24 July 2007

Rare Carpenter Film Finally On DVD

Before he directed the horror classic "Halloween", John Carpenter wrote and directed a little-seen TV movie for NBC with the hysterical title "Someone's Watching Me!" (yes, the exclamation mark is part of the title). A then-modern day riff on "Rear Window" that also anticipated Ira Levin's "Sliver", the thriller (written and shot as "High Rise") starred Lauren Hutton as a tv director stalked by a psychotic admirer. Lauren's coworker, a rare openly gay character in the late 70s, was played by Adrienne Barbeau, whom Carpenter married (they did two more films together before divorcing in the mid-80s). Carpenter-regular Charles Cyphers ("Assault On Precinct 13", "Halloween", "The Fog") also had a role.

For a TV movie with all of the limitations of commercial breaks and prime-time censorship, "SWM"showcased Carpenter's suspense skills in top form, even without the benefit of the widescreen frame and his own distinctive musical score.

I spent years tracking this thing down on too many convention tables, ultimately scoring a dub thanks to a fellow Carpenter fan on a Compuserve movie forum. To my delight, it held up really well, even if there are few unintentional laughs, chiefly the presence of Len Lesser, aka "Seinfeld"s Uncle Leo, in a key role.

Well, latecomers to the Carpenter camp have it easy: DVD Drive-In has announced that on September 25, "Someone's Watching Me!" will receive its first official home video release in any medium (but in this case, thankfully, the standard DVD format) as part of its "Twisted Terror Collection". No word yet on whether or not the director will contribute a commentary track (he usually does...).

Milton Subotsky's Amicus anthology "From Beyond The Grave", Oliver Stone's "The Hand" (his second feature film, starring Michael Caine, forever ruined by the SCTV sketch "My Bloody Hand"), Wes Craven's "Deadly Friend" with Kirsty Swanson (one of his worst films, IMHO), Manny Coto's "Dr. Giggles" starring Larry Drake, and Sean S. Cunningham's underrated psycho thriller "Eyes Of A Stranger", starring the unlikely combination of "The Love Boat"s Lauren Tewes and Rip Torn, round out the series. You can buy 'em individually or as a boxed set (I'll opt for buying them one at a time--"Deadly Friend" and "Dr. Giggles" aren't worth revisiting, let alone owning).

I was originally commissioned to review "Someone's Watching Me!" for Troma-regular Trent Haaga's "Tapehead" cult movie site some time back. You can read my comments here when I reposed the piece as part of this year's John Carpenter Blog-A-Thon...