*ThrowBack* When a Stranger Calls
I wanted to find something cool to bring to you for Halloween. So I found this old-school horror and gave it a go! When a Stranger Calls falls off the traditional story The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs.
The first time I heard the story was around a campfire when I was a girl scout so the story’s been around for a while but if you’ve never heard of it here it goes: One night while babysitting a young teenager gets a creepy phone call asking her if she’s checked on the children who are supposedly sleeping upstairs. Thinking it’s a prank the teenager ignores the call. But when the terrifying calls continue over and over again she finally calls the police who decide to trace her next phone call. After the mysterious caller calls her again asking if she’s again checked on the children she gets a call back from the police who inform her that the call is coming from inside the house!
That’s it that’s the story. Or that’s the campfire story anyway. With this spooky feature, we have Carol Kane (Scrooged, The Princess Bride, The Muppet Movie) playing the babysitter Jill Johnson and the Man Upstairs is Curt Duncan played by Tony Beckley (Gold, Beware my Brethren, The Italian Job *1969). When a Stanger Calls continues the known spooky tale with the police catching and arresting Curt Duncan before he can lay a hand on the babysitter. Unfortunately, the children Jill was babysitting aren’t so lucky and Curt is placed in a mental institute for their murders. Seven years later Curt breaks free and begins terrorizing again as the detective played by William Boyett (Newsies *1992, Turner & Hooch, Space Riders) who first put him away follows hot on his trail. However Curt has some unfinished business with Jill who is now a mother of her own. And before he’s caught again he aims to pay her another visit. But not without a courtesy call to check on the children of course.
The campfire story ends just when the babysitter finds out that the caller is in the house and just as the man upstairs is coming down to greet the babysitter so, really, this movie could have went anywhere with this. And I have to say, I’m pretty disappointed with the direction they went. Oh, yeah it starts off great. The phone calls Curt makes to Jill while she’s babysitting are tense and creepy. The sound of a dial tone, the scratchy voice on the end of the receiver the perfectly placed shots of a dark house all alone. They make up the best minutes of the movie. But it’s the first thirty minutes and then after that, we’re in for a really slow ride as the detective chases after Curt. When Curt first escapes the first person he terrorizes is some random lady in a bar. Sure his sudden obsession is creepy enough to fill you with a sense of dread but it’s suuuper random. More than anything it feels like a time filler until Curt is ready for the grand finale with Jill again. That being said that finale picks up the pace for the movie again but by then it’s kind of lost its edge because we just watched Curt chase this random woman around while the detective chased him around. The scariest part was the beginning after that well…let’s just say a ton of stuff should have been done differently.
Rated R for brief nudity and a bloody scene or two. Nothing too bad.
Rotten Tomatoes has this old time Horror flick at a 31% rotten. There was so much potential there!
Sorry horror lovers I really wanted to find some good old fashion scares for you but you will find none here. Apparently, the 2006 remake of this movie did even worse at a 6% rotten. Ouch. If you’re a fan of the Urban Legend then, by all means, pick it up. But after those first thirty minutes, I promise you’ll regret it. I guess we’ll have to find our scares elsewhere this Halloween.