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When a Stranger Calls (1979)

6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 5,211 users  
Reviews: 105 user | 47 critic

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

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Title: When a Stranger Calls (1979)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Kirsten Larkin ...
William Boyett ...
Sgt. Sacker (as Bill Boyett)
...
...
Heetu ...
Houseboy
Rachel Roberts ...
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:

...Fear is the Message! 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:

When a Stranger Calls  »

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

This film would land Fred Walton the directors chair for the similarly-themed TV thriller 'I Saw What You Did' (1988). Both films are about young women menaced by a killer on the phone. 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

Stevie Lockart: Hi Mom!
Bianca Lockart: Hi Mommy!
Jill Johnson: Hi guys, look what the wind blew in. Play hard?
Stevie Lockart: Yeah.
Jill Johnson: Yeah? You hungry?
Stevie Lockart: Yeah.
Jill Johnson: What do you want for dinner?
Stevie Lockart: Hamburgers.
Jill Johnson: Hamburgers?
[to Bianca]
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Space Travellers (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Huelga En General
Performed by El Teatro Campesino
Courtesy of Menyah Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A Very Scary and Real Thriller
21 February 2004 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

Jill Johnson (Carol Kane) is babysitting two children, when a stranger insists calling her in the phone, asking her to see the children in the upper floor. She decides to telephone to the police, to trace the phone call. When the office on duty tells her that the call is from inside the house, Jill panics. Seven years later, the maniac escapes from the asylum and the private investigator John Clifford (Charles Durning) is hired by the father of the children to kill the man.

It is almost impossible to write a summary of this thriller without spoilers, so I have to stop here. A couple of days ago, I watched 'When a Strange Call Back', a type of sequel of this film. I was amazed with the beginning of the story, one of the most scary I have ever seen. Yesterday I decided to see 'When a Stranger Calls' and it is indeed a tense and suspenseful thriller. The situation through which Jill passes is amazingly real and scary. When the police officer tells Jill that the phone call is from inside the house, he heart of the viewer 'jumps'. This part is too frightening. The greatest problem in both movies is the continuation of the story seven years later (five in the sequel). It breaks the tension and the viewer gets completely lost about what happened to the characters. With a better sequence, this film certainly would be considered a classic. The story is excellent, and the performances are very realistic. In my opinion, the famous 'Scream' copied the introduction of this film. In Brazil, it was released on VHS only, and the quality of the image is not good. It deserves to be released on DVD. It is really worthwhile to watch this film. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): 'Mensageiro da Morte' ('Messenger of Death')


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