"Short eyes" is prison slang for a man who sodomizes little boys. Fitting this odious description is new inmate Bruce Davison, who is arrested and locked up with the scum of the earth. Despite their own depravities, Davison's fellow prisoners consider him the lowest form of human life, and proceed to treat him accordingly, in a series of appalling episodes that must have been as hard to film as they are to watch. Most of the supporting cast is comprised of real-life hoodlums, junkies and killers; small wonder that Davison retains his deer-in-the-headlights facial expression throughout the film. Short Eyes was based on a play by Miguel Pinero.