TBT: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)


I wonder if I should adopt a new rule or something for this little guy, now the longest-running feature I currently have on my page. Today’s selection is a movie my peepers haven’t come across in quite some time. And so now I’m thinking of all the ways these reviews might be more interesting if I choose films I’ve seen before (but some time ago) and then write something on them. See how my memory serves me, and how my gut reaction changes (if it does). While catching back up on films with recent watches certainly helps to put a fresh perspective on things, sometimes those first reactions we have are the ones we always will hold. Unfortunately, I think this method of reviewing will severely limit the number of films that I can talk about, given I’ve only kicked my movie-watching habits up in the last three or four years and my back catalogue isn’t much to talk about. Either way, look for some more of these kinds of reviews from time to time. You probably won’t be able to tell the difference. Then again, perhaps you will. 😀

Today’s food for thought: I Know What You Did Last Summer


Making 16-year-old prom queens slightly uncomfortable since: October 17, 1997


A horror film with not much in the way of a brain, I Know What You Did Last Summer managed to skate on a free-wheeling, fun-having charm all its own. Featuring several of the hottest (and I don’t necessarily mean as in ‘successful’) teen actors from the mid-to-late ’90s — I mean come on, this film was afforded Buffy‘s Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Love-Hewitt (who was then still up-and-coming), Freddie Prinze Jr., and a bright-eyed young Johnny Galecki.

Seems odd to introduce a horror film review with a cast whose collective star power has for the most part faded over the last decade or so but it occurs to me now that these highly-recognizable faces contributed mightily in helping this otherwise unremarkable slasher thriller achieve cult status. Hey, that was the best it could have possibly ever hoped for, anyway, right? And while our hindsight is still operating at 20-20, I might as well go on record and declare this film hardly instrumental in extending the success of Michelle Gellar’s career; there are two sequels to this film for any fan bored enough to entertain the notion, but these folks won’t find her in either of them.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was her way out of this kind of purgatory. Then The Grudge came along and had other thoughts on the matter.

But in spite of failing to really impress critics of the day or finding legitimate popularity like cornerstone films like The Shining and the like — why do I have this creepy feeling that the $125 million this film made came out of the pockets of swarming debutantes and their jock boyfriends? — there’s always been something about knowing what these kids did that summer that actually makes for a perfectly pleasant viewing. Perfectly pleasant — yes, you read me right.

A group of teens go out to a popular hang-out spot to do that thing all teens do in the summer. . . study. Right. Yes, they go here and study. And when they’re done studying, they return safely in their cars and tuck themselves into bed quietly and cherubic. Except on this night; this night is different. When returning to town and having become somehow intoxicated (teens don’t drink, that’s an urban legend. . .) the teens swerve off the road and strike a pedestrian. After arguing over what to do about the body, they come to the natural conclusion that it should be discarded of in the ocean.

Hey, he had a life, some kids perhaps and a job to go to every day, but he won’t mind taking this one for the team. But the thing they don’t count on, you see, is this uncanny ability for this man — an apparently keen fisherman — to not stay dead. It’s a practiced skill and this fucker has got it. A struggle inevitably ensues, as these things often do whenever attempting to avoid being tried for manslaughter as a teen. And before the Croaker Pageant, no less! This is just the WORST timing ever. . .

If you have sat through this already, then you know the catalyst occurred fairly early and the bulk of IKWYDLS revolved around the teens trying to shake a mostly-unseen attacker who claims to have witnessed the events of their last trip to that private beach. And as they say, paranoia is not paranoia if someone is really out to, well, slash your throat with an ice pick. Predictable kills surely ensued, but what was less expected was how effective the threats were in actually dredging up some kind of fear in us, the spectators to this pretty poorly-written affair.

Former friends turned on each other try in desperation to figure out who this Mr. Letter-Writer Person is; former boyfriends/girlfriends turned exes — damn, the stakes are just so high in this movie. But we never came to this movie for the potential awards, we came for the killing. And that it does have plenty of. Okay, so maybe we came for the Croaker Pageant, too. That also does not disappoint.


