Wednesday, April 6, 2011

#243. He Knows You're Alone (1980)

Directed By: Armand Mastroianni

Starring: Don Scardino, Caitlin O'Heaney, Elizabeth Kemp, Lewis Arlt

Tag line: Every girl is frightened the night before her wedding, but this time... there's good reason!

Trivia:  This marked the first screen appearance of Tom Hanks, who played Elliot in the film.

He Knows You're Alone is a horror film that opens with two young women in a movie theater, watching, of all things, a horror film (a somewhat tired formula nowadays, but undoubtedly fresh in 1980). One of the girls (Robin Tilghman) has had enough of being scared, and makes a trip to the restroom to settle down. Once there, however, she cannot shake the feeling that someone's watching her. She quickly returns to the theater, and tries to convince her friend to leave with her, but to no avail. As the frightened girl is in her seat, we see a man take the one directly behind her. We then get a close-up view of this man's eyes, which have a crazed look about them. He stabs the girl in the back (plunging the knife right through her seat), and then quietly leaves the theater. From this opening, it's obvious He Knows You're Alone is going to be a different kind of slasher film. In many of these movies, the killer, whether his identity is known or not, remains hidden from view (sometimes behind a mask, other times by staying just off-camera).  He Knows You're Alone lets us to look into the eyes of its monster in the very first scene. 

Within the next five minutes or so, and thanks in large part to a well-placed flashback, we even learn the killer's name (Ray Carlton), and his modus operandi (he murders young ladies who are about to be married). It all stems back to the time he was jilted by the woman he loved, who left him to marry another man. This former love became Carlton's first victim, and it just so happens the 'other man' she was marrying was a cop named Len Gamble (Lewis Arlt). This cop, now a Detective, has spent the last three years tracking his fiance's killer. When he's told the murdered girl in the movie theater was herself about to be married, Det. Gamble knows in his heart Ray Carlton has returned. As Gamble is piecing together clues, Carlton begins stalking his next victim, a pretty brunette named Amy (Caitlin O'Heaney) who's two weeks away from walking down the aisle. But early on in the process, Amy senses someone is watching her, and with her soon-to-be-husband away on a bachelor's weekend, she turns to her former flame, Marvin (Don Scardino), for protection. 

By revealing so much about the killer early on, He Knows You're Alone strips away much of the mystery, but that doesn't mean the film fails to generate any suspense. True, we know who the killer is, and why he's killing, but we don't know where he is at any given moment, and who will be his next victim. Unlike most serial killers, Ray Carlton isn't always particular about who he murders; in one scene, just as Amy has finished trying on her wedding dress, Carlton leaps out from behind a rack of clothes and repeatedly stabs her dressmaker, Ralph (Joseph Leon). Because anyone is a potential victim, He Knows You're Alone keeps us guessing to the end, even after giving away many of the answers up-front. 

There are parts of He Knows You're Alone that drag (it sometimes takes a while to get from one kill to the next), but when the film does get down to business, it's a real nail-biter. With suspense aplenty, He Knows You're Alone is a horror movie that delivers on the screams, and a thriller that proves thrilling enough to keep us on the edge of our seat.


Anonymous said...

i have scene (hahaha) this one doctor shock. it was very good, i just cued it up on netflix, i think it deserves a rewatch.

i don't know if you sensor but pod 10 was fucking awesome.

Dave Becker said...

Thanks for stopping by.

Yeah, I'll be going back to watch HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE again myself sometime. It was a good movie, and I liked how they handled the killer and his 'story'.

As for censoring, I usually don't take it any further than censoring myself (and I'll never censor anyone giving Planet Macabre a compliment!).

Thanks so much, and glad you enjoyed the episode.

Anonymous said...

EU here Sir thank you for providing more horror reviews for us crazed horror nuts, we even got our first extra podcast and it was a bute, very good.

If you take suggestions, the next extra one, if I am right will be #20, how about the Exorcist, one scary darn (I'll keep it PG even though I see the comment above) horror movie.


Dave Becker said...

@Stosfread: Thanks so much for stopping by, and for the kind words. It's my pleasure (and I'm glad you enjoyed the bonus episode).

As for your suggestion, I'll certainly pass it along. I agree that THE EXORCIST is a film worthy of an in-depth analysis (like we did for CHAINSAW). I thank you for the recommendation.

Thanks again for stopping by, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

Anonymous said...

This is a great title for a movie, it exudes such fear when you are all alone at home no matter if you are a man or a woman. I will be scoping the internet out on this one for the best price.

I am a new fan of Planet Macabre after searching for horror podcasts I came across you guys and was amazed at the quality and depth defying discussions and critiques. I have got through the first 4 episodes so far. The intro episode was really valuable, I now understand where each host comes from while rating horror movies.

Anonymous said...

Great review of "He knows your alone" Doctor, I really liked this film, heck I like all 80s horror movies on a whole. It is in my opinion when "horror" really took off specifically because of the invention of the VCR.

The bonus episode was a blast. So much information with impressive opinions, a real hoot.

The easter episode was a great topic for this time of year, all 5 of the movies I had never heard of and different hosts convinced me of a few purchases.

Hixster Hollows - Albany,NY

Dave Becker said...

Thanks for stopping by!

@Anonymous: I agree, it is a good title, and I think the film also works quite well on that premise. Please let me know what you think when you get a chance to watch it. Also, glad to hear from a new fan of the show! Thanks so much for the kind words, and thanks for listening.

@Hixster: Thanks so much; I'm glad you enjoyed the review (and I'm with you in that I also have a fondness for 80's horror). Glad you enjoyed the bonus episode and the Easter one as well. Thanks for the kind words, and thanks also for listening to Planet Macabre.