Someone’s Watching Me!
Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Lauren Hutton, David Birney, Adrienne Barbeau
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
Someone’s Watching Me! (yes the exclamation point is part of the title) is the lost John Carpenter movie. I mean, have you see it? I never had and John Carpenter is my favorite director of all time, but this film for a good long time wasn’t available on disc and this is the first time it’s out on Blu-ray. This made-for-TV movie that John Carpenter both wrote and directed was made after he did Assault on Precinct 13 but before Halloween, although it actually came out one month after Halloween debuted. So yeah, I was very interesting in giving this new Blu-ray from Scream Factory a watch when I got it. Was I disappointed or is a hidden gem I am happy to add to my Carpenter collection? Well, grab your high-powered telescope, for god’s sake shut the drapes, and let’s find out.
Lauren Hutton plays a television director who moves into a very posh high rise called Arkham Tower. Hey, look at Carpenter showing off his love for H.P. Lovecraft so early in his career. Anyway, in a matching high rise across the way there is a creep with a telescope and nothing better to do with his time than peep on the ladies and call them on the telephone to harass them. Naturally he zeroes in on the lovely Laura and a game of cat and mouse begins. The besieged woman gets help from a new best friend (Adrienne Barbeau) and a new beau (David Birney), but the police can’t do anything for her because this was before current stalking laws, so unless some creep killed you, the cops were impotent. This all adds up to some good tension and fine suspense, and leads to murder and a final confrontation where only one, the stalker or the stalked, will survive.
As this is one of Carpenter’s early directing efforts it is obvious that he’s still finding his own voice. There is some of what the man would later hone into his trademark style, but you can see he is still experimenting here. That could explain while this looks and feels like Carpenter’s take on Hitchcock. From the open credits and music to many of the shots and set pieces, to even the overall plot that in many ways is an updating of Rear Window. Not that any of this is a bad thing, Hitch is a fine one to emulate and hell, Brian De Palma made a very successful career doing just that.
As for the acting, this is largely a one-woman show and Lauren Hutton is more than up to the task. That said, it’s great to see Adrienne Barbeau in here too and she does solid work playing a rarity on 70s TV: a lesbian who’s not a man-hater or a sexual predator of women. Good on Carpenter writing such a character.
On to the extras Scream Factory has given us on this new Blu-ray. First it must be said that this movie is presented in two formats. There is widescreen in 1.85.1 or side matted (the original 1978 television dimensions) in 1.33:1. Since choice is awesome that was a nice feature.There is an audio commentary with author Amanda Reyes who wrote The TV Movie Compendium, and while she has nothing to do with the movie it was nevertheless both informative and fun. There is a 10-and-a-half minute interview with actress Adrienne Barbeau, a nearly 10-minute interview with Charles Cyphers, an actor who has appeared in countless Carpenter films, and a six-minute interview with the man himself, John Carpenter. There is a “Horror’s Hollowed Grounds” featurette with Sean Clark that is seven minutes long, and I always like those. There is a collection of TV spots and a photo gallery to bring the list of extras to a close.
Someone’s Watching Me! is a fine example of a bygone genre: made-for-television thrillers. Yeah, there is no blood, swearing, or nudity, but this film is perfectly fine without any of that. As a John Carpenter fan it is great to see him grow as a director and to see many actors doing great work who would return to his films again and again. The story is nothing amazing, but at the time I would think it would have had more of a punch. That being said it is still an enjoyable watch and I recommend picking up this Blu-ray once it comes out August 7th.