Saturday, June 12, 2010

He Knows You're Alone

1980's HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE is a routine slasher shot on Staten Island that is really only of interest as Tom Hanks’ film debut.

Someone is murdering brides-to-be on the eve of their weddings. When Amy (Caitlin O’Heaney), whose cad of a fiancé goes out of town for the weekend, appears to be the next victim, she turns to former flame Marvin (Don Scardino) for protection. In pursuit of the killer is obsessed detective Len Gamble (soap actor Lewis Arlt, struggling with a thankless part), whose fiancé was the killer’s first target.

Unusually for a slasher, the killer’s identity is no mystery nor is the film structured like a whodunit. However, the killer (Tom Rolfing) also isn’t scary, and scripter Scott Parker (DIE LAUGHING) neglects to provide him much of a personality or presence. His deal is that he’s a cuckolded groom getting revenge on brides, but to fill the body count, Parker has him killing a bunch of people who aren’t brides.

Some horror fans will probably lament the absence of excess gore and nudity (the big effect is a very fake-looking head in an aquarium), as director Armand Mastroianni (CAMERON’S CLOSET) aims for suspense instead of slash. An effective pre-credit movie-theater stalking is one of his best scenes; SCREAM 2 ripped it off for its opening.

In addition to several other actors who went on to become familiar faces—Patsy Pease (DAYS OF OUR LIVES), James Rebhorn (CARLITO’S WAY), Steve James (AMERICAN NINJA), Paul Gleason (THE BREAKFAST CLUB)—Hanks appears briefly near the end as the date of a murder victim. He’s quite good, showcasing a light comic potential that would blossom on BOSOM BUDDIES, which premiered just a couple of months after HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE came out.

One of the more blatant HALLOWEEN rip-offs even apes John Carpenter’s famous theme in Alexander and Mark Peskanov’s musical score. Scardino (SQUIRM) turned to directing New York-based TV series like 30 ROCK and LAW & ORDER, while O’Heaney went on to TALES OF THE GOLD MONKEY.


Drew McIntosh said...

Good stuff, Marty. The earliest Hanks I've seen is Mazes and Monsters (which I believe was his first starring role), and that was likewise a fairly ridiculous and by-the-books exercise in teenage parent scare tactics. Like this, it's not really notable at all, other than the general interest that comes from seeing a big star in an early, pre-fame role.

Just found your blog and I dig it. Keep up the good work!

Mark Morgan said...

Once again you've dug up something I've never even heard of and that's rare for me. You have no idea what a joy this blog is. I've already poured through a great deal of your archives finding treasures galore!

But, back to topic now. The thing that tickles me the most about your article is that I can now add Tom Hanks' name to the growing list of writers, directors, and actors who contributed to Horror movies early in their career.

Two of Francis Ford Coppola's earliest directorial works were The Terror and Dementia 13 for Roger Corman; Jennifer Aniston appeared in Leprechaun early in her career; and Bob Clark (most famous as the director of 'A Christmas Story') made the original version of 'Black Christmas'.

If for no other reason than all the talent it has helped to unearth Horror should be considered a treasure of the creative medium. Pity the mainstream doesn't embrace that view, of course if they did, they'd probably ruin it like everything else.

Great Article, Sir! My hat is off to you! Well Done!