Tuesday, February 24, 2009


When A Stranger Calls (1979)

Starring: Carol Kane, Charles Durning, Colleen Dewhurst, Tony Beckley

The Gist: Long ago, in a land not so far away, people didn’t have cell phones with SMS capabilities and Caller ID. This was a golden age for creepy British-accented psychopaths as they could call young girls played by older girls (Kane) while they were babysitting and scare them up something fierce. Also actors like Charles Durning could wander around the somewhat pointless middle hour of this film, fat-as-you-like, and make it vaguely watchable.

And then what happens?: About that middle hour: it really has no reason to be here, besides acting as filler between the actually quite scary “Have you checked the children?” beginning and the “You can’t see me, but I had to come back” ending. There’s still fun to be had with the gravel-voiced Colleen Dewhurst as a weathered old drunk the killer becomes fixated on and also the “where the hell is this going?” impression you’ll have when we’re following the homeless killer around for an hour as his crazy-pills wear off. And think about how much easier it was to prank people back then. “THOSE IM’s ARE COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE. WTF?” really doesn’t have the same ring to it.

See it for: The hours of laughs and strange looks you’ll get when you become addicted to saying “Have you checked the children?” in a creepy British accent. I’m doing it right now and there’s no one else in the room. Anymore. Guys?

Level of Crazy: 6. P.S. When Durning tells his partner he’s going to kill the psycho with a sewing needle or something, his response is “You’re straining our friendship, Cliff”. Ah, the 70’s.

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