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Horror Movie A Day: Quint on I SAW WHAT YOU DID (1965)
Don’t use the phone for fun and games anymore!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [The regular A Movie A Day list has been frozen in order for me to do an all-horror line-up for October. I’ve pulled many horror titles from my regular “to see” stack and have ordered many more horror and thriller titles to make sure we have some good stuff. Like the regular AMAD column all the movies I’m covering are films I have never seen, but unlike the regular AMAD column I will not connect each film to the one before it. Instead I will pull a title at random every day and watch whatever the movie Gods determine for me.] I was going to start this by proclaiming I SAW WHAT YOU DID the first William Castle movie of the AMAD column, but that wouldn’t be the complete truth. Legend has it Mr. Castle was a ghostwriter on the great Lawrence Tierney flick DILLINGER, which was recently covered. So, damn. There goes my proclamation. But I can say that this is the first traditional William Castle picture on the list. The plot to this one is simple. What happens if you prank call the wrong guy?

In this case you have two teenage girls left to their own devices for a night, so they spend the majority of their time prank calling people picked at random out of the phone book. And these are pretty shitty pranks, too. Like, if a woman answers on a man’s number, the main girl, Libby (played by Andi Garrett), will put on a sultry voice and ask if Mr. Whatever is in, saying she’s been waiting for an hour, etc, etc. That bitch probably broke up some marriages! That’s not cool! And I love prank calls. Anybody my age grew up with the Jerky Boys and discovered those awesome Arnold Schwarzenegger prank call soundbytes in my early days on the net. But damn, that’s cold, lady. They get tired of breaking up marriages and decide to simply start saying “I saw what you did and I know who you are.” Unfortunately, they decide to do that on a dude who just killed his wife (almost as a direct result of their first phone call, actually where they tried to make her jealous as she was packing to leave) and that kick-starts the suspense.

Now Andi Garrett and Sarah Lane (who plays her best friend) are not good actresses. In fact their performances and the writing of their characters feels exactly like ‘60s sitcom TV. LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, maybe. There’s no nuance at all, they just say their lines with a smile, even when scared, apparently. What makes the movie work is John Ireland as Mr. Steve Marak, the murderer. We’ve covered Ireland once before in RED RIVER alongside John Wayne and we have a couple more of his westerns on the books for later in the column. He’s a great screen personality and he really carries this movie. He gives Marak a demented desperation. You can feel his life unraveling just in watching him move around a room. When he kills his wife it’s a shock. He’s taking a shower when she comes in to the bathroom (to tell him he has a call… thanks, bored teenage girls) and sees the room torn apart, a knife stuck into a chunk of wood pinning (I assume) one of her dresses to it. She becomes… upset. And he goes in for the kill, which ends up in the still running shower itself.

I’m sure I’m not the first one to bring up the parallels to the PSYCHO shower scene here, but it’s definitely an influence…except in reverse. Here you have the person in the shower stabbing the one on the outside. There are mirrored shots, too, like the drain as blood swirls down it, a close-up on the showerhead, etc. It’s a bit more violent than I was expecting, especially the end of it when Ireland sends his wife crashing through the glass shower door. I don’t know why that in particular got to me, but it was extremely violent, especially for this era. Joan Crawford, in a surprisingly small role, is Ireland’s neighbor, and older woman who is in love with him. She ends up finding out about the murder and blackmails him into marrying her. Sorry to say, lady, but that’s probably not the most thought-out idea in the world.

But she’s not the only one doing stupid shit in the movie. In the glory days before caller ID there would be no horror movie if they didn’t decide to steal mommy’s car and drive by the dude’s house because they think he sounds sexy and wants to sneak a look at him. Desperate to tie up any loose ends, Ireland is on the hunt for the voice on the phone that apparently saw and knows. This all leads to a foggy night cat and mouse game that does work and is actually pretty involving, especially when Libby’s little sister (10 year old Sharyl Locke) is in jeopardy.

Apart from the surface-level writing and shallow character work on the lead girls, composer Van Alexander deserves a kick in the dick for his score, which sounds like a comedy adventure score, not a horror score. I’m not kidding. I once saw a show on TV trying to teach the audience how integral a movie score is in setting mood, especially in a horror film. They played the scene from early on in HALLOWEEN when mental patient Michael Myers steals the car with Carpenter’s score, then showed it again with, like, The Benny Hill music. This whole movie is the Benny Hill music. It’s actually pretty catchy music, just completely wrong for the movie. I know it sounds like I hated the movie, and that’s not true. It’s a quick running film and even though I didn’t like the two lead teenagers, they were cute enough to fill in the gaps between the interesting, adult characters. John Ireland is the MVP of the movie, making it worth a watch just for his performance. He keeps the film moving, keeps us interested and sells the threat so well that I found myself caring for the girls in the last act even though the script really didn’t give me any reason to. Final Thoughts: It’s a flawed movie, but a fun slice of ‘60s suspense. Next to Hitchcock it’s strictly kiddy time, but Crawford and Ireland turn in interesting, riveting performances that make it all worthwhile. Now, this title is out of print, so it’s quite expensive. If you can find it for cheap or if it airs on TCM over the next few weeks, definitely go for it, but don’t spend $80 on it.

Here are the titles in the drawing pool for the rest of October: Wednesday, October 1st – Friday, October 31st: H-MAD! Horror Movie A Day! Check out the list here! I’m getting sleepy and am going to sleep as soon as this is posted, but first, to put a topper on the crank call coverage, here's my one of my favorites.

Give me a finger… figure… top man… Adorable! You can say anything in an Irish accent and it’s cute, even if you’re asking to kill your teachers. Brilliant… Anyway, it's time to pull tomorrow's movie! Next up is:

Okay, wow. Interesting mash-up. It is funny that the movie Gods gave me another “I” movie. Maybe we’ll get a threefer and I’ll pull I, MADMAN for the next title after I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. I’d almost hate to do that because no one would believe it’s chance, but it’s true. I’m literally pulling titles out of a bag. See you folks tomorrow for some crazy ‘70s rapesploitation! -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
September 27th: Dillinger
September 28th: Battle of the Bulge
September 29th: Daisy Kenyon
September 30th: Laura
October 1st: The Dunwich Horror
October 2nd: Experiment In Terror
October 3rd: The Devil’s Rain
October 4th: Race With The Devil
October 5th: Salo, Or The 120 Days of Sodom
October 6th: Bad Dreams
October 7th: The House Where Evil Dwells
October 8th: Memories of Murder
October 9th: The Hunger

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