For Hicksflicks.com, July 4, 2014

The original 1965 version of "I Saw What You Did," directed by William Castle and starring Joan Crawford, was released on DVD in 1999, and before that was on VHS. But it quickly fell out of print and has been an oft-requested title ever since.

Of course, you can buy a copy of that 1999 DVD at Amazon.com for $139 if you're so inclined. And no, that's not a typo: $139.

But why would you, since it's just been released by the Universal Vault manufacture-on-demand label at a much more reasonable price?

"I Saw What You Did" is a classic premise if not necessarily a classic film. There's a campiness now that exceeds the campiness that seemed inherent in 1965, but the film still provides a few chills and laughs.

The memorable storyline — spoofed many times and remade in 1988 as a TV movie — has a pair of teenage girls randomly picking phone numbers from the telephone directory to make prank calls, then saying into the receiver in low, serious tones, "I saw what you did, I know who you are."


Of course, this won't mean anything to younger viewers. They probably don't know what a telephone is, much less a telephone directory.

The girls are having a great time until they happen to call John Ireland, who has just killed his wife (Joyce Meadows) and buried her in the woods. Thinking he's been found out, Ireland decides to track down the caller and do away with her.

Crawford plays Ireland's neighbor, who is in love with him — but she isn't in on the murder. But when she finds out about it and confronts him, Crawford lands on Ireland's to-do list, even as she inadvertently provides him with the teen girls' location.

These were over-the-top, campy years for Crawford and she's deliciously hideous, overplaying every moment, shaking her big hair and her even bigger necklace (which looks like it weighs a ton).

Director Castle was famous in the 1960s for his horror-movie gimmicks — a floating plastic skeleton in theaters showing "The House on Haunted Hill" (1959), vibrators attached to certain theater seats for "The Tingler" (1959), 3-D glasses for parts of "13 Ghosts" to allow the viewer to see or not see the ghosts, a "fright break" with a timer at the climax of "Homicidal" (1961), and many more. (Castle's persona was spoofed by John Goodman in the 1993 comedy "Matinee.")

For "I Saw What You Did," the posters proclaim: "This is a motion picture about UXORICIDE!" ("Uxoricide" means the killing of one's wife.)

An early trailer hosted by Castle had him buckling up in his director's chair as he announced that "This theater will furnish seat belts for your safety so you won't be shocked out of your seat."

But this ploy was strictly for the trailer. It was never put into practice in any theaters.