty decides she is leaving with or without her friend, she makes a pit stop to the ladies room and gets freaked out again by another person using the facility. She slinks back into the theater and promptly tells Linda there is a man in the ladies room. For some unknown reason Linda agrees to go check it out but only if Patty stays and fills her in on what she misses. Once in the lobby, Linda witnesses a man exit the screen area only to execute the ticket seller and popcorn peddler. She ducks into the men’s room and gets trapped inside hiding from the madman. From here on out the film jumps back and forth from the eye movie to the real theater with events happening in a strange synchronicity.
I really enjoyed everything about this from the Fulciesque eye gouging scenes and the weirdness of little Zelda Rubinstein spouting commands in her best “Carolann go toward the light!” voice, right down to the realness of a psychopath carrying out his own dirty deeds in the theater. When Lerner’s character goes into the Movie Theater onscreen it’s nearly perfect, a movie within a movie within a movie. The effect would have been perfection had I seen this in an actual movie theater. I bet people were looking around suspiciously at the other patrons just like they were in the Linda/Patty world. Cool concept, a real hit for me.