Oct 12, 2006
Day 11- Hooray, that someone is me!
Straight from The Amanda Collection into my heart goes the little-seen, little-known 1978 TV movie Someone's Watching Me! As I popped the DVD in, I thought..."Hmm...the title sounds a little familiar, yet I know nothing of this so-called "Someone's Watching Me". Is it because the Rockwell son "Somebody's Watching Me" immediately got stuck in my head when the title placard appeared? I hate that song. This movie better not suck."
Then the names started appearing on the screen...Lauren Hutton...Adrienne Barbeau...and John Carpenter. Yes folks, the film is written and directed by John Carpenter, he of the fogs and the shapes and the ghosts of Mars of which we do not speak. Thankfully, this is prime 1978 Carpenter, back when he was setting about making himself a master of the craft of filmmaking.
Lauren Hutton stars as Leigh Michaels, a New York to Los Angeles transplant who takes a new job as a director at a television station. She's the pluck, independent type...a little loopy, maybe, but Carpenter's written her so she has just the slightest whiff of a Hawksian dame. Ten minutes into this movie, I'm thinking...why haven't I seen more Lauren Hutton movies? There should be more Lauren Hutton movies. She's just so fucking rad, what with that gap and all. As Amanda herself would say...WHITE. HOT.
At any rate, what Leigh doesn't know is that there's a creepy peeping tom/stalker type living in the high-rise directly opposite hers and wouldn't you know- he trains his extremely long, extremely phallic lens on Leigh straight away.
It's not long before Leigh's...admirer makes himself known. He leaves her odd gifts, like a telescope of her very own. He calls her at home, at work...he leaves notes on her door. In two extremely tense sequences, he actually invades Leigh's home. At one point, she comes home and finds the door to her apartment open. She finds no one, and when the phone rings, she takes the call. Then, in a flash, we see a black-clad figure dart through a room behind her. It's a frightening shot- a subtle, understated shot- pure Carpenter.
Later, after having sought the help of the police (who, of course, can't do anything because Mr. Creep hasn't really done anything himself), Leigh comes home and hears the sound of her shower running. Thinking it's her boyfriend (David Birney- how bitchin' is that?), she heads into the steamy room only to find this terrifying message:
Someone's Watching Me! gets its Rear Window on towards the end as Leigh figures out which apartment across the way belongs to Mr. Creep and she goes to investigate as her pal Sophie (Adrienne Barbeau) watches from Leigh's apartment and talks to her via walkie talkie. Instead of coming after Leigh, however, Mr. Creep goes after Sophie. Leigh can only watch helplessly as Mr. Creep becomes Mr. Murderer.
This early Carpenter effort is very Hitchcockian throughout. It's a tense movie, not an explicit one (it was made for television after all)- and Carpenter really knows how to use that camera to set up some brilliant shots.
As I said earlier, I liked Leigh- she's smart, she's funny- but she can be extremely frustrating as well. I mean, you know some pervo is spying on you from across the way and yet you refuse to close your drapes? Oh, Leigh, come on. I know you don't want him to control your life, but still. the supporting cast is fantastic too, from David Birney as Leigh's sweet, supportive new boyfriend to Carpenter mainstay Charles Cyphers as, of course, the detective assigned to Leigh's case. I do love a director who's loyal to his actors. Of course, let us not neglect to mention again Adrienne Barbeau as Sophie, Leigh's lesbian co-worker. Yes, lesbian. The beauty of it is that Sophie isn't there for titillation or social commentary- she just...is. Her sexual preference, when addressed, is handled with maturity- it's just another characteristic. From the outset, Sophie assures Leigh that she's "not her type". That's a good thing, because I'm sure a Barbeau/Hutton hookup would...I don't know, cause a rip in the very fabric of space and time or something for all its hotness.
The main problem I have with movies like Someone's Watching Me!, the stalker genre, is that you can be fairly assured that the protagonist isn't really in any danger until the film's end, during the confrontation with the stalker- and even then, you know that most likely the hero or heroine will escape. That's a small gripe that's aimed at the genre, however, and not so much the film itself. John Carpenter and his fine cast created a real gem of suspense here, and it makes me pine for the days when TV movies were awesome. I give it 8.5 out of 10 bitchin' gapped teeth.