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The Fantasist (1986)

R | | Thriller | August 1986 (UK)
When an Irish woman moves from the suburbs to Dublin, she begins receiving phone calls from a stranger. Coincidentally, the city is being plagued by a serial killer who uses this method to ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Patricia Teeling (as Moira Harris)
Inspector McMyler
Danny Sullivan
Robert Foxley
Mick Lally ...
Uncle Lar
Bairbre Ní Chaoimh ...
Monica Quigley (as Bairbre Ni Chaoimh)
Jim Bartley ...
Hugh Teeling (as James Bartley)
Fionnuala Sullivan
Liam O'Callaghan ...
Ronan Wilmot ...
Patricia's Father
May Giles ...
Patricia's Mother
Se Ledwidge ...
Patsy Teeling
Gabrielle Reidy ...
Kathy O'Malley
Agnes Bernelle ...
Mrs. O'Malley
Seamus Forde ...
Mr. Mullally


When an Irish woman moves from the suburbs to Dublin, she begins receiving phone calls from a stranger. Coincidentally, the city is being plagued by a serial killer who uses this method to lure his victims in. Even though she is aware of this, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to this man. Will she be the next victim of the "Phone Call Killer"? Written by Richard Santoro

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




R | See all certifications »





Release Date:

August 1986 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A titokzatos telefonáló  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Cyril Cusack was booked to appear but dropped out shortly before filming. See more »


[last lines]
Patricia Teeling: Man overboard!
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User Reviews

Only a fantasist would consider this great cinema
15 November 2009 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Director Robin Hardy's reputation rests almost exclusively on his 1973 cult classic, The Wicker Man. On the evidence of this, there it should stay. Wicker fans whose curiosity has been pricked should step quickly over The Fantasist as if it were a polystyrene pebble, for it holds no weight and will do them no good.

Overgrown Catholic schoolgirl Patricia Teeling (Harris) takes on a teaching post in Dublin, against the misgivings of her suburban relatives. "We don't want you picking up their city ways up there!" Her vocation coincides with a series of murders, perpetrated on young women by a nuisance caller with an especially mellifluous delivery, and who possibly supplements his income penning homilies for Hallmark greeting cards. "I'm the light in your jade green eyes where the sun bursts through and turns our stone grey city into gold. I am the melting feeling in your tummy when you hear music so sublimely beautiful you want to cry." If his poetry (which makes the average Vogon's efforts seem like TS Eliot) doesn't polish them off, the old knife-between-the-shoulder-blades trick certainly will.

"The man of my dreams is an imaginative rock," Patricia tells her flatmate, and soon attracts three unsuitable suitors, one of whom might be the killer. Could it be beardy weirdy English master Robert Foxley (Kavanagh)? He gargles wine loudly in restaurants. Plus, he's got a silly beard. In fact, he looks just like one of those upside-down faces in optical illusion books. And his romantic small talk consists of stuff like "I knew you'd make a good mother, Patricia." That's not good.

Love interest number two is her downstairs neighbour, the nervy American writer Danny Sullivan (Bottoms). He's married, so he's not a great catch. He also does a neat line in dirty phone calls in funny voices (to his wife, he claims). Then again, his wife is shortly bound for the chop. However, this doesn't stop our Pat hiding coins down her knickers so he can divine them with his rod (no euphemism intended). "I guess I just trust him," this latter-day Little Red Riding Hood tells suitor number three, Christopher Cazenove's Inspector McMyler, who keeps blown-up photos of the victims in his cottage, and wants to photograph Pat in the nude. Casual viewers will have figured out by now that Patty isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer.

This is a very silly film indeed; featuring grating overacting and a grating 1980s soundtrack, all tourist board Gaelic flutes and stabbing synths. Level 42 even make a cameo appearance performing the cheesiest white-funk since... well, Level 42 really are in a class of their own.

Lacking a playwright of Anthony Shaffer's stature, the dialogue's in dire need of an editor (sample line: "Death tries its best to rival procrastination as a thief of time"). The cinematography's functional at best, while scenes cutting between the slaughter of a victim and the carving of a roast merely underscore the clunkiness.

Most depressingly (in Hardy's hands) the film also panders to Vatican-friendly genre cliché, with Patricia's potential fate prompted through her burgeoning sexual liberation. Contrast this with the subversive Wicker Man, in which sex is portrayed as a guilt-free, joyous affair through which the protagonist could have saved himself, if only he'd actually had it.

Here, the one fleetingly erotic scene is deftly undermined by the killer merrily using Patricia's bare buttocks as a pair of bongos. What a symphony he could have produced with Willow MacGregor, the landlord's daughter in The Wicker Man!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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