Run Time: 82 minutes
With House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler, and 13 Ghosts, William Castle made a name for himself in the horror and thriller genre. His name alone attached to I Saw What You Did was enough for me to pick up Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray release of the 1965 film. I expected to miss out on some sort of gimmick that wouldn’t apply to the Blu-ray release. After all, William Castle was nefarious for special glasses and electrified seats. If you have little inclination of what I am talking about, see Joe Dante’s Matinee with John Goodman playing a William Castle type role. What I didn’t expect from I Saw What You Did was how timeless the story was, and how this low budget Alfred Hitchcock-like film managed to entertain.
I Saw What You Did is the tale of three girls Libby (Andi Garrett), Kit (Sara Lane), and Tess (Sharyl Locke) who play a sleepover game by prank calling random people in the phone book and saying “I saw what you did. I know who you are”. It is all in fun, but it won’t make take much to see where this plot is going. Obviously the girls make the wrong call to the right number and get in over their heads. What surprised me was how the story kept spinning in different directions.
With that being said, Castle does take a long time to establish these characters. It is easy to see how two teenage girls and a little sister have manipulated the adults involved enough to ensure that they are completely on their own. So when they call Steve Marak (John Ireland) just minutes after he killed his wife, you know that they are in serious danger. What is surprising in this story is how these young teenagers elevate their peril by going to Steve’s house, all to find out how good looking he is. This is where Joan Crawford’s Amy Nelson comes into play.
Amy is not the Steve’s murdered wife, but his obsessed debutante neighbor. She goes after him for reasons that are not fully revealed, but we are left with the assumption that Steve really rocked her world one night. Amy’s discovery of the girls gives her the means of supplying Steve with their home address. Looking back, these girls seemed perfectly safe, but once out in the world, the danger comes crashing down on them as Steve can now find out exactly how much they know about the murder he committed.
The film will seem dated with house phones and telephone books, but could easily be translated into a more modern setting with Facebook and cell phones. I mentioned earlier that this felt like a low budget Hitchcock film. Outside of Crawford, the majority of the cast is made up of almost recognizable faces, but you will still need IMDB to remember exactly where you know them from. The film also looks as if it was shot completely on a TV set. Nothing looks real and the music even supplies a feeling that you are watching a dark episode of The Brady Brunch. It probably doesn’t help that the composer (Van Alexander) worked on the The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.
I recommend this film for those looking for something different and full of surprises. Think of this as “the madman vs the bobby-soxers” and you will be pleasantly surprised. I was amazed how much peril these girls found themselves in, especially in a world with no caller ID, star 69, or Facebook. Yet, the story is one that all people should pay attention to. The horrors of the world are very real and just on the other side of the line (phone or internet). It is up to us to decide whether or not to cross it.
New 2016 High-Definition Transfer
“Special World Premiere Announcement” featuring William Castle
Original Theatrical Trailer