Monday, March 30, 2009

Cry for the Strangers (1982)

Network: CBS
Original Air Date: February 11th, 1982

It would have been almost impossible for any horror nerd growing up in the 80s to not have heard of John Saul. Considered one of the greats of modern genre writing, he's only had one of his books turned into a film, and that film is the not-so-good Cry for the Strangers starring Patrick Duffy.

The Duff with some scruff

Duffy is Dr. Brad Russell, a psychiatrist who moves his family to an island so he can concentrate on his writing. This idyllic place is instantly marred with death when Brad and his wife Elaine (Cindy Pickett) see an old fisherman's body being plucked from the sea on their first day! Undeterred, they move into a beach side home near "Devil's Elbow" (I know, is that a horrible name or what?!?), where it seems some kind of mystical, nefarious activity has been known to take place. Strange things happen, bodies begin to appear and Brad is determined to get to the bottom of this haphazard, half-hearted mystery. Uh, yay?

Devil's Elbow scares chicks!

There's some good stuff in Strangers. Directed by Peter Medak, the scenery is awe-inspiring (minus the one set of clouds rolling in, which they show, like, three hundred thousand times!) and the cast, which includes Brian Keith is pretty good. Unfortunately, the story and pacing leave a lot to be desired. It's just so hard to grasp onto anything of interest in Strangers, and it falters amazingly so.

I'll be honest, I've never read John Saul's work, but I imagine as it usually is with adaptations, the book is better than the film. At least I hope so! And although I know better, I hope he didn't seriously write about a place called Devil's Elbow!


Mike Briggs said...

Where was this movie flimed? I think it was Haceta Head Lighthouse near Florence Oregon. Am I correct?s

Amanda By Night said...


I saw both Florence, Oregon and Coupeville, Whidbey Island, Washington listed on IMDb. I couldn't find my copy to watch the credits. If I come across it though and see a different locale, I post it here, but I believe you are probably most correct!

Bush Clinton said...

I've read the novel this was adapted from. The novel takes place in Clarks Harbor, Washington, which the author invented himself. So, I'm not surprised if it was filmed in Oregon and Washington.

As for Devils Elbow, this is nothing more than the B.S. lack of imagination on the part of the movie producers. In the book, the place was called Sod Beach. Sod came from Sands of Death, which was a term the natives applied.

Cry for the Strangers is not John Saul's best work, but it is a very good novel. I'm actually surprised that Suffer the Children wasn't made into a movie, but at the same time I am relieved that an outstanding thriller like Suffer the Children wasn't completely destroyed by a production as poor as this one.

John Saul has written many outstanding novels. His earliest novels are classics, but his best work was in the 1990's when he published Guardian, Black Lightning, The Right Hand of Evil, and in 2000 published Nightshade. His last great piece of work was Midnight Voices in 2002. Since then, he has written some pretty good books, but I get the impression that he is possibly going senile. Just an opinion.

Anonymous said...

this was in fact filmed near Florence, OR, specifically at Heceta Head lighthouse, located next to/above Devil's Elbow State Park (yes, the real name of the beach/park), and a few miles North along Hwy 101 near Yachats, OR. All of the beach house and beach scenes were filmed in Oregon, while all of the scenes of the bay and fishing town were filmed in Washington state. I was about 7 and living in Florence when this was filmed , and remember watching it as a kid, just saw it again a couple days ago for the first time in years, and wow, what a boring movie. I loved it for the scenerey of Oregon Coast, the lighthouse, and Devil's Elbow, but plot and much of the acting was sub-par for sure. The storm scene they play over and over is unbearable, you just want it to go away by the end of the movie. It's fun to watch if for nothing more than making fun of it.

TheJAMMan said...

Where can I find that movie? Can I download the movie? Where did you get that TV rip?

Amanda By Night said...

I saw the movie on Encore Mystery, I believe...

And thanks all for posting all that info about where they shot this movie. I want to visit Devil's Elbow!

VoyagerG said...

Okay-this my Duffy-raving comment-I just watched this movie on Netflix and left a review this week!
I have become a certified P. Duffy fan...he's just dreamy and so dang sweet and earnest in everything. Though I never saw Dallas or Knots Landing..were not my type of shows, and way too young to get it at the time..I'm afraid to get into them being that it's like a million seasons! roflol.
But Man from Atlantis..WOW! I LOVE it! And all those little tv movies afterward...and I was a TGIF girl, and he is hilarious! I've been watching old clips on Youtube and laughing myself silly. Haven't seen it in 15 years!
As for this flick, I did want to go as nuts as the..well, the nut at the ending, with the constant Jaws-like music and storm clouds and lightning every five minutes...or as you so rightly put it, 300,000 times!
I liked Duff with the scruff too. But he's gotta have it, and a sweater-it's an early eighties supernatural film, there must be a coastal town with weird goings-on and secrets, lots of secrets. LOL. I think you get my drift. haha.
I also couldn't get over how much Cindy Pickett looks like Catherine Mary Stewart in this movie.

VoyagerG said...

Oh TV Movie Queen Amanda, I'm looking for the Duffy movie-'Too good to be true.' It was a 1988 tv movie remake of the very chilling 1945 drama-Leave her to Heaven.
This version had Loni Anderson and Neil Patrick Harris. I would pay for a dub of that, I can't find it anywhere. :( Do you have it?

VoyagerG said...

Okay, guess what!? I realized that the movie I was looking for is called 'Devil or Angel' too. I just found 3 VHS copies of Duffy flicks on ebay for 2.99 and that was one of them! YAY! I hope I win it...can't imagine anyone bidding but you never know. It's only one more day. But here's the amazon link, they are really expensive on there.-

Anonymous said...

Wow I was living in Florence when they filmed this moviein fact some of the cast stayed at The Ragan Motel which at that time was owned by my parents to this day I havent seen the movie but I have had two encounters with the elderly lady that hangs out at the house and the parking lot for those of you who have encountered her you know what I mean