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Much more of a gap between the invention of the telephone and this movie, and the invention of the television and the movie Murder By Television, for some reason.....
I saw the cut version of this, which was still rated R surprisingly, despite there being no nudity, just a couple of not-too-bad cuss words, and some deaths that weren't too terribly horrific. This could hardly get anything worse than a PG-13 rating today. I'd be curious what was cut from the movie.
Anyway, a young woman answers a phone ringing in a subway station. Strange sounds come from the phone, and she begins having a seizure of sorts, blood drips from her eyes, and then she is forcefully blown away from the phone, while the receiver ignites in flames.
The young woman was a former student of Richard Chamberlain's character, an
environmental science professor, I think. Her father asks him to investigate her death, which he was told was a heart attack. Chamberlain learns about the phone from a bag lady, and gets some help from a woman painting a mural at the phone company's headquarters. Meanwhile, other people keep dying the same way.
One of the most amusing moments for me was when John Houseman's character drawled "I've earned it." Houseman had done some famous commercials for Smith-Barney saying "They earned money the old-fashioned way: they earned it" - with that same pronunciation. I don't know which came first, the commercials or this movie (I'd guess the former).
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