Now, here’s an interesting movie I’d heard about for years. The long-lost John Carpenter TV movie that he’d done right before HALLOWEEN. It’s been unavailable in any format for years, but here it makes its grand debut on DVD, and I think I can speak for Carpenter fans everywhere when I say that it’s quite a treat!
Lauren Hutton stars as Leigh Michaels, a new resident of LA who works for a television studio and lives in a beautiful high-rise apartment complex. She soon starts getting anonymous gifts and harassing phone calls and it becomes quite obvious that the prankster is watching her closely. It’s not distracting her at first, but her paranoia grows as do the volume in phone calls. She tries to keep herself occupied with work and a budding new romance, but becomes afraid for her life at what her stalker will do next. With the police unable to do anything about the harassing phone calls (“We can’t do anything unless he tries to do something”), Leigh decides to start taking matters into her own hands, and begins investigating who the stalker could be.
I don’t want to give away who it is or how she goes about finding out because that’s half the fun! But it’s safe to say that even though this is a made-for-TV movie, it’s definitely trademark Carpenter. In fact, it’s fun to see evidence of his unique style so early in his career. For example, several times we see the “point-of-view” shot, which a few short months later he’d make famous with the opening of HALLOWEEN. And like most Carpenter films, the first half is slow. Moderately paced, revealing only bits of the story and letting it play out naturally. It isn’t until the second half when the tables turn and Leigh decides to do something about her stalker that things start to get really interesting.
It’s funny, nowadays with the advent of cell phones and caller ID, it’s difficult not to find this kind of story a bit out-dated, but because of the craft in the way the story is told visually, it still makes for an intriguing movie. There’s a particular tense scene in the parking garage where Leigh hides in an underground vent convinced her stalker is following her. And I can say with confidence that SOMEONE’S WATCHING ME also has a very satisfying conclusion. (And lead up to that conclusion.)
Also worthy of note? A few Carpenter alumni in the cast! Charles Cyphers (Sheriff Brackett himself) plays Gary Hunt, the officer keeping track of Leigh’s harassment. And foxy Adrienne Barbeau plays Leigh’s co-worker and friend Sophie. Lauren Hutton gives a pretty solid and believable performance at this stage in her career. I was always strangely intrigued & attracted to her. She’s kinda hot? But kinda not? But you can’t really take your eyes off her when she’s on screen. She makes me feel funny inside. Not sure why. Barbeau on the other hand, I’ve always had a crush on since THE FOG, SWAMP THING and BACK TO SCHOOL! So, I totally know where I stand on my feelings for Adriene Barbeau.
Overall, I’m glad this flick is finally available. As a life-long fan of Carpenter’s, it’s nice to be introduced to something from his filmography that I’d never experienced before.
Special Features: Besides being available for the first time, which in itself is a special feature, there’s a great little candid interview with John Carpenter talking about the history of this project. How he got involved, how fast the production went, working with the cast, etc. He still looks back fondly on this particular film with a lot of affinity. –Robg.
Buy it on Amazon.com!