Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Somebody Watched Somebody's Watching Me! ME!!

Perusing Netflix, I was delighted to find that one of Carpenter's late-70s TV movies "Somebody's Watching Me!" was finally available, and I dialed that shit up post haste.

The cool Saul Bass style title sequence, and the callback payoff at the climax

1978 was a real turning point for Carpenter, and this movie came right smack dab in the center of the milieu. He hadn't yet directed Halloween, and Somebody has a TON of stylistic flourishes that precede it slightly. In the same year he'd direct another film for television, Elvis, the bio-pic that began his long and fruitful collaboration with Kurt Russell. I'm not sure if that came before or after Halloween...By the (low) standards of television movies, this is a work of genius. By the standard standards of thrillers, it's still a pretty good one. The hook is cheesy, the plot is by the numbers, and Carpenter never misses a beat. Commercial breaks would've actually IMPROVED the experience, like Steve Spielberg's TV debut Duel...which I had the PRIVILEGE of seeing for the first time in the format it was meant for: Joe Bob Briggs' Monstervision on TNT.

Somebody stars Lauren Hutton, a famously gap-toothed 70s model-turned-actress who, I swear to god, I only knew prior from the 1987 short film Gap-Toothed Women. Ironically, the gap isn't her one unattractive feature - that would be her manly lantern jaw. Co-starring is Carpenter's future wife and new member of his short-lived reparatory company, Adrienne Barbeau. She plays a lesbian, and it's treated about as undramatically as you can imagine, which fits my bill as progressive. Others would complain she doesn't have an on-screen girlfriend, and therefore Carpenter is a tool of the patriarchy, but fuck 'em, he was sensitive enough to let her light Lauren's cig.

Coming from an old school dude like Carpenter who still champions the coolness of smoking (his second-to-last Masters Of Horror was called Cigarette Burns, after all) there's no more sincere gesture of approval. Anyways, I'm making it seem like a bigger deal than it is. If anything, Adrienne's lesbianism is a plot device to emphasize Hutton's isolation in her new LA surroundings. Being a new resident to LA myself, I emphasized plenty.

Highly recommended to any Carpenter fan. Now, if they'd just release Elvis!!

And oh yeah, that shot of Hutton out the window? That's not an optical illusion, they ACTUALLY STUCK HER OUT THE WINDOW. Ho-lee-shit.

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