MOVIE: Someone’s Watching Me! (1978)

someoneswatchingmeI have no idea how I got to be 35 years old without having seen every John Carpenter movie ever made.  BUT I DID.  So, I’ve decided it’s time to correct that grievous error.  I started with this one, the so-called “lost” Carpenter movie (so called because it didn’t come out on VHS or DVD until 2007), because it was on the local video store’s “Recommended for Halloween” shelf and  co-starred Adrienne Barbeau, who I have loved since I first saw her in Carpenter’s The Fog about 20 years ago.  I’ll watch anything Adrienne Barbeau was in, which explains why I’ve seen Bimbo Movie Bash.  And also Burial of the Rats.  Shut up, I can’t help myself.

This movie is about a young woman, Leigh Michaels (Lauren Hutton, so pretty), who has just moved to LA from NY after a botched workplace romance cost her her job as a live TV director.  She moves into a fantastic new apartment building, complete with the latest in heating and cooling technology (ooh!) and a gorgeous view from every room of the big city.  Within a week, she’s also landed a great job at a local TV station, where she meets a new BFF, Sophie (Barbeau), and not long after that, she adds a new boyfriend to the mix, a local philosophy professor,  Paul (David Birney — sigh. . . so dreamy).

Things are going pretty amazingly great when she suddenly starts receiving a bunch of strange letters in the mail.  The letters say she will win a free six-month vacation in Europe if she can correctly identify the location based on a series of gifts she will receive.  Okay, weird, but kind of exciting too, right?  But then the gifts start to arrive —  a telescope, a very teeny string bikini — and with them, a series of breathy, creepy phone calls (“Hope the bathing suit fits,”  delivered as though by Darth Vader (hooooo-haaaaaa), for example).

Eventually, those phone calls escalate to downright terrifying, and it becomes clear that the caller can both see and hear her in her apartment.  The cops can’t do anything, so Leigh enlists the help of both Sophie and Paul to try to figure out who is behind it all.  From there quickly to chaos, and not everyone gets out of it alive.

While this may seem like a fairly standard stalker thriller — it’s not a plot we haven’t already seen a million times, right? — it’s actually pretty well-made and suspenseful.  Great lighting and camera-work (not that I know anything about lighting and camera-work, mind you), and I always find movies like this — “That could happen to me” movies — fairly effective in terms of being unnerving or chilling.

I also looooved the 70’s hair, clothes, and attitudes, and I really liked Hutton’s Leigh, who is both tough and fragile, quirky and sweet.  By the end, even while I was yelling at her not to be so stupid (when your stalker leaves you a note that says, “I’ll be in the parking garage until 11:30,” might I suggest NOT going to the parking garage?  Or at least waiting until, say, 11:45?  I’m just sayin’), I was also really rooting for her.  This does not always happen when it comes to me and heroines in scary movies.

All in all, a pretty entertaining thriller well worth a rental, especially if you like “scary” movies that don’t contain a single drop of blood.  Recommended!

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre:  Thriller
Cast:  Lauren Hutton, Adrienne Barbeau, David Birney (sigh. . . so dreamy — this is how his name must always be said, mind you), John Mahon


7 Responses to “MOVIE: Someone’s Watching Me! (1978)”

  1. alisaj29 Says:

    I haven’t seen this movie, but I may have to now, I love Lauren Hutton. Hubby and I were just watching her last night in the Jim Carrey movie Once Bitten. That movie is just so “Stupid Funny.”

    This msg is for Madonna…. Lauren Hutton can pull off (no pun untended) the gap tooth look, YOU can NOT.

    I will say that my all-time favorite suspense movies have got to be Gas Light w/Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, and Wait Until Dark w/Audrey Hepburn. I’ve probally mentioned these movies before, but I think they are worth repeating. That’s how suspense movies should be made.

  2. megwood Says:

    I have to second “Gaslight” and “Wait Until Dark.” The former is great for two primary reasons for me: Angela Lansbury and Joseph Cotten. The second is great because it’s frakkin’ terrifying, and never gets any less so no matter how many times I’ve seen it. Plus, Richard Crenna, mrrrowl!

  3. Trip Says:

    Wow…John Carpenter movies!

    I just may have to revisit Escape from New York and They Live all over again now. A thousand times on a portable B&W set teetering on my belly throughout the 80’s just isn’t enough, I tell ya.

    Look at the cast list for Escape – it’s B-action movie bliss! The Duke is Chef! (Or is Chef the Duke?!)

    And how great is two guys consuming 10 minutes of screen time beating the holy bejesus out of each other just to put on a pair of sunglasses?

  4. Liz Says:

    I remember “They Live!” AND I remember that fight scene, and thinking: “Okay, the mandatory fight – because the lead is being played by a professional wrestler.” Rowdy Roddy Piper, wasn’t it? Somehow, I think hinting that it might have been kind of … lame … is probably not a good idea … so I won’t! (?)

  5. megwood Says:

    I don’t know how I missed your post here, Tripster, but I got Liz’s so I came to find out what the hell she was talking about. Oh man, Escape from New York is about as awesome as they come. They Live I never got that into, which is weird because it seems like it would be right up my alley. I should watch it again now that I’m an adult (I probably saw it late high school?) because I’d probably have WAY more appreciation for it now that I’ve seen so much other goofy crap.

    Liz, yep, Rowdy Roddy Piper! And Keith David! Totally rad that you knew that, btw. Please, lame? On THIS blog?

  6. Trip Says:

    Meg, let me assure you – it doesn’t get much more in your wheelhouse than They Live.

    I came here to kick ass and chew bubblegum. And I’m all out of gum.

  7. Liz Says:

    Meg – this is why I love this blog: who else would think it was “rad” that I remembered that (and I didn’t even have to check IMDb!)?

    Trip – I found your quote, and it is, indeed, from “They Live” (which is SO a “Meg movie,” I can hardly believe it).

    Alisa – unfortunately, I couldn’t find your quote about “My name is Guy” – but it sounds like something Tony Shalhoub, or someone, might say on “GQ.”

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