Friday, April 20, 2012

Back to the 70s:When A Stranger Calls(1979)

By Eric Polk- blogger design. Let's see if this improves my reviews,lol. Suspense. I often tell newbies that even though they're are older, horror films from the distant past always seem to have more of what makes for a great terror cinema. It seems the directors, the writers, producers,etc. knew how to turn this by a single degree, one point at a time.

Rarely is this more evident than in the first twenty minutes of the original When A Stranger Calls. The story follows the conventions of the urban legend of a babysitter tormented by calls which she finds out....Well, let's not give too much away, gang.

This happens in the case of Jill Johnson. When the children she is in charge of are asleep, Jill receives a telephone call from a man who asks her if she has checked the children. At first, Jill dismisses the telephone calls as a practical joke; however, as the calls become more frequent and threatening, Jill becomes frightened and telephones the police, who promise that they would trace the call if Jill would keep him on the telephone line long enough. Jill, frightened to extreme measures, arms herself as she receives one final telephone call from the nefarious caller. Soon after her conversation with him, Jill receives a call from the police, only to find out that the stalker is calling from inside the house.

Soon, Officer John Clifford is then shown at the police investigation at which we are privy to a very gruesome discovery. From this point when we're told it's now seven years later until the last fifteen minutes or so, the movie unfortunately bogs down in a rather boring game of cat-and-mouse between him and the killer. Then, it picks up again with Jill Johnson is now an adult, married with two young children. One night, Jill and her husband Stephen go out to dinner in celebration of a promotion. A friend named Sharon babysits her children. She references that she saw Jill in the newspaper. Curt Duncan, the killer, happens to find the same newspaper in the city, and begins to look for Jill once again. While the couple is out, Jill gets a telephone call at the restaurant. Guess who????

The police arrive and escort Jill back home. John Clifford tries to telephone Jill, but gets no signal. Jill and Stephen sleep. Later, Jill goes down for a glass of milk, when the lights go out. She goes back upstairs and gets in bed once again. The closet door opens a little, and she hears the voice of Curt Duncan.

It's a damn shame this couldn't be a complete movie. You have a legendary opening scene, a pretty good climax and then you have the emptiness in the middle. It's almost as if you are watching two completely different films. I mean the killer is quite twisted, of course, but not very scary when you see him on screen. The protagonist is just plain boring. I could have cared less if he caught the killer or not.

If you've never seen this, I recommend watching the first twenty and last fifteen minutes of this. Trust me, you won't miss the middle at all!

1 comment:

Maynard Morrissey said...

I love this movie, even the stuff in the middle - and I'm also one of the few persons who even loves the remake. Yes, I'm kinda weird :)