I SAW WHAT YOU DID
The audience for Castles novelty films had started to grow thin by the early 1960s. Either that or inspiration for new gimmicks themselves was running out. By this time, Castle had discovered a new genre sideline to tap the psycho-thriller. The start of the decade brought Alfred Hitchcocks Psycho (1960), which in itself had used Castle-styled promotional gimmicks where Hitchcock had it contractually stipulated that audiences were not allowed into the theatre after the film had started and he appeared in a promotional trailer asking them not to give away the ending. With Homicidal, Castle began tapping the psycho-thriller genre and stayed there for much of the rest of the decade. A couple of years after Psycho, the psycho-thriller genre had another big success with What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), which gave a renewed career boost to both Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and began a trend of films featuring aging Hollywood stars going completely bonkers. Castle ventured into a couple of these Batty Old Dames films with The Night Walker (1965) featuring Barbara Stanwyck, while he employed Joan Crawford twice, in Strait-Jacket (1964) and here. (Here she is top-billed despite only having a supporting role as John Irelands mistress who is bumped off part way through).
I Saw What You Did is not a gimmick film but is a psycho-thriller set around a gimmick that of prank phone calls. The central idea two bored teenage girls amuse themselves making prank calls and saying I Saw What You Did, only to inadvertently call a man who has just murdered his wife is a gimmick that feels more suited to being a half-hour episode of a tv anthology show of the era like Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-62) or Thriller (1960-2) than it does in being spun out to a feature-length film. It is also one of those premises that technology would have rendered impossible today caller id would puncture the pranksters balloon in no time, while most people now routinely refuse to pick up an unknown number or would simply let the call go to answer phone. The film here even has cuts away to switchboard operators connecting lines and people using four digit phone numbers.
The plot is dependent on being dragged out with improbable devices the killer traces the girls whereabouts after his jealous mistress Joan Crawford snatches Audi Garnetts learners licence and people behaving in ways that seem hard to believe Audi Garnett develops an instant crush on John Ireland based solely on his voice after a two-minute phone conversation and impetuously rushes off to see him, imagining herself romancing him. Castle at least generates some okay suspense in the scenes with John Ireland sinisterly skulking about and killing people. He even stages a Psycho-modelled shower murder sequence that comes as a jolt surprise early in the show. On the other hand, the scenes with the teenage airheads, where much of the focus of the film is, do drag the show out.
The film was later remade as a tv movie I Saw What You Did (1988) with Shawnee Smith and Tammy Lauren as the two girls and Robert Carradine playing the killer.
William Castles other films of genre note as producer-director are: as director of Crime Doctors Manhunt (1945), the sixth in a series of Columbia crime thrillers, of which Castle directed several, featuring a forensicologist against a split-personalitied killer; the psycho-thriller Macabre (1958); House on Haunted Hill (1959); the classic The Tingler (1959), probably Castles best film; the haunted house film 13 Ghosts (1960); the psycho-thriller Homicidal (1961); Mr. Sardonicus (1961) about a man with his face caught in a grotesque frozen smile; the juvenile comedy Zotz! (1962) about a magical coin; the remake of The Old Dark House (1963) for Hammer; the Grand Guignol psycho-thriller Strait-Jacket (1964) with Joan Crawford; The Night Walker (1965), a psycho-thriller about a dream lover; the psycho-thriller Lets Kill Uncle (1965); the ghost comedy The Spirit is Willing (1967); the reality-bending sf film Project X (1968); as producer of the classic occult film Rosemarys Baby (1968) for Roman Polanski; as producer of the anthology series Ghost Story (1972-3); Shanks (1974) with Marcel Marceau as a puppeteer who can resurrect the dead; and as producer of the firestarting insect film Bug! (1975).