I suppose a case could be made that See No Evil more or less accomplishes what it sets out to do: hole up its no-name cast in a decrepit hotel and have them offed one by one by a 6-foot-9-inch pro-wrestler in various excessively anti-social ways. The goal, as you can see, is not terribly lofty.
The problem is that even while achieving this end, the film is never remotely frightening. Oh, it’s gory. It has the requisite body count, and attains occasional moments of repulsiveness for its own sake. But the movie can’t even work up a good shock effect.
This, no doubt, is attributable to the film’s director, Gregory Dark — aka Gregory H. Brown, Greg Dark, A. Gregory Hippolyte, Alexander Hipplyte, et al. The reason for these various aliases is simple. Mr. Dark comes to us from the world of porn, having crafted such pieces as Sex Freaks, Hootermania and The Devil in Miss Jones 5: The Inferno. Skirting the question of just how different porn and exploitation horror really are, it’s clear that Dark’s entire concentration is on what we might call the “money shot.” In his previously chosen field, there’s not a whole lot of surprise or suspense regarding how said shot is achieved. Unfortunately, he applies the same aesthetic here, the only difference being that the “money shot” in this film involves eyeballs being ripped from their sockets.
There’s more random eye-plucking in See No Evil than in the Old Testament. While the image is undeniably repellent, it also quickly becomes rather dull — one plucked eyeball looking very much like another. Worse, Dark is only interested in the effect; getting there is apparently unimportant. The approach is invariable — large homicidal maniac appears, hooks victim, plucks eye.
Now, you might think that any horror movie with a 6-foot-9 wrestler at its center could at least work up a few good jumps. In this case, you would be wrong. Dark has no clue how to stage a good shock, or perhaps he doesn’t care to. The wrestler in question, Kane — aka Glen Jacobs, Diesel 2, Unibomb, Dr. Isaac Yankem — has noted in an interview that Dark “didn’t have to give me a lot of direction,” something that is alarmingly born out by the evidence on the screen.
Kane (who also claims that screenwriter Dan Madigan was able to write a script for him because “he knew my capabilities and what I could do”) plays a religion-bent serial killer called Jacob Goodnight, who, having been shot in the head (his least vulnerable spot) by a policeman, has taken up residency in an abandoned hotel. As with all such domiciles, the place has clearly earned the Psychotic Housekeeping Seal of Approval; so it’s no surprise that Goodnight’s appearance is always heralded by the sound of buzzing flies.
Into this, enter eight remarkably photogenic young convicts, who have been offered a month off their sentences in exchange for cleaning up the hotel. (Eight kids with garbage bags and brooms are going to accomplish this?) Of course, they’re all horny and dope-obsessed (two things that never mix well with psycho killers), speak in forced profanity and are sufficiently stupid that their various demises seem more like Darwin in action than tragedy. Except for one notable sequence (which earned the film a half-star bonus) in which a young lady is suspended upside down and mistaken for Alpo by a dog she earlier befriended (man’s best friend indeed), the killings are remarkably dull. Even the movie’s plot twist will surprise no one who’s ever seen a horror picture, completing the movie’s terminal ho-hummery.
As for Kane’s acting … well, now not only are his “capabilities” known to the writer of See No Evil, but to the rest of us. They’re very much in the tradition of that earlier wrestler-turned-actor Tor Johnson (aka the Super Swedish Angel), who lumbered his way through cheesy horror flicks in the 1950s, except that Kane is far less persuasive. If you insist on seeing this movie, be sure to stick around through the first part of the ending credits to see the ungrateful pooch return for a literally on-target assessment of Kane’s thespian abilities. Rated R for strong gruesome violence and gore throughout, language, sexual content and some drug use.
– reviewed by Ken Hanke