3-0Recommendation: If what you seek is pure entertainment, I’m not sure what you’re waiting for with this slightly-grisly slasher featuring a cast you are hard-pressed to find elsewhere. While not necessarily a staple of the 90’s, IKWYDLS is undeniable fun, a true guilty pleasure that tests the credibility of the age-old urban legend formula.

Rated: R

Running Time: 100 mins.

Quoted: “I got run over. Helen gets her hair chopped off, and Julie gets a body in her trunk, and you get a letter? Yeah, that’s balanced.”

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Photo credits: http://www.horrornews.net; http://www.imdb.com 

16 thoughts on “TBT: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

  1. Nice review. This is indeed a fun little guilty pleasure. I know it’s a bit shit but I like it. It’s my kind of PG-13 horror. : ) (I don’t know if that’s the actual rating but you know what I mean. Lol. I hate the Saw films & all that torture porn stuff!)


    • Hey Mutey!!!!!! I think you are right on there — it’s a shamelessly cheesy movie that’s easily enjoyable. I thought so anyway. Glad to have another in my camp!!! 🙂

      I thought it was going to be lonely over here but apparently a few people have bought into this one. If I had to venture a guess to say what my kind of horror is, it might be slasher as well. I was actually a fan of the Jigsaw mantra up until they decided to just never let it go. That franchise shoulda been wrapped up in three, IMO


  2. And once again, the 4/8 surprises me.

    I haven’t seen this one, and so I have no idea if I’d like it. I do know that when it was released I was in my “anything mainstream must suck” phase and so avoided it. And then I learned slasher films and I usually don’t get along. So I’ve avoided it. Is it good enough that I should finally cave and see it?


    • I think you ought to give it a go man. There’s a certain level of cheesiness that goes along with these proceedings (that I seem to remember, at least. . .it’s literally been at least 10 years since I’ve seen this one!) that makes IKWYDLS much more watchable than it would have any right to be if it took itself super seriously. There’ll be certain tropes about the genre that likely will annoy, but if you can overcome these things I think the 50% score accurately reflects the overall product.

      I’m also attempting to “toughen up” my grading scale, so the 4’s and 5’s you might see now might seem harsh, but really a 5/8 is a pretty positive score. I’ve noted in recent movies I’ve allowed the 7/8 and the 8/8 to be achieved too easily. Not that those films haven’t been very good, they just haven’t been as close to perfect as those kinds of scores I think should indicate. So there’s a shift there.


      • Makes sense on the scoring. You’re just deliberately getting tougher.

        And in that case I might someday try What You Did Last Summer.


    • Me too Adam, me too. It’s certainly an unabashedly cheap and shitty slasher, with clear ties to Scream, but so what. It’s fun! 🙂 Thanks a lot man


    • What are you talking about man? This is a goddamn 5-star classic. DSB was just on an off-day, he really meant to afford this the whole pie! lol.

      yeah. . . .


  3. I don’t know. For some reason, I felt like this was just a really cheesy retread of everything Scream did, except without the self-awareness. Therefore, the charm was lost too. Good review.


    • Yeah for sure it’s a knock-off, which is why it only gets the 4/8 dish today!!!! 😀 😀

      Thanks man


    • You’re not missing a classic or anything man. I’m also not big on horror but considering I just watched a very interesting film on Vimeo the other day, whose premise actually centered around a cover-up of a dead body just like this, i thought IKWYDLS would be a logical choice for the TBT this week. 🙂


  4. You nailed it. It is fun. It’s certainly not a movie deserving of high praise, but it is one that you just sit back and have fun with. I remember seeing it in the theater and having a good time with it. I just haven’t revisited it in a while. Good stuff Tom!


    • 100% agree Keith, this film is a pretty forgettable one but it seems to dredge back up memories of the 90s pretty well for me. There’s something nostalgic about this really cheesy little flick! Good to know you can enjoy it a bit too my friend


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