The Babysitter (1980) A household is torn apart by a maniacal babysitter.

Theme Song: The following four people are listed on IMDB as uncredited contributors to the soundtrack: Ole Georg, Arlon Ober, Leonard Rogowski, and Robert J. Walsh. All four of these guys are deep cover Hollywood studio musicians who don’t care about getting proper credit for their work. It’s almost admirable.


The main/intro theme is full on Giallo, a vibe that is well suited to The Babysitter.


This song, we’ll call it, “Catch Me Now,” is fucking awesome. It sounds a like a watered down Gerard McMahon, but it’s still really great. Again, no specific music credits are given, but it’s either Ole, Arlon, Leonard, or Robert. Maybe all four, like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.


This is a synthy number that plays when a group of teens are making out. I challenge you to find a person that will make out to this song in a sensual, non-ironic manner.

Interesting Dated References: William Shatner before he turned himself into a living caricature of William Shatner.

Best Line: William Shatner saying lines as if he were a serious actor instead of a pop culture punchline.

Social Context: This is one of those “babysitter/caregiver moves into house and slowly turns family against themselves” movies. I don’t really know if it’s an actual subgenre, but I’m sure you’ve seen similarly-themed movies (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle). Holy fuck, I just remembered I saw Swimfan in the theatre.

Summary: Tara Benedict is a lonely tween recently relocated to an island off Washington, near Seattle. She has no friends and wanders around getting into trouble while wearing uncomfortable-looking, frumpy sweatshirts. Eventually she meets Joanna, a local 20-something who is eager to befriend the young girl.

The Babysitter

Coincidentally, Tara’s parents are looking for a housekeeper/babysitter because Mrs. Benedict (Patty Duke, R.I.P – Mom, the Wolfman and Me), a recovered alcoholic, is totally inept at mothering/housekeeping. Mr. Benedict (William Shatner – Lil’ Pimp, Operation Bikini) is too busy working at the office to pay any attention to his family.

The Babysitter

So they hire Joanna, and she proceeds to drive the family apart. This includes being gruff and forceful with Tara, convincing Mrs. Benedict to start hitting the bottle again, and repeatedly coming onto Mr. Benedict.

The Babysitter

Then, because the plot really has nowhere to go, the writers added a nosy neighbor doctor (John Houseman – The Bionic Woman) to uncover the fact that Joanna is a totally insane, homicidal maniac, who killed the child of her previous employer. He tracks Joanna to an empty mansion where she has an entire dead family wrapped in plastic.

The Babysitter

During the unexciting conclusion, Joanna cradles herself and rambles about how “they wouldn’t listen,” because that’s what insane people do. This ending is full of shit. We all know that insane people don’t act like this. In reality they scrape by, holding their loved ones hostage for the duration of their lifetime until they die.

Worth Mentioning:
• This was a made-for-television movie that got a videocassette release.
• Patty Duke (credited here as Patty Duke Austin) and William Shatner flex a lot of acting muscle as the struggling married couple. Duke in particular does a very good job as the struggling alcoholic mother. It seems like in the 70s-80s legitimate actors would use television movies to work on technique, with sometimes pleasing results.

• Stephanie Zimbalist, who plays Joanna, wears a lots of sexy 80s clothing, like shiny ballerina tops. This should come back into style.

• In a nice scene, Patty Duke gets to trash a living room in an alcoholic rage. There should be a clause in home insurance policies that allows you to do this at least once every five years.

The Babysitter

• Directed by Peter Medak the same year he did The Changeling.

Poster and Box Art: There is no poster and the videocassette box is just a blurry photo of a knife.

The Babysitter

This TV Guide ad, on the other hand, is dope. They even gave the title a custom type treatment. Credit due to the uncredited graphic artist, slaving away week after week making ads for movie-of-the-weeks. We can assume he/she committed suicide sometime in the late 80s as people started to tell him/her over and over how computers were going to make their job obsolete.

Availability: Used VHS.

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