He Knows You’re Alone (1980) Review

After a jilted lover (Tom Rolfing) kills his ex-bride-to-be, he decides justice has not been served and decides that all women preparing for their upcoming nuptials need to meet the sharp end of his knife. The killer has arrived in a new town looking for Amy (Caitlin O’Heaney) and her wedding party to make perfect, voluptuous targets in his sick revenge. Amy’s spotted our killer, but everyone just laughs it off as getting cold feet. Can her ex-boyfriend, Marvin (Don Scardino), get her to dump the groom and save her from the clutches of a madman? Oh, Marvin! My hero!

Defying convention was never the slasher genre’s strong suit, so why start with He Knows You’re Alone? It’s a simple story taken from the pages of the master, John Carpenter, but with a small twist – the killer’s face is never concealed (although he remains quite frightening). Perhaps it’s because of those similarities to Halloween that He Knows has never been a darling of the critics, or many die hard fans for that matter, but I still have a soft spot for this nice little thriller. Most detractors of it hate the fact that it’s a basic road map of Halloween but some of us dig the minimalist plot and the chemistry between the two leads. Don Scardino makes Marvin a decent and likable fellow and Caitlin O’Heaney is good as Amy. Lest we forget, this was also Tom Hanks’ first film. He only shows up in two scenes, but you can see his star quality shining.

He Knows has some great set pieces too. The opening scene spins a clever movie within a movie yarn and eagle eyed horror geeks will notice that’s Russell Todd from Chopping Mall and Friday the 13th Part 2 hanging over the car! Blink and you might miss James Carroll from Girls Nite Out in another scene. Yes, there’s a virtual cornucopia of horror references to be had during just one viewing! Now who could say no to that?

Director Armand Mastroianni knew how to keep the bodycount rolling. The best scene in the film features the curvy Elizabeth Kemp sitting with her back to the camera, listening to a pop ballad on headphones and toking it up as our killer watches. Remember when girls were curvaceous? Those were good days! There’s also a terrific close-to-death reaction from the put-upon final girl who plays it like a real person in her situation would – she freaks out! And big time! The horror at what may happen to her is palpable and creates a great sense of fear during the final chase scene.

So while He Knows is by no means a groundbreaking film it is entertaining and harkens back to the day when films of this ilk had yet to be considered contrived. So take your shoes off, kick back and let the killing begin!

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7 Responses to “ He Knows You’re Alone (1980) Review ”

  1. I hate Tom Hanks so I am glad he has a tiny role. Not the directors fault of course because he was just starting to act. I enjoy this one, for some reason I enjoy watching this in the autumn

  2. This was an awesome film. One of the best 80’s slashers!

  3. Always liked the head in the fish tank scene

  4. I came across the DVD in a Big Lots! store. Had never seen it, but had heard of it. New it was Tom Hanks first movie. More importantly, I knew it was an early 80’s horror flick. So I grabbed it. For less than 5 bucks (think it was only $3) it was a great buy. Kept my attention from beginning to end. And you get the added (unexpected) bonus of a director & writer commentary. Funny thing though: I swear the covershot is of Carol Kane from When a Stranger Calls. Anyway, glad to have it in my collection.

  5. Thanks for reminding me why I like this film, Amanda. I will have to revisit it soon. On my wedding day.

  6. I watched this and EYES OF A STRANGER on the same day only last year – really liked them both – will you folks here throw up a review on EYES sometime ?

  7. I cAn not image anyone not liking Tom Hanks. He is
    an icon. He is an excellent actor and down
    To earth individual. Loved by most. Like most
    Actors that I admire as he grew I grew, not the
    Same way but ultimately like most people we
    have a job to do and we do it well.

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