The other evening I was mindlessly channel surfing in a bout of lockdown enforced laziness when I came across “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle” on Sky Greats and instantly that was my evening sorted. A classic thriller from the 1990s that quite frankly just doesn’t get made anymore. I remember watching this as a teen and being both gripped and terrified in equal measure.
It was honestly the BEST 10 years or so from 1985 to 1995 for amazing psychological shenanigans. Yes of course so many of them are predictable and in an era now where we expect so much from what we watch, you’d probably think some of the films are dated and questionable. But in times of worry, regression to what we used to know is very natural. I started thinking about all the films I loved and would easily stop and watch now if I come across them on TV. And if there’s one thing that epitomised them all it was a stalker of some sort. Stalker lodgers. Stalker lovers. Stalker friends. Stalker neighbours. You get it. Anyway, I think we need a reminder of just how good the era was so here we go!
Pacific Heights – 1990 – Stalker Lodger
Starring: Michael Keaton, Matthew Modine, Melanie Griffiths
Clearly to be in this film your first name had to start with M. The BEST example of lodger from hell situations, Michael Keaton goes full on freaky as the tenant in Matt and Mel’s San Fran 19th century project. Described as a “horror film for yuppies” when it came out, there’s definitely an element of gentrification just as it was starting to become a term in this film but it’s a solid watch. Expect missing rent payments, electrics tampering and let’s just stay, be careful where you keep your drills…
Single White Female – 1992 – Stalker Roommate
Starring: Bridget Fonda, Jennifer Jason Leigh
When New York career woman Allie (played by Bridget Fonda) advertises for a new roommate to share her industrial New York warehouse apartment, she gets more than she bargains for when loner Hedy ingratiates herself into her world. Mimicking her clothes, her hair style and cut and becoming dangerously obsessed, Single White Female will have you wanting to live alone for the rest of your days.
Fatal Attraction – 1987 – Stalker One Night Stand
Starring: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer
Surely one of the most iconic films to spawn an actual affair warning catchphrase (Bunny Boiler in case you didn’t know), Michael Douglas plays a married man who has a brief, ill-thought out fling with a colleague (Glenn Close). Of course he wants the thrill of the affair whilst also still being married (eye roll) but Close’s portrayal as the woman scorned is spectacular and she’ll stop at nothing to get her man. Interestingly Glenn Close has since said that she feels her character was very misunderstood and in the enlightened times we live in now, one may be inclined to agree.
The Hand That Rocks The Cradle – 1992 – Stalker Nanny
Starring: Annabella Sciorra, Rebecca De Mornay
A proper old bitch-fest as young mother Claire slugs it out with vengeful nanny Peyton, intent on stealing Claire’s husband and two young children for herself. From framing the handyman, bumping off the best friend and even stealthily breast-feeding the baby, this is a woman on a vengeful mission and was definitely the first time I think I thought “wow, women can be so manipulative”. One to make you realise that if you do hire a nanny, make sure it’s an 86 year old with false teeth.
Dead Calm – 1989 – Stalker Killer
Starring: Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman, Billy Zane
The film that propelled Nicole Kidman on her way to stardom. She plays one half of a couple (with Sam Neill) on a boat who rescue marooned Billy Zane, not knowing that he’s a serial killer and has just put paid to the crew of the boat he’s on. He’s maniacal, she’s fierce. It’s the classic story of “don’t talk to strangers”. Especially when you’re on a bloody boat in the middle of the ocean. Amateurs.
Sleeping With The Enemy – 1991 – Stalker Ex
Starring: Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin
This is the film that made me realise I don’t ever want to be someone with uber organised, labelled cupboards. And if you haven’t seen it, watch it and let that OCD go. You’ll thank me! Julia Roberts fakes her own death to escape her controlling husband to start life afresh somewhere else. She slowly builds up her confidence and finds love again but you just now know the ex is hunting her down…
If you can find any of these on, they’re all well worth a “leave your brain at the door” mindless watch for a couple of hours or so. We need escapism in any form right now and cheesy old movies are just the ticket.