Scream Factory releases one of Carpenter’s earliest films “Someone’s Watching Me”, and it’s a must see psychological thriller for fans of the filmmaker.
Director: John Carpenter
Producers: Anna Cottle and Richard Kobritz
Special Effects: Josee Nachbaur and Karl Silvera
Cast: Lauren Hutton, David Birney, Adrienne Barbeau, Charles Cyphers, Grainger Hines, Len Lesser, John Mahon, James Murtaugh, J. Jay Saunders, Michael Laurence, George Skaff, Robert Phalen, Robert Snively, Jean Le Bouvier, James McAlpine, Edgar Justice and John J. Fox
Released By: Shout!/Scream Factory
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Los Angeles newcomer Leigh Michaels moves into a chic high-rise apartment building. She loves the view. So does the Peeping Tom who lives somewhere in the adjacent tower.
John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing) writes and directs this thriller where the breath-catching suspense starts at the moment Leigh (Lauren Hutton, American Gigolo) is framed in the lens of a telescope.
For Leigh, it’s the beginning of terrors that escalate from anonymous calls and gifts to lights that mysteriously flicker to prove that someone watches every moment of her life. Leigh fights back, matching her tormentor’s obsession with her own relentless drive to uncover his identity. The prey is now predator – and that escalates the stalker’s game to a deadly new level. Someone is watching.
The third film in John Carpenter’s resume of feature films (following DARK STAR (1974) and ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (1976)), this made for TV film foreshadows what was to come in his fantastic career. As Someone’s Watching Me was a made for TV film, we do not get the same visceral impact as some of his later films, but we do get glimpses of the technical prowess that was to follow in every film he made after this one.
While much more of a psychological thriller than a true horror film, Carpenter manages to convey a sense of dread and isolation. as a young woman is terrorized in her own high rise apartment by someone that manages to see her every move without ever being in the same room. Add to the fact that the voyeur/stalker sends her gifts at (im)perfect times when no one can catch them, and it makes the film that much more intense.
Fans that are looking for nudity and gory violence that have become cannon in many of Carpenter’s later work will find Someone’s Watching Me a bit disappointing, but if you are willing to take a look at how a master of the genre built himself into such a legendary status, then this film will pay off for you in spades.
The Deep Dive
*Warning: Plot Spoilers*
As the film opens, we see a room with a tape recorder and a telescope in it. A mysterious figure places a phone call and watches a woman through the telescope, basically taunting the listener to suicide. Leigh Michaels (played by Lauren Hutton) moves to LA and rents the same apartment where the previous tenant committed suicide.
She gets a job directing live television at a TV station and meets Sophie (Adrienne Barbeau). She later meets Paul Winkless (David Birney), and you can sense a budding relationship. Soon after, Leigh begins receiving mysterious phone calls stating that she has won a vacation, but it never comes — and the calls begin to take more of a sinister turn.
She also starts getting anonymous gifts like a telescope and a bathing suit in the mail from the company promising the vacation. She shares the letters and gifts with Paul, who seems more than a little concerned about them. Paul does some research and finds that the company does not exist.
Leigh calls the police as the phone calls continue to get stranger, but they tell her that there is nothing they can do about it. The caller continues to taunt her, even saying that he would meet her in her parking garage, but when she goes out there, no one is there. Sophie comes by. While looking through the telescope, she figures out that whoever is watching Leigh is in the complex across the street and lives in one of the higher apartments.
Paul is there as well and has set up an appointment with a police detective. Right before they leave, a letter finally arrives in which her tormentor expresses his intention to kill her. She takes it to the police, but they’re unable to do anything as there has been no physical attack or assault. Terrified, Leigh nevertheless decides to find the culprit herself.
After a late night call, Sophie, Paul and Leigh see a man watching her apartment through a telescope of his own. The police are called and the man is arrested, with all evidence seemingly pointing to him as her tormentor.
Feeling somewhat relieved, Leigh attempts to go back to a normal routine. She then begins to receive letters again but has not received any more calls. She is assured by the police that they got the right man and that there is nothing to worry about. Leigh still thinks that someone is stalking her and has Sophie over again. They think they may have pinpointed another apartment that the culprit may be in.
Leigh enters but finds no one at home. Through the telescope there, she sees Sophie get attacked in her apartment, but when she gets back there are no signs that anything happened. The police do not believe her story. Leigh continues to have strange occurrences in her apartment, and the phone calls start again.
She finds a listening device in her room and takes it to Paul. They begin to investigate who has access to the building and as things get closer to a resolution, there is an explosive confrontation! Does Leigh survive and capture her stalker, or will she just become his next victim? You are going to have to watch Someone’s Watching Me to see.
*End of Plot Spoilers*
The Digital Details
NEW 2K Scan Of The Original Film Elements – In Both 1.85:1 And 1.33:1 Aspect Ratios
NEW Audio Commentary With Author Amanda Reyes (Are You In The House Alone?: A TV Movie Compendium 1964-1999)
NEW Adrienne Barbeau: Looking Back At Someone’s Watching Me (Run time of 10 minutes, 32 seconds): Fantastic interview with Actress Adrienne Barbeau about how she got her role in the film, where the concept of the story came from, her pride in playing a gay woman in a TV movie in 1978 and how all of it led to her working in his later film and marrying Carpenter. Very concise and to the point, extremely informative despite the 10 minute running time.
NEW Carpenter’s Enforcer – An Interview With Charles Cyphers On His Career In John Carpenter’s Films (Run time of 9 minutes, 43 seconds): Actor Charles Cyphers recounts how he first worked with John Carpenter, how Carpenter has always had an eye for picking great actors and actresses for his films, how he went on to work in more of Carpenter’s later films and more…
NEW Horror’s Hallowed Grounds – A Look At The Film’s Locations Today (Run time of 7 minutes, 12 seconds): Sean Clark returns with another episode of his series where we get to see several of the key locations used for the filming of SOMEONE’S WATCHING ME! Very interesting to notice how many of the locations look pretty much the same. It is a shame that they could not get more access to a couple of locations, but a nice look at where the film was made…
John Carpenter: Director Rising (Run time of 6 minutes, 14 seconds): A short but informative interview with John Carpenter about the real life events that are depicted in the film, how he got the job, the actors, actresses and crew he hired for the project and how busy 1977-78 was for him as a director.
- Discs: 1
- Format: NTSC
- Color: Color
- Rating: NR
- Aspect Ratio: 1080p High Definition Widescreen (1.85:1) and Side Matted (1.33.1)
- Language: English
This time out, Shout!/Scream Factory brings us a lost piece of history in John Carpenter’s impressive film resume!
Someone’s Watching Me looks sharp with the new transfer, and the sound is quite crisp when run through a good home theater system. There is a nice mix of special features on this disc, which may come as a bit of surprise to some. In particular, I found the three interview segments with Barbeau, Cyphers and Carpenter to be highly informative for a film that many may not have even known existed in Carpenter’s cannon.
The addition of the Horror’s Hallowed Grounds segment was a nice addition, as well as the segments of LA and Santa Monica in the past and present. While many may question why Scream Factory went this far with an obscure title that few were aware of, I applaud the fact they have given us a release that was not only a surprise but a lesson in history — showing us that even the masters of the genre have to get their start somewhere.
This is a great pick up for fans of Carpenter and his work, collection completists and those that just love obscure and rare films. Worth a viewing at worst and inclusion at its best, Scream Factory delivers once again!
Movie Rating: 3 out of 5
Blu-Ray Rating: 8 out of 10