The ABC Friday Night Movie for November 28, 1980, The Babysitter was directed by Peter Medak, who was also in the chair for movies like The Changeling, Cry for the Strangers, Zorro the Gay Blade, Romeo Is Bleeding, Species II and The Ruling Class. What an amazing lineup of films to have on your resume and such a disparate list of movies.
Dr. Jeff Benedict and his wife Liz (TV movie supercouple William Shatner and Patty Duke) have moved from Seattle to Chicago. Between their daughter Tara (Quinn Cummings, The Goodbye Girl) and the demands of housework, Liz isn’t doing so well. That means they bring in a live-in nanny named Joanna Redwine (Stephanie Zimbalist, before Remington Steele) and that’s when things go to seed.
Before you can say movie of the week, Joanna has Liz drinking again and convinced that Jeff has a mistress. While that game is afoot, she’s also trying to convince Jeff that loading his clown into her cannon while wifey is passed out is beyond a good idea
This is when you fire the babysitter. That said — if they did, we would not have the next hour and change of this movie.
Before it’s over, the bodies of the last family Joanna killed — wrapped in plastic a half decade before Laura Palmer — have showed up, she’s wearing Patty Duke’s lingerie and served up a dinner of raw beef tongue. The family is lucky that they know John Houseman, who saves them all.
I have a weakness for both made for TV movies and ones where babysitters slowly drive a family insane. This movie is at the center of this magnificent cycle and must be experienced. These TV movies are exploitation films, with small budgets and insane stories, that scream at you the entire time they are on the screen.
You can watch this on YouTube: