When a Stranger Calls (1979)
Written By: DMG
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Fred Walton
Producer: Doug Chapin, Steve Feke
Screenplay: Steve Feke, Fred Walton
Date Released: September 28, 1979
Charles Durning as John Clifford
Carol Kane as Jill Johnson
Colleen Dewhurst as Tracy Fuller
Tony Beckley as Curt Duncan
Carmen Argenziano as Dr. Mandrakis
Rutanya Alda as Mrs. Mandrakis
William Boyett as Sgt. Sacker
Rating = 1.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Jill is babysitting for the Mandrakis family one night watching over their two sick children. As she is sitting in the home doing her homework, she receives strange phone calls at the house. Someone is stalking her and it turns out he is in the house and had already killed the two children. Years later, after he escaped a mental institution, he is on the loose again.
There is very little blood and gore in this film. However, when the killer has visions of the people he has murdered in the past, there is a small bursts of imagery. As a whole, the film incorporates minimal graphic imagery.
The Grave Review
The plot of When a Stranger Calls is as the title suggests; a random person is stalking and taunting someone within the house without provocation. The story had the makings of what could have been an interesting plot, but went from being a possible horror film to a murder mystery. Although, there is nothing wrong with crime stories, there just seemed to be too many directions that the film was taking. Just having the stalker make random phone calls and seeing how the babysitter reacted could have in and of itself been a story without the additional crime detective element. On the other hand, the film would have also made a good crime story. But regardless of the genre classification of the film, the plot was not developed in its entirety.
The pace of the film felt sluggish. There were a lot of scenes where there just was not much happening. The progression of the film overall was moderate but not enough to keep the attention of the viewer.
On a side note, in the beginning of the movie, there were loud rings from a telephone from the killer. After a while, the ringing from the telephone starts to become trying as the ring is very loud and obnoxious.
The acting was subpar. However, the performance from private detective John Clifford, played by Charles Durning, was on point. Overall, the film, When a Stranger Calls, had a lot of potential, but was not a great film. The lack of detail and direction created a poorly executed film.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives When a Stranger Calls one and a half graves out of five graves.
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