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Thursday, October 17, 2013

When A Stranger Calls (1979)

A babysitter (Carol Kane) receives continuous phone calls from a stranger asking her if she's checked on the children. Alone (except for the sleeping children), she becomes quite frightened and phones the police for help. What happens next will traumatize her for years. Jump seven years later and the psychotic killer (Tony Beckley, who died shortly after the filming) has escaped from a mental asylum and a police detective (Charles Durning) on the original case is now a private investigator and is determined that history won't repeat itself. The first twenty minutes of this film are among the most intensely terrifying of "scary" movies. Anyone who's seen it will never forget those twenty minutes. Alas, those twenty minutes are so brilliant (Kane's fear is palpable) that the rest of the film simply can't measure up in quality and it never quite regains its momentum. But it still has it sporadic moments particularly in Colleen Dewhurst's performance as an aging barfly, one of her few good film roles. The creepily evocative score is by Dana Kaproff. Directed and co-written by Fred Walton based on his short film, THE SITTER. With Rachel Roberts, Ron O'Neal (SUPERFLY), Carmen Argenziano and Rutanya Alda.

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