Erotic Underground Interlude: Andrew Stevens' Night Eyes Films

Andrew Stevens. Actor, director, writer, producer, and king of the erotic thriller.  His career began in the early 70's and spanned into the early 2010's.  During the heyday of erotica, Stevens was involved in several projects that kept the genre alive on direct to video in the mid 1990's.  While his performances in Body Chemistry 3 and Red Blood American Girl remain iconic, the Night Eyes film series is the epitome of Stevens' dedication.  Perhaps the most fascinating discovery when revisiting these lost classics is in how the neo-noir survived the 20th century by hiding within trashy, adult oriented cinema.  While there are a handful of classics that also bridged the gap (Mulholland Drive, Eyes Wide Shut) of 21st century noir, the lion's share of modern detective mysteries was burdened upon direct to video sleaze, and the Night Eyes films are a totemic representation of this truth.  What follows is an exploration of all four films.  Sadly, they are only available on DVD through various online markets. 

Night Eyes (1990)

Jag Mundhra's Night Eyes features Stevens opposite Tanya Roberts, with Stevens portraying a security specialist who is hired to "protect" a musician's estranged wife during their messy divorce proceedings.  What begins as a less than honest job soon turns into a dangerous affair in which infatuation, murder, and deception are commonplace.  While Stevens and Roberts are both equally subdued and simultaneously electric, it is Stephen Meadows' meteoric portrayal of an alcoholic rocker past his prime that is perhaps the most entertaining element of the film. His non chemistry with Roberts is laughable, yet his performance conjures ethos and tragedy in virtually every one of his scenes. While the plot is somewhat predictable, the classic man in over his head and femme fatale tropes are enhanced by Stevens and Roberts' dedication to their roles. 

Night Eyes II (1992)

Filmed within one month, Night Eyes II sees the return of Andrew Stevens' Will Griffith along with the additions of Richard Chaves (Poncho in Predator) and the erotic thriller queen, Shannon Tweed.   Directed by Rodney McDonald the story follows Griffith as he's hired to protect a foreign diplomat after an assassination attempt.  Naturally his wife (Tweed) becomes entangled with Griffith leading to dangerous consequences.  It's probable that no softcore sex scene will top the marbles sequence from In the Cold of the Night (also featuring Tweed) however, Eyes II features a scene involving raspberries that comes perilously close.  The sequel features Griffith yet again forgetting his own trade and implicating himself along with another possible fatale in Tweed.  Ultimately, the second installment coasts entirely on Stevens and Tweed's natural chemistry that is exploited to the maximum, eclipsing and sense of narrative, and the film most likely better for it with the end result being the best film in the franchise. 

Night Eyes III (1993)

Helmed by Stevens himself and also shot in under 30 days, Night Eyes III is perhaps the most restrained entry in the series.  Tweed also returns, but as a different character.  The story follows Griffith (once again) falling for the woman he is protecting.  In this outing, the focus is on the TV world as Tweed and her rival (portrayed by Tweed's sister Tracy) compete for fame and fortune on the set of a cable police show.  One of the most intriguing aspects of this entry is that Stevens allows Tweed more levity with her role and with it she easily takes the spotlight.  While the violence and even sex is somewhat subdued when compared to the previous entries, this is one of the most fun films in the series as it doubles down on the insanities of the worst security guard in history. 

Night Eyes 4: Fatal Passion (1996)

The final film in the series, Fatal Passion sees Andrew Stevens pass the reins to Jeff Trachta.  Rodney McDonald returned to direct and former playmate Paula Barbieri plays the female lead.  The story involves Griffith being shot and his protégé investigating the crime whilst protecting Griffith's last client, a brilliant, and possibly compromised therapist.  When distilled to its essence, this film is a sum of the best and worst of the previous three films.  There is more sex than almost all three of the other films combined, the mystery is wonderfully convoluted, and it features Casper Van Dien in his second role, firmly entrenching Fatal Passion as a celebration of the ludicrous world of Night Eyes, a place where security specialists and dangerous dames are destined to dance forever.

--Kyle Jonathan