Someone's Watching Me! Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Written and directed by John Carpenter
1978, 97 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on August 7th, 2018
Lauren Hutton as Leigh Michaels
David Birney as Paul Winkless
Adrienne Barbeau as Sophie
Charles Cyphers as Gary Hunt
Grainger Hines as Steve
James Murtaugh as Leone
John Mahon as Frimsin
George Skaff as Herbert Styles
Leigh Michaels has recently relocated from New York to Los Angeles and landed a job at a local television station directing live programming. Leigh has a great high rise apartment with a fantastic view. She is becoming fast friends with her co-worker Sophie and has just met a terrific guy, a philosophy professor named Paul Winkless. Things are looking pretty good until she starts receiving anonymous phone calls and presents at home. They start off innocently enough, but begin to take on a creepier vibe as they become more personal. Leigh is the object of affection for a peeping Tom likely somewhere in the adjacent apartment building, but there are hundreds of units and the guy could be anywhere. Leigh is beginning to feel threatened, but the police are unable to do anything until he actually breaks a law. She takes matters into her own hands, hanging drapes and trying not to be alone in her apartment any more than necessary, but the voyeur continues to close the distance between them. What does he want and what will he do to get it?
Writer/director John Carpenter (They Live) found early success with his features Dark Star (1974) and Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) before moving on to the high concept TV Movie-of-the-Week Someone’s Watching Me! (1978). The plot is sleek and straightforward with little fat allowing for rich character development and terrific sequences of suspense. Carpenter pays tribute to the great Sir Alfred Hitchcock (Rear Window) with this taut thriller that plays an extended game of cat-and-mouse with our targeted heroine and an unseen stranger. Carpenter makes great use of misdirection as he peppers the tale with red herrings as we try to learn the stalker’s identity. In the end, “Who” is the least important question as we focus more on “How” and “Where” the tension will break.
Actress Lauren Hutton (Once Bitten) stars in this psychological thriller as Leigh Michaels, a modern, liberated woman working in the man’s world of television. She is young and talented, has a quirky sense of humor and is beholden to no one. She resolves to stand her ground and takes it on herself to track down her technologically savvy peeping Tom. Hutton is riveting in the role and appears in almost every scene. She is both a fiercely resilient individual and a vulnerable victim in this tale of urban isolation.
The supporting cast members all give solid performances, particularly Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog) as Sophie. She is every part Leigh’s equal in strength and candor. It is worth mentioning that Sophie is a lesbian in that this was a rare inclusion in 1970s television. Her sexuality is mentioned but never becomes a point of focus, she just simply is gay. The character is well rounded and fills a necessary role for the story being told without being used as a distraction. David Birney (Night of the Fox) does a fine job as the love interest Paul, a decent guy in a sea of misogynists. He sees Leigh as a woman, not a threat or an object as so many other men in the film do. Charles Cyphers (Halloween II) plays Detective Gary Hunt, the cop who wants to help, but whose hands are tied by the system. His authoritative demeanor led Cyphers to frequently play cops in films and he is really good here.
Someone’s Watching Me! debuted a month after Halloween hit theaters and further established Carpenter as a rising talent in Hollywood. The director shows early signs of his signature elements of filmmaking and lays the groundwork for many future projects. You can see his confidence as a director growing from one picture to the next as this smartly paced thriller draws maximum results from a small cast and high concept story.
Video and Audio:
Both the 1.78:1 aspect ratio and 1.33:1 TV format viewing options are offered here, the former being the native shooting ratio and the latter representing the original broadcast presentation. I prefer the widescreen format, but both look terrific. With a new 2K scan of the interpositive elements, colors spring to life and there is plenty of fine detail in small objects, hair and wardrobe.
A DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio track preserves the original mix and sounds just fine. Dialogue levels are perfectly balanced with music cues and remain clear and free from any hiss or distortion.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
This disc features a wide variety of goodies that are more extensive than what I would expect from a film of this small size. Starting things off is an audio commentary with fan and author Amanda Reyes (Are You in the House Alone? A TV Movie Compendium 1964 – 1999), who is well-versed in the TV movie subgenre. She has a lot of good information about the film and shares it in a fairly steady flow.
The always-welcome Adrienne Barbeau reflects on the role of Sophie and shares some information on working with Carpenter and his style of directing in this all-new interview (11 minutes).
Charles Cyphers looks back at his career in Carpenter’s Enforcer (10 minutes). He is immediately likeable and his stories are really entertaining.
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds (7 minutes) finds host Sean Clark revisiting the film’s shooting locations. There are not many destinations, but Clark manages to score some good material for this segment.
An archival interview titled John Carpenter: Director Rising (6 minutes) shines a light on the project and its creator. The segment is highly informative, but includes spoiler-filled clips from the movie.
Two TV spots (1 minute) promote the upcoming television event.
A photo gallery plays as a silent slideshow and features promotional stills, lobby cards and international VHS cover artwork. Images appear in both color and black and white.