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The 11-year old daughter and girlfriend of a man whose wife had been raped and killed in front of his daughter three years earlier are kidnapped by the same killer. Held captive in a bunker below Grand Central Station, the two plot their escape while the police try to track the kidnaper. Written by
Jerry Milani <email@example.com>
Fairly Riveting, Despite An Unfleshed-Out Screenplay
Thirteen years before sitting in a Star Fleet captain's chair and going up against such alien homicidal monstrosities as the Borg, the Kazon, the Hirogen and Species 8472, Kate Mulgrew did battle with a homicidal monster of a much more mundane nature, in 1982's "A Stranger Is Watching." Based on Mary Higgins Clark's best seller of 1977 (which, to be honest, I've never read), the film shows us what happens when 11-year-old Julie Peterson (well played by Shawn von Schreiber)--who had seen her mother brutally raped and killed two years earlier--is kidnapped along with the woman (Mulgrew) who is dating her widower dad. The thuggish lout (Rip Torn) hauls the pair to the underground labyrinth beneath Grand Central Station, a hellish world unto itself, where he caches them and schemes to acquire his ransom. The film is a fairly taut thriller, into which director Sean S. Cunningham manages to generate more suspense than he had two years earlier in the overrated "Friday the 13th." A background score by the great Lalo Schifrin adds immeasurably to the tension on screen, and all four principals--including James Naughton as Julie's understandably desperate dad--turn in fine performances. Unfortunately, the story is a tad too simplistic for this viewer's taste. We never learn anything about the nutjob Artie Taggart, other than the fact that he wants to raise horses in Arizona; his background, and why he's chosen this particular moment to kidnap Julie, remain mysteries. If only the film's screenplay were as multilayered as Grand Central Station itself seems to be! Still, despite the unfleshed-out nature of the picture's most interesting character, the film does manage to keep the viewer riveted. Kate, post-"Ryan's Hope" here but still hardly a household name, is always wonderful to watch, and looks quite beautiful in this early screen role. And while Artie Taggart may not be as relentless as one of the Borg, he still manages to give the old girl a pretty tough time....
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