Thursday, November 12, 2009
Theme Thursday - Telephone
When a Stranger Calls (1979)
[Charles Durning; Carol Kane; Colleen Dewhurst; Tony Beckley; Ron O'Neal]
Plot: A petrified baby-sitter, a relentlessly ringing telephone and whispered threats set the stage for this suspense-packed, hair-raising chiller. A string of menacing phone calls unnerves baby-sitter Jill, until a compulsive shamus enters the scene to nab the caller -- a deranged killer. Fast-forward seven years … the homicidal maniac returns to ruthlessly torment Jill, who's now a wife and mother herself.
This movie is often remembered for the opening, where the babysitter is terrorized by the menacing phone calls from a stranger. These scenes are intense and hit home, at the time, for lots of young girls and women who had fears of something similar happening for real. And Kane was well cast as a nervous, scared teenage babysitter. Her big eyes can act all by themselves!
It is definitely 'of its time', due to the changes with telephones in the past 30 years. Back then, a line like "the calls are coming from inside the house" was damn scary stuff! Now, not so much.
The middle section of the film is not as well remembered and is really pretty sluggish. Dewhurst, Durning and Beckley are great actors, but the whole thing is just slow and almost boring. Yet it does do its part in showing just how dememented the stranger is, instead of making him a one dimensional killer.
The film picks up once more at the end, seven years later, with the babysitter a mother now herself. I was freaked out the first time I saw it. Good way to end a horror flick!
The film had a sequel, "When a Stranger Calls Back", a 1993 made-for-TV movie. Kane and Durning are back in their roles, this time helping another woman who is going through a somewhat similar experience. Not as great as the original, but it has its own positives, as well.
The original film itself was remade in 2006 as "When a Stranger Calls". This film dumps the slow moving middle section of the original, instead having the entire film focus on babysitter Jill and her night of terror. It was not well received. And, as I said, "the calls coming from inside the house" doesn't have the same scare value when everyone and their stalker uncle has a cell phone!
Here is the trailer for the original film:
I still have a hard time grasping the fact that the movie just celebrated its 30th anniversary!
Have you checked the children?
For more Theme Thursday posts, click here ---> Telephone