Monday, October 05, 2009


Libby, babysitting for her little sister, invites Kit over to her isolated house while her parents take an overnight trip. Bored after dinner, they start playing phone pranks, picking names at random out of the phone book, calling people and saying things like, "I saw what you did and I know who you are!" They happen upon a man (John Ireland) who in fact has just murdered his wife (in a scene that slavishly copies the shower scene in PSYCHO); of course, he thinks he’s dealing with an adult voyeur who’s out to blackmail him, and as one thing leads to another, Ireland winds up outside Libby's house in the middle of the night, ready to take care of the snoop.

This William Castle thriller isn't a very good movie but it could be argued that it is the real granddaddy of the slasher film. Of course, today's horror movie fans will laugh at this one; except for the shower murder, which is rather brutal, the violence is minimal and the gore non-existent. Though Ireland does a nice job as a figure of menace, it never feels like the girls are in real danger, even at the climax. The plot machinations that allow Ireland to discover his caller's identity are somewhat clever, and the film has the added though dubious attraction of Joan Crawford in what amounts to a cameo role as Ireland’s mistress who also meets a bad end. It all feels like an episode of The Brady Bunch, down to the inappropriately jaunty music and the fancy suburban house set--rather artificial but nicely shadowy. None of the three girls went on to have an acting career. This came out when I was 9, and I remember the ads vividly; I suppose if I had seen it then, it would have given me nightmares. [TCM]


Kate Gabrielle said...

I don't know why, but I always thought that Joan Crawford was the murderer that they called by mistake-- I've obviously never seen this yet-- but wouldn't that have been interesting!?

Campy as it sounds, I think I want to see it now :D

Michael said...

It almost certainly would have been a better movie if Joan had been the killer!