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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
Amusing gutter trash with a fantastic & memorable villain.
Writer / producer / director Robert Hammer delivers the sleaze in a big way in this, his sole fictional feature credit. Inspired by the real-life Hillside Strangler murders, it stars James Westmoreland ("Stacey") and Ben Frank ("Death Wish II") as two police detectives searching for a maniacal rapist-murderer, played to the hilt by the late, great character actor Nicholas Worth. Worth plays Kirk Smith, a photographer by trade who in between his depraved killings likes to phone a radio psychologist named Lindsay Gale (Flo Gerrish). Filmed largely guerrilla style in approximately 18 days, "Don't Answer the Phone" gets off to a great start; we're introduced to Smith right away, and then witness him knocking off a young nurse. The cast features some exquisitely sexy young ladies, including Playboy Playmate Pamela Jean Bryant, Susanne Severeid ("Van Nuys Blvd."), actress / composer Gail Jensen (writer of the theme to 'The Fall Guy'), Paula Warner, and Dale Kalberg. Appreciably, Hammer makes sure these ladies are unclothed or partially unclothed at some point. Trash film fans will also note the films' rather mean-spirited tone. Still, this wouldn't be nearly as effective as it is were it not for Worth, who's absolutely priceless, improvising some amazing monologues and coming up with the whole "Ramon" routine on his own. Westmoreland is a self-assured, macho lead and Frank very affable as his sidekick. The supporting cast has other recognizable actors such as Denise Galik ("Humanoids from the Deep"), Stan Haze ("Alligator"), Gary Allen ("Alice Sweet Alice"), and Chris Wallace ("New Year's Evil"); co-writer Michael Castle has a funny comedy relief role as an obnoxious lab man, and be sure to look out for the appearances by Don Lake as the man in plastic and Chuck "Porky" Mitchell as a pornographer. With a hilarious electronic score by Byron Allred of the Steve Miller Band on the soundtrack, this may play out with an accent on the sick and the sordid, but it does take the time out for some humour, such as the commotion that erupts in the massage parlour. The finale is enjoyably brutal stuff and culminates in what is far and away the best line in the whole thing. Overall, it's pretty enjoyable. Eight out of 10.
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