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E. Danny Murphy
A deeply disturbed photographer and Vietnam veteran, named Kirk Smith, terrorizes Los Angeles by going around strangling lingerie-clad young women in their homes while taunting Lindsay Gale, a young psychologist, by calling her on a radio call-in show to describe his sexual hang-ups and misogynistic ways, while a local police detective, Lt. McCable, is always two steps behind in trying to catch the psycho. Written by
I watched DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE as part of BCI Eclipse' Drive-in Cult Classics (featuring Crown International Pictures releases) on DVD. As I work my way through the multiple DVD sets, I am growing to love many of Crown International's movies -- especially, the creepy, erotic, psychological thrillers!
There is something about DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE it is my kind of horror movie!
Writer / producer / director Robert Hammer builds no suspense, since we know who the killer is.
He shows virtually no gore, as so much of the violence is off-screen.
Yet he still manages to deliver a powerful, creepy, sleazy and disturbing movie.
Nicholas Worth makes this movie as the depraved Vietnam veteran / "The Strangler."' Every scene with him is incredible to watch as he runs the emotional gamut. Physically, Worth could not have been better cast, as his physique helps persuade us that he is a bulky, menacing figure. Nevertheless, it also works when he shows us his "soft side" as a seemingly trustworthy Kurt Smith, photographer.
The electronic music is spot-on, for the times (remember, this is the late 70s early 80s); and, the pacing and tempo is perfect for moving the story forward.
Others may offer their vote for "Worst Performance" to James Westmoreland; but the fight scene at the end is brilliant; and, believable. Whatever else may be lacking in his portrayal of Detective McCabe, he and Worth do a credible job of showing us an "actual fight." Not the over-blown, steroid-injected fights of today's movies, with heroes and villains being thrown across the room. But a real, grunting, grinding, sweaty, struggle between two men bent on fulfilling their mission. That fight scene redeems his performance completely.
DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE typifies the exploitation / grind house genre.
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