William Castle was a cinema genius who understood not merely how to make a movie, but how to see it. He rose to the director’s chair around the same time that TV took hold of America. People were abandoning cinema to watch their stories on the small screens. Castle understood that it just wasn’t good enough to make a film, he had to give an experience that made seeing the movie in a theater part of the experience He devised ways to make the film interact with the crowd. He invented the Tingler. He made a film where the audience decided the ending. He created a coward’s corner where scared viewers could shield their eyes. You weren’t going to get to experience Percepto, Emergo, Illusion-O! while staring at a tiny boob tube with grandma. What was the gimmick Castle used to not only get butts in the seat and he keep them there during screenings of I Saw What You Did? He had a plan to keep people from jumping up during the shocking moments involving Joan Crawford. He was going to install seatbelts.
Kit (Sara Lane) gets her father to let her have a sleepover with her school friend Libby (Andi Garrett) which is a major treat. Libby lives way out in the country and the girls get an extra treat when Libby’s parents have to go out for the night. It’s time for teenage girl party as depicted in 1965. They duo must keep an eye on Libby’s younger sister Tess (Sharyl Locke). Naturally the kids get into a little bit of trouble when they begin to prank phone call random people from the phone book. At first when a woman answers the phone, they pretend to be a mysterious woman looking for the husband. The teen girls break out their most seductive voices to rattle ladies who get angry at being two timed by their men. This includes Joan Crawford (Rain) who fears her boyfriend (John Ireland) isn’t being honest with her. Her has to calm her down to let her know he will be leaving his wife for her. Eventually Kit and Libby switch up the game. They tell the unsuspecting victim, “I saw what you did, and I know who you are.” This is all fun until they call John Ireland. He’s rather spooked by the call since he’d been busy killing his wife and dumping her body in the woods. He fears that the girls had seen his crime and are going to fink him out to the law. The girls get curious as to knowing the man they’re prank calling. However their attempt to spy leads him to discovering their identity. What will happen to these girls in their remote house with no protective parents around?
When it came time to hype the film, director William Castle latched onto a great big word to enhance. The trailer and poster declared, “William Castle warns you: This is a motion picture about UXORICIDE!” What is Uxoricide and is there a balm for its outbreak? Turns out it’s the murdering of a spouse which is part of the film. Castle is expanding your vocabulary. The bigger gimmick for the film was Castle’s promise that in order to keep you from jumping out of your seat if it got too scary, theaters were equipping some seats with seat belts. I Saw What You Did is a fine teen fright fest which has unsupervised kids up to mischief. Joan Crawford is the lynchpin of the production as the mistress who thinks John Ireland is a catch. The young girls are fun to watch as their game of crank calls goes out of control. I Saw What You Did is much better film than The Jerky Boys: The Movie. The only regret is that I didn’t have a seatbelt on my beanbag when I was watching it.
The video is 1.85:1 full frame. The black and white 1080p transfer looks great. There’s a bit of futz on the opening credits. This is because optical houses were notorious for being dusty places. Once the movie starts, everything is show sharp. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio mono. You’ll hear that phone ring and Joan Crawford shriek. The movie is subtitled.
Photo Gallery (3:41) shows Joan Crawford smiling with the girls. They must have used wooden hangers on the set. The promotional material is also part of the montage.
Theatrical Trailers (2:38) has one that focuses on how you could be the next victim of prank calls if your name is in the phonebook. This could happen to Navin Johnson. A second trailer is introduced by William Castle. He invites us to the theater’s world premiere with major stars and William Castle. He demonstrates the seatbelts that will keep you from being shocked out of your seats.
Scream Factory presents I Saw What You Did. Directed by: William Castle. Screenplay by: William P. McGivern. Starring: Joan Crawford, John Ireland, Sara Lane & Andi Garrett. Running Time: 82 minutes. Rated: Unrated. Released: May 17, 2016.
Tags: I Saw What You Did, Joan Crawford, Scream Factory, william castle