18 December 2014

When a Stranger Calls (1979)
97 min.
Directed by Fred Walton.
With Carol Kane, Charles Durning, Colleen Dewhurst, Tony Beckley, Rachel Roberts, Ron O'Neal, Carmen Argenziano, Rutanya Alda.
A stellar first twenty minutes anchors this exceptional thriller.

Jill Johnson (Kane) is a high school teenager who settles down for an uneventful night of babysitting. With the kids tucked away upstairs asleep, she decides to spend some time studying.

But suddenly she begins to be taunted by a series of phone calls from an anonymous weirdo, asking her if she's "checked the children?"

It's just a harmless prank caller, right? The children couldn't possibly be in danger?

We're not telling.

But we will say, there are few things scarier than getting threatening phone calls - and those calls being traced back to the same house one's in!

Although not a new concept - a similar theme prevails in Bob Clark's Black Christmas (1974) - the terrifying plot device is most closely associated with this film.

Quirky actress Carol Kane is very good as the young babysitter at the beginning of the film and as the older near-victim during the last half hour.

A terrific opening and ending - and a watchable middle involving the search for the killer - make When a Stranger Calls a must see.

Remade in 2006.

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