He Knows You're Alone

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He Knows You're Alone
He knows youre alone poster.jpg
Original movie poster
Directed byArmand Mastroianni
Produced byGeorge Manasse
Written byScott Parker
Music byAlexander Peskanov
Mark Peskanov
Edited byGeorge Norris
Distributed byUnited Artists (United States/Canada)
Cinema International Corporation (international)
Release date
  • August 29, 1980 (1980-08-29)[a]
Running time
94 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
Box office$4.9 million

He Knows You're Alone is a 1980 American slasher film directed by Armand Mastroianni, written by Scott Parker, and starring Caitlin O'Heaney, Don Scardino, Elizabeth Kemp, Tom Rolfing, and Tom Hanks in his feature film debut. The plot follows a soon-to-be bride who is stalked by a killer the weekend before her wedding.

Shot in Staten Island, New York in 1979, He Knows You're Alone has been credited as one of the first horror films inspired by the success of Halloween (1978) and shares a number of similarities with the previous hit.


A young bride is murdered on her wedding day by the man she rejected for her current fiancé Len Gamble, a police detective. Several years later on Long Island, a bride-to-be is stabbed to death in a movie theater while her friend sits beside her. The killer, Ray Carlton, disappears into the night while her friend screams after finding her dead.

The next morning, Ray arrives at Staten Island, where he sees Amy Jensen – a university student – from a distance. Amy is preparing for her wedding. She sees off her fiancé, Phil, and his friends on their way out of town for a bachelor party before the wedding. After attending a ballet class with her friends Nancy and Joyce, the three run into their psychology professor Carl, with whom Joyce is having an affair. Amy leaves to go to a dress fitting, stopping to get ice cream on the way, where she notices a man following her. Outside the ice cream shop, she is startled by Marvin, her ex-boyfriend, who is on a break from his job at the local morgue. She then goes to the dress shop for her fitting. As she leaves, the dressmaker is stabbed to death with a pair of scissors. Later that night, Nancy and Joyce surprise Amy at her home with a small bachelorette party. Her parents are gone for the weekend, leaving Amy in charge of her kid sister. Joyce leaves the party for Carl's house, where the two begin to have sex until the power inexplicably goes out. Carl goes to check on the electrical box. When he returns, he is stabbed to death by the killer with a kitchen knife after finding Joyce's lifeless body in the bed.

The following morning, Marvin arrives at Amy's house and insinuates that he wants to rekindle their relationship, and Amy expresses second thoughts over her marriage to Phil. While in the kitchen, Amy sees the mysterious man standing in her yard and becomes frightened. She invites Marvin to come to a local amusement park with her, Nancy, and her sister, but he declines as he has a shift at the morgue that night. Meanwhile, the police find the dressmaker's body at the shop. Detectives Frank Daley and Len Gamble arrive to investigate. Later, Amy and Nancy meet Elliot, a psychology student, while jogging through a forest trail. They later attend the amusement park with him, where he questions Amy's claims of a man following her. While riding a dark ride with her sister, Amy sees Ray inside the ride and confides in Nancy at her house that night. Amy briefly leaves to take her sister to a birthday party, leaving Nancy alone at the house. After taking a shower, Nancy puts on a record and lies down in the living room to smoke a joint. Moments later, she has her throat slashed by Ray.

Amy returns and is attacked by Ray after discovering Nancy's severed head in the fish tank. She rushes outside to her car and struggles to drive with Ray on the roof. She crashes the car in a wooded area and runs to the nearby morgue, where she finds Marvin and phones the police. Ray enters the morgue, and Detective Gamble arrives as well. Ray chases Amy through a tunnel system in the morgue's basement. When confronted by Detective Gamble, Ray stabs him in the heart after he gets shot in his left shoulder. Nevertheless, Ray continues to pursue Amy. Amy manages to trap the wounded Ray inside a storage closet and escapes from the basement with Marvin. The two flee outside as the police arrive and enter the morgue.

Later, Marvin and Amy are to be married, implying that she cut off her marriage to Phil. As Amy sits in front of a mirror in her wedding dress, an unseen person enters the room. She stands, approaches the camera and says "Phil, what are you doing here?". She screams as the screen fades to red.



