Category Archives: william castle
I Saw What You Did ~ Back in the old days, before video rentals, before OnDemand, even before cable television, there was only one way to see a particular film – you waited and waited for it to finally show up on standard six channel television. When it was a movie you’d never seen and only heard about, it became sort of an event, and a special memory. I saw The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon this way, and also Mothra and the Matt Helm films. There was a certain mystique to the movies you had to watch and wait for each week by scouring the TV Guide.
The original 1965 (it was later a terrible telemovie in the late 1980s that is best forgotten) version of I Saw What You Did was one of those movies, and in recent times it has been made even rarer by its on-again-off-again video and DVD releasing. In an age where almost everything is available, this is indeed a rare film. It’s a lucky thing that occasionally TCM gives it a run, usually when honoring its star Joan Crawford, or its genius director William Castle.
Its full title gives a bit of a hint what it is really about. Two teenage girls on a sleepover amuse themselves by making random prank phone calls and saying to the answerer, “I Saw What You Did! And I Know Who You Are!” You can imagine the bedlam that ensues when they call the man who has just murdered his wife. There’s the set-up and trademark William Castle hilarity and horror follow. You can understand how the plot of this one can become whispered legend among those watching the TV Guide every week.
In a role originally meant to be only a cameo (although she got top billing and pay) and originally offered to Grayson Hall, later to be known as Dr. Julia Hoffman on “Dark Shadows,” Joan Crawford eats up the screen like the film goddess she was in every scene. Her appearance, dressed for flash in the middle of the night, is kinda odd, but then again she’s Joan Crawford after all. She proves without a doubt she could easily be the kooky neighbor in a sitcom from any age, and do it with pizzazz.
The two girls, and one’s little sister, are terrible, but their kids, so give them a break. John Ireland as the killer is stone-faced and fierce, his looks alone inspiring scares. Some of the shocks and the violence are a bit over the top for the time, and surprising when you think about it in hindsight. It’s not Friday the 13th, but it’s a bit much for 1965. The initial killing is an ironic turn on the shower scene from Psycho and actually quite well done.
This is, despite what others may tell you, William Castle at his best. I love this flick, and watch it whenever it presents itself. Must see for horror fans, movie fans, and camp fans – funny, scary, quirky, what more could you want? So keep a lookout, just like in the old days, for the next time I Saw What You Did airs, it’s worth it.
Starflight One ~ The synopsis for this 1983 gem reads, and I’m not joking, as follows: “By mistake the captain and passengers of the world’s first hypersonic airliner go past Australia, into space.” Also known as Starflight: The Plane That Couldn’t Land, it’s a disaster movie on a low budget telemovie scale starring the semi-warm cast of Lee Majors, Lauren Hutton, Ray Milland, Kirk Cameron, Robert Englund and Hal Linden. Just as bad as it sounds and would be fun if you make a drinking game out of it. This serious version of Airplane II is abysmal and yet sometimes unintentionally funny.
It’s Alive ~ This TV movie from 1968 is pretty cool, and riding on a smooth drive-in horror flick vibe, until you actually see the monster. Wow. This thing, a recycled prop costume from a previous film just as bad as this one, makes the monsters from the old “Doctor Who” TV series look professional. Hell, it makes Barney look like he walked out of Jurassic Park. This one’s okay excluding the monster. With the monster, it’s just terrible. An example of how one ‘special’ effect can ruin an entire flick.
Kitten with a Whip ~ This 1960s exploitation flick is indicative of the genre and one of the best with name stars. Sociopathic prison runaway Ann Margaret chills at aspiring senator John Forsythe’s home Desperate Hours style while the family is on vacation. This couldn’t have been better if William Castle or Roger Corman had directed it.
Yes Man ~ Jim Carrey plays a negative man who through a positive thinking guru forces himself to say yes to everything. Yeah, it’s kinda like Liar Liar only less funny. It’s not as bad as it could be as Zooey Deschanel saves all the scenes she’s in. As much as Zooey is a delight, Jim is equally a hyperactive and sullen brat. Not as bad as it could be, might be worth seeing if nothing else is on, and as long as you don’t pay for it.
Planet 51 ~ Other than the interesting twist of humans and aliens switching roles, which you can see in any of the previews, there’s really no surprises here. It’s fun animation for kids featuring pantless sea monkeys with Alien dogs in a retro 1950s world, along with The Rock being tiredly ironic for ninety minutes. The shine will wear off for adults pretty quickly.
Pineapple Express ~ You know those great action thrillers where some innocent bystanders witness a murder and then spend the rest of the flick being chased by the bad guys? Yeah, now imagine everyone in said flick is a stoner and/or a doper. Yep, you got it, that’s what Pineapple Express is. It’s funny, but it’s probably a lot funnier if you’re high.
Skidoo ~ Nope, it’s not a water or snow vehicle. This forgotten Otto Preminger flick from 1968 is a cross between a mob comedy and a generation gap morality play. Great performances by notably Mickey Rooney and also by Groucho Marx as a germaphobic mob boss named “God.” Carol Channing is fun as an old bimbo and you have to see to believe Jackie Gleason on acid. Speaking of drugs, rumor has it Grouncho first tried marijuana on the set of this film. Also look for cameos by Otto’s (Mr. Freeze) fellow “Batman” baddies Ceasar (Joker) Romero, Burgess (Penguin) Meredith and Frank (Riddler) Gorshin.
Voice of the Whistler ~ I was surprised by this B-flick based on the old radio program “The Whistler” as it was directed by William Castle. You can see the beginnings of the man’s skills and gimmicks even here. Nice surprise.
Stay Alive ~ This was another surprise as I expected yet another mindless serial killer flick in the mode of Final Destination or Jeepers Creepers. This flick by writer/director William Brent Bell has a group of teenagers playing a game that kills you in real life when you are yoinked in the game. Much cooler than it sounds. Look for “Malcolm in the Middle” all grown up and nerdy.
Incident at Loch Ness ~ This one is the evil opposite of the above, nowhere near as cool as it sounds. It’s a mockumentary following director Werner Herzog as he tries to make a movie about the Loch Ness monster. Reality TV at its worst.