Eye of the Stranger (1993)

Nomination Year: 2015
SYNOPSIS:  I don't know if David Heavener the actor is right-handed or left-handed, but I feel it's safe to say that David Heavener the director is heavy-handed.

It's not that he lacks style (or technical ability). It's just that when he has a clever technique, he promptly uses it to death.

So understand that when you see a nifty shot (such as his character appearing out of the darkness by lighting a cigarette near his face), you'll see that shot again. And again. At least one time too many.

And the soundtrack isn't really a whole lot of help, either. The sound effects were slightly off, and sometimes it was impossible to tell whether something weird that you heard was an oddity of the score or was intended to be an off-screen Foley of something that you should recognize (be it gunshot or wind-chime).

The plot is very mysterious. By which I mean there is a little too much Spooky Mystery lying about for what (when all is said and done) is a simple little noirish revenge flick.

A couple of thugs (lead by Don Swayze, Patrick's brother) are harassing the owners of a Chinese restaurant. The town's Sheriff (Joe Estevez) is doing nothing to stop them, in part because he's a drunk, and in part because the thugs are sent by the town's Mayor (Martin Landau). Hanging over them all is something bad which happened several years previously.

Into this mix walks a nameless Stranger who proceeds to play the harmonica, give money to a shoeshine bum, stand up for the owners of the Chinese restaurant, work for the mayor, double-cross the mayor, pay for a really expensive funeral, and so on. He's played by David Heavener, the writer/director/producer of the film. David plays mysterious-man-in-town well, and eventually gets to the bottom of everything, at which point everybody gets his comeuppance (or comedownance).

Even if we never do find out what his character's name is, or who the expensive funeral is for (as the last time we see that coffin open, there are three dead bodies in it).

"Cutting Butter With A Chainsaw"

Jeb Emmentaler?
The mayor gets Jeb all liquored up, and sends him off to menace The Stranger with his shotgun. The Stranger tries to talk him down, but the Mayor's goons walk up with their guns, and order Jeb to put the gun down ... "nigger." Jeb whirls, and the goons fire. And fire. And fire. And fire. Just to be on the safe side, they shoot him up a little more.

Actors/Directors of Note
Actor Claim to Fame
David Heavener Not only an actor, writer, director, and a martial artist, he also composes and performs Christian music. 
Martin Landau won an Academy Award for his role as Bela Lugosi in Tim Buron's Ed Wood 
Don Swayze younger brother of actor Patrick Swayze 
Joe Estevez Martin Sheen's brother, making him Charlie Sheen's and Emilio Estevez's uncle; he plays a lot of bit parts. 
Wendy Pan this is her only role, per imdb 
Director Claim to Fame
David Heavener martial arist, writer, actor, director, producer, and composer of Christian music -- you know what they say about jacks of all trades? 

Kevin Hogan

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