The film was originally slated to be shot in Houston, Texas, under executive producer Samuel Z. Arkoff (who had executive-produced other releases from MGM, including The Amityville Horror the previous year), but Arkoff was unable to finance the film, so as a result, it was shot entirely in Staten Island, New York, with half of the original budget.[4] The film was shot on 35mm[5] over a period of fifteen days in December 1979, with the film's climax being shot at the historic Seaview Hospital in Staten Island.[4] According to director Mastroianni, the entire production from script to final edit took only six months to complete.[4]

The original music score was composed by Alexander and Mark Peskanov. The film marked the first movie appearance of actor Tom Hanks, who played a relatively small part.[6] In fact, it was said that Hanks' character was originally written to be killed off with Nancy's character, but because the filmmakers liked him so much, they omitted filming his death scene for the film.


He Knows You're Alone had its world premiere in Los Angeles, California, on August 29, 1980.[7] The film opened in New York City the following month on September 26, showing at several cinemas in Manhattan.[8]


The film received mixed to negative reviews, including one by Tom Buckley of The New York Times, citing "uncertain pacing, halting performances and innumerable technical flaws", while praising the performance of male lead Don Scardino.[8] The Boston Globe's Michael Blowen faulted the film's script and direction as "slow and strictly second rate," adding "the production values are only slightly better than those in my uncle's home movies."[9] Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times deemed the film a "standard grisly rampaging killer fare...  there are the usual bows to Hitchcock...  but He Knows You're Alone is really no more than just another by-the-numbers piece of sickening trash."[10]

Jack Mathews of the Detroit Free Press wrote: "Rarely has a horror movie worked so hard for so little. There are so many cinematic shock tactics employed—tacky eerie music announcing the killer's presence, shadowy forms in the foreground and background, slamming doors, blown light fuses, hands on shoulders etc.—that you're numb by the sixth killing."[11] Jimmy Summers of BoxOffice magazine gave the film a negative review, noting: "He Knows You're Alone is another one of those low-budget thrillers that should carry in the credits line: "Based on characters and ideas developed by John Carpenter.""[12] Additionally, Summers noted the lack of on-screen violence as leaving the "more blood-thirsty horror fans feeling cheated.[12] John Dodd of the Edmonton Journal similarly deemed the film "unoriginal and unnecessary" and a "bloody, boring walk down the aisle."[13]

John Herzfeld of The Courier-Journal, however, praised the film's opening film-within-a-film sequence as a "wry twist," concluding: "Despite the incompetent script and some irregular pacing, He Knows You're Alone does deliver a few surprises and some suspense."[14]

In a retrospective, Rovi noted the film's opening sequence in the movie theater to be an almost "shot-by-shot" influence on the opening scene of Wes Craven's Scream 2 (1997).[3]


  1. ^ The internet review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes erroneously lists the film's release date as December 31, 1980, which contradicts its entry with the American Film Institute catalog, which cites the film's Los Angeles opening as August 29, and its New York opening September 26; the latter coincides with Tom Buckley's review of the film in The New York Times, which is dated September 26, 1980.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b "He Knows You're Alone". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  2. ^ "He Knows You're Alone (Blood Wedding)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "He Knows You're Alone". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 22, 2014. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Mastroianni, Armand, and Scott Parker. He Knows You're Alone audio commentary (DVD). Warner Bros. 2004.
  5. ^ "He Knows You're Alone". British Film Institute (BFI). Retrieved April 29, 2015.
  6. ^ Staff (October 22, 2014). "What's in a Name?: "He Knows You're Alone"". The Anniston Star. Horror Fest. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
  7. ^ "He Knows You're Alone (1980)". American Film Institute. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  8. ^ a b Buckley, Tom (September 26, 1980). "He Knows You re Alone (1980): OBSTACLE TO MARRIAGE". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 29, 2014. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  9. ^ Blowen, Michael (October 1, 1980). "Familiar recipe fails with 'He Knows You're Alone'". The Boston Globe. Boston, Massachusetts. p. 40 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ Thomas, Kevin (August 26, 1980). "Fair Killer Fare Citywide Friday". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. p. 2 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ Mathews, Jack (August 29, 1980). "'He Knows You're Alone,' but you won't if you laugh". Detroit, Michigan. p. 3C – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ a b Summers, Jimmy (September 1, 1980). "He Knows You're Alone" (PDF download). BoxOffice. Reviews: 36–7.
  13. ^ Dodd, John (October 3, 1980). "Bloody, boring walk down the aisle". Edmonton Journal. Edmonton, Alberta. p. B16 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ Herzfeld, John (September 20, 1980). "'He Knows You're Alone' isn't the cliche it appears". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky. p. B7 – via Newspapers.com.

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