The Drudgeon reviews When A Stranger Calls

When A Stranger Calls 97 min., 1979
Written by Steve Feke/Fred Walton
Directed by Fred Walton
Language: English
My rating: ★★★

One of the best first 20 minutes of a movie.

* * *

We begin with a girl named Jill Johnson (Carol Kane) at the door of the house of Dr. Mandrakis (Carmen Argenziano) and Mrs. Mandrakis (Rutanya Alda) where she is going to babysit for the night.  She is told that the children are already asleep and to try and not wake them.  After a little time she starts getting calls from some unknown man and he starts asking of she has checked on the kids lately.  She calls the cops and they tell her to make sure the house is secure and not to worry.  He continues to call and she calls the cops again.  This time they tell her that she needs to keep him on the phone so they can trace the call.  After some more time goes by she gets a call from the cops who tell her that the call is coming from inside the house.  She finally gets out and the culprit, Curt Duncan (Tony Beckley) is caught and sent to an asylum.  He escapes some years later but is being followed by ex-cop John Clifford (Charles Durning), but can John control himself while he follows him?

The acting is just okay in the movie.  Carol Kane is great in the way that she conveys her growing terror and she really makes the character of Jill being quite believable.  Charles Durning is also really good especially with his show of conviction.  He follows Curt and almost every time you see him he is just so determined.  On the opposite side we have Tony Beckley who has some good scenes, but overall he is just really poor.  I could never really get into him or fully believe that he was all that threatening.  Charles Durning comes off more terrifying than him and that is just really sad.

The amount of effects in the movie is very small and the ones that are there are just okay.

Overall this is a pretty great movie, okay the first twenty minutes of the movie is really great but after that it just kinda lags until the end.  This is one of the movies that started (not the first but probably the most noticed) the whole killer inside the house sub-genre of horror and there is a good reason for that.  The beginning is very tight and solid and could really stand on its own, so with the first part of the movie being one of the best tension building moments in horror and the last part being just boring, I’d just suggest that you watch the movie until she gets out of the house (okay almost out) and then just stop there.

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About The Drudgeon

I don't remember my real name or where I came from. All I know is that I'm traped in an underground cave with nothing but a TV, DVD player and a notebook and pen. They keep calling me The Drudgeon, I don't even know what that means. Someone keeps dropping horror movies in and yelling at me to watch them and write about what I watch. Then I eat the DVD and case, because they tell me if I consume the horror I will understand the horror. I think there are three of them. So if you are reading this right now, HELP ME!!!!!!! OUCH!!!! Someone just poked me with a sea urchin attacked to a pool cue, what the fuck is going on?
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