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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

I Saw What You Did  (1965)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
3 Stars
(Release Date: May 17, 2016) – The playfulness of youth collides with the lurking dangers of the outside world in vintage B-movie horror king William Castle's (1959's "House on Haunted Hill," 1960's "13 Ghosts") "I Saw What You Did." Based on the novel "Out of the Dark" by Ursula Curtiss (adapted for the screen by William P. McGivern), the film opens like a happy-go-lucky teen comedy (think "Bye Bye Birdie" meets "The Parent Trap") and then edges toward the macabre darkness of Castle's usual oeuvre. When Libby Mannering (Andi Garrett) invites school friend Kit (Sarah Lane) over to her idyllic country house for dinner while she babysits little sister Tess (Sharyl Locke), their thought-harmless game of prank calling random people eventually gets them into hot water. "I saw what you did, and I know who you are," Libby jokingly tells the latest recipient of her game, Steve Marak (John Ireland). Unlucky for her, Steve has just murdered his wife and is now determined to track down and silence whoever is on the other end of the line.

Released theatrically in 1965, "I Saw What You Did" can be viewed in the twenty-first century as a quaint, even naïve, suspenser. Despite being a product of its time (*69 definitely did not exist 50-plus years ago) and in spite of a just-plain-goofy final scene, the film is both charming and tense. If the minimalist story is somewhat padded even at 82 minutes, director William Castle knows how to tighten the screws as Libby's predicament heightens. Andi Garrett and Sarah Lane are an appealing team as friends Libby and Kit, while Joan Crawford (who receives top billing) is very funny as Steve's overbearing neighbor Amy Nelson, who doesn't waste a second before pouncing on him and planning their future after his wife is out of the picture. The atmospheric black-and-white photography from Joseph Biroc (who, coincidentally, shot 1963's aforementioned "Bye Bye Birdie") is a character unto itself, capturing Libby's attractive secluded home and property with threatening claustrophobia. Clever, engrossing and, yes, a little bit creepy, "I Saw What You Did" plays like an early urban legend in the making.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

Sporting an all-new HD transfer, "I Saw What You Did" has a pleasing filmic look. The 1080p image is imperfect—there are age-related speckles throughout (though it clears up significantly as it goes) and a couple cigarette-burn flashes—but the increase in finely resolved grain and clarity is notable. Contrast is also solid within its black-and-white photography; the foggy exterior scenes look especially impressive and moody. The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio gets the job done, but no one should be expecting a show-stopper. The film was made five decades ago and, as such, this analog track's capabilities are limited. Nevertheless, dialogue is clean and intelligible, while music and sound effects are nicely balanced in the mix.

Blu-ray Features
  • Photo Gallery (3:41, HD)
  • Theatrical Trailers (2:38, HD)
Bottom Line
"I Saw What You Did" is one of William Castle's classier pictures, a beautifully shot, decidedly restrained thriller with a still-relevant cautionary message. Scream Factory's Blu-ray release sports an attractive high-def picture that runs circles around its past VHS and DVD incarnations. For younger tween-aged audiences who haven't yet been exposed to many horror movies, this could be a fitting entry point, as it is spooky and tense but not overly violent or gory. For fans, picking it up is a no-brainer. "I Saw What You Did" dials up a hearty recommendation on Blu-ray.

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© 2016 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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