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When a Stranger Calls (1979)

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



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


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


Every babysitter's nightmare becomes real... See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

26 October 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

'n maniak belt op...  »

Box Office


$1,500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Fred Walton originally shot this film as a short entitled 'The Sitter', which was essentially the opening 20 minutes of 'When A Stranger Calls'. However after the huge success of Halloween (1978) Walton saw the potential of expanding the short into a full-length feature. The script was then expanded into a feature length film about the pursuit of villain Curt Duncan. See more »


In the final scene, Jill goes to her bedroom closet to see if Curt Duncan is in there. She is about to open the door with her left hand. In the next shot, she opens it with her right hand. See more »


John Clifford: You recognize this man?
[shows her Curt Duncan's photo]
Tracy: Why?
John Clifford: He's escaped from the insane asylum. 7 years ago he murdered two children, broke into the house and found them asleep in bed. There was a little boy, 4 and a half, and his little 3 year old sister. After the coroner's investigation, their bodies were taken to the mortuary where the undertaker took one look at them and said their bodies couldn't be reconstructed for the burial without 6 days of steady work. Then he asked what had been ...
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User Reviews

A sharp, unnerving chiller!
23 October 2008 | by (Brentwood, USA) – See all my reviews

Near-classic suspense film takes some inspiration from such classic horror movies as Black Christmas (1974) and Halloween (1978), and proves to be a worthy follower!

Lunatic terrorizes babysitter via telephone, now years later he is on the loose again. Will a private investigator be able to stop him before he reaches his earlier victim's family?

While the mid-portions of this film become a bit more of a crime-drama, the opening sequences and the grand finale are truly scary! Director Fred Walton builds atmosphere and extreme tension so well that even as we can guess the out come of a scene it's still terribly intense! Walton keeps the story intriguing through out, delivering some awesome moments of edge-of-your-seat suspense. Also adding nicely to the moodiness of this film is the eerie music of Dana Kapraff.

The cast is very good. The great Charles During does a solid job as the PI. Carol Kane is captivating as the babysitter turned victim. But perhaps best of all is the late Tony Beckley. Beckley makes for a completely scary madman, but oddly enough manages to create some sympathy for his character!

When a Stranger Calls is a too often over-looked thriller. For those seeking a film with some terrific suspense, it's an excellent choice!

Followed by a television sequel in 1993.

*** 1/2 out of ****

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