When a Stranger Calls (1979) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Although not a cinema classic, When a Stranger Calls includes one of the most famous and oft-quoted lines in film history:

"We've traced the calls ... they're coming from inside the house"

Carol Kane plays a babysitter who is terrorized by a menacing voice that simply says "have you checked on the children?". You know what comes next. The caller was inside the house, and had already killed the kids hours earlier.

About ten minutes into the film, the killer was apprehended and sent to the loony bin, but that turned out to be merely the prelim. Many years later, when Mr Zagnut escapes from the nut hatch, he comes after Kane and her own children. 


female: none

male: Tony Beckley, as the killer, got naked while staring at himself in a mirror, or purifying, or something. Buns only.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1, as well as a full screen version

  • no significant features

As you can tell from the description, this flick was a predecessor of both the Halloween films and the "I Know What You Did ..." series. I found the beginning and the ending of this film to be very effective horror scenes, with some cuts and surprises that actually made me jump! You'll also be impressed to see such capable performers as Colleen Dewhurst and Charles Durning in this low budget genre film.

Why isn't it a more memorable film?

The middle of the picture is really saggy. I loved the two incidents when the killer taunted Kane - the first and last scene mentioned earlier - but everything in between was talky and rambling. 

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.8 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this is a C, a decent genre film.

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