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When a Stranger Calls (1979)

6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 5,429 users  
Reviews: 106 user | 51 critic

A psychopathic killer terrorizes a babysitter, then returns seven years later to menace her again.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Kirsten Larkin ...
William Boyett ...
Sgt. Sacker (as Bill Boyett)
...
...
Heetu ...
Houseboy
...
Tony Beckley ...
...
...
Joseph Reale ...
Bartender (as Joe Reale)
Ed Wright ...
Retired Man
Louise Wright ...
Retired Woman
Edit

Storyline

High school student Jill Johnson is traumatized over an evening of babysitting by a caller who repeatedly asks, "Have you checked the children lately?" After notifying the police, Jill is told that the calls are coming from inside the house... Written by Betsy Bloomley <betsybloom@juno.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Terrifying Classic! See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 October 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

'n maniak belt op...  »

Box Office

Budget:

$740,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is based on the infamous babysitter-and-the-man-upstairs urban legend, which has been an element in several horror films but is most closely associated with this film. See more »

Goofs

When Jill has a drink at the wet bar, the grandfather clock is visible in the shot, about a foot to the right of the bar. In all other shots the clock is about four to five feet from the bar, much closer to the hallway. See more »

Quotes

John Clifford: Lets get something straight here, Doctor. I've been 33 years in the business of tracking people down and putting them away... spent almost a year alone on the case of Curt Duncan with the trial and the testimonies and the background investigations. Now, I didn't come here today to look in your God damn folders, in fact I probably wouldn't be here at all if you had done your job right.
Dr. Monk: This is a hospital, Mr. Clifford, not a penitentiary. Everything appertaining to one of our patients is ...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Parks and Recreation: Bowling for Votes (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Space Race
Performed by Billy Preston
Courtesy of A&M Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Shame about the middle part.
6 August 2005 | by (Beverley Hills, England) – See all my reviews

Going into When a Stranger Calls, I was expecting something alone the same lines as Black Christmas and Halloween, due to the film's relationship with those movies. I'm not a massive fan of either of those films, but I recognise Black Christmas as an important film for the genre, and if When a Stranger Calls turned out to be as good as that; I wouldn't be disappointed. It didn't turn out to be as good, however, as despite a great opening; the film never reaches any kind of high, and on the whole; this is just another slasher. The film starts out with a babysitter looking after someone's house. It isn't long after her employers have left that she starts receiving odd anonymous calls, and it isn't long after that before she discovers that the calls are coming from inside the house! It's the classic babysitter story, and if the film had stuck to this story for it's entire running time; I would have liked it a lot more. I realise that it would have been difficult to make a feature length film with just a girl, a house and a madman upstairs...but films have been made with less.

Instead of following the babysitter story, we are presented with a story taking place seven years later. The killer has escaped from a mental hospital and is now roaming the streets, with the detective from the original case on his tail. While this film never actually becomes boring, the chase plot never gives the audience enough tension or intrigue to keep interest levels high, and if it wasn't for the smart, but abrupt, ending; it would have been hard for me to write this review without calling the film a failure. In the beginning, the film has all the elements needed for a successful horror movie in place. It's got atmosphere, suspense and a plausible plot line, which is why I cant understand why the filmmakers would ditch this for the plot that they decided the movie should take. There is very little (if any) gore in the film, as it's obvious that the director preferred the 'Halloween' approach; but this doesn't work in the film's favour as this film isn't interesting enough to not have any gory sequences. On the whole; When a Stranger Calls has a good beginning and a good end. The middle part is wholly forgettable.


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