A struggling bar singer takes a job as a phone-sex operator in order to make ends meet. One night she gets a call from a man who tricks her into listening while he murders a prostitute. ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Cory Wheeler (as Deborah Harry)
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Nick Ciccini
Paige French ...
Meg Wheeler
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Malcolm Henthoff
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Dana P. Ashley
...
Billy
Lee Wallace ...
Detective Bickner
Billy Vera ...
Ricardo
Ed Bernard ...
Captain Milliken
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...
Madame
Neal Israel ...
Herbie
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Cop #2
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Cop #3 (as E.J. Castillo)
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Cop #4
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Storyline

A struggling bar singer takes a job as a phone-sex operator in order to make ends meet. One night she gets a call from a man who tricks her into listening while he murders a prostitute. Then he tells her that he's going to kill her next. She goes to the police, but the detectives don't believe her. However, an ambitious uniformed cop does believe her, and together they try to track down the killer before he kills anyone else--including her. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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She just turned on the wrong guy!

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Rated R for sex-related dialogue, violence and sensuality. | See all certifications »
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15 November 1991 (USA)  »

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After Midnight  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is Deborah Harry's first and only lead in a movie. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[voiceover]
Ricardo: Ladies and gentlemen, the Tom Tom Club's own Mistress of Rock 'n' Roll, Cory Wheeler and A Few Good Men.
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Down Down Down
Music and Lyrics by Andras Jones
Performed by Mr. Jones and The Previous
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User Reviews

 
About Two-Thirds Works Pretty Good
16 April 2010 | by (New York, USA) – See all my reviews

Up until about the second song in the bar sung by Deborah Harry and a backing band that is certainly not Blondie, Allan Holzman's INTIMATE STRANGER works well enough even without the Blondie vanity project angle. I'm not sure if Allan or the writers were thinking of Italian Giallo thrillers when composing the film but I sure was when watching it. The one basic difference is that the identity of the film's maniac isn't kept a secret as he plays a game of phone tag with his targets that would serve such an important function for John Malkvovich's psycho from IN THE LINE OF FIRE, made a couple of years later.

We have your standard issue Giallo sleazy kink secret sex obsessed lifestyle angle (phone sex girl runs afoul of psychopath playing a game with her), the stylized camera work with lots of oblique diagonal angles, the use of cross media technologies, photography and recording devices as plot elements, steamy sex scenes photographed like advertisement art, the sordid unreality of the sex entertainment industry, brutal murders with bizarre killing methods, and the name brand sex symbol starlet to sell the package -- Instead of Mimsy Farmer, Evelyn Stewart or Erika Blanc its Deborah Harry, who had already made a sexualized horror thriller with David Cronenberg's VIDEODROME. She is older this time out and sadly chose to try and hide her figure beneath layers of Goth-punk fashions. She looks sexier when she's just being herself at 40 during some of the quieter scenes. I mean, she IS Blondie and all, something that is impossible to get around while watching the film, though that may have been the point. She is essentially just appearing as herself in the same way that Ms. Blanc et al were just being themselves, for the most part.

The film also gives us a very worthy psychopath in the form of ubiquitous B movie & TV actor Tim Thomerson's white haired, foul mouthed killer. He is just oily and unkempt enough to suggest that creepy record store manager who always seemed to slime you over & pry into your life when you were just looking for some new tunes. Grace Zabriskie has a fabulous little role as another one of his victims, acting circles around everybody else by just standing there rolling her eyes, with additional eye candy in the form of Tia Carrere and Paige French as Ms. Harry's sexy sister. The only casting flaw in the film is James Russo as the basic rogue cop type character who steps outside of the law to help the damsel in distress. He's fine during the action scenes but lacks the complexity of a Giallo anti-hero like Anthony Steffen, George Hilton, or Farley Granger with their "Seen It All" eyes.

Like a good Giallo the movie pays attention to its mystery solving angle via unorthodox methods as cop Russo works with Harry's phone sex girl & her hot sister to track down the phone sex killer on his spare time, naturally to the hostile disapproval of his superiors & fellow police officers who could care less even as the bodies pile up. All standard by the book formula material for such thrillers, he even gets kicked off the force at one point but the film had already moved on to its ridiculous climax, heralded in by the unlikely sight of Deborah Harry running around the streets holding a loaded handgun out in plain view like she was carrying her purse. Only in Los Angeles, maybe.

The less said of the big finish the better probably, though I will mention that it does involve Blondie actually shooting off a flamethrower, and you sort of have to admire the movie for having the nerve to be so absurd without flinching. The film felt under-written and somewhat lacking in focus as to what it wanted to say about its subject, which shouldn't be surprising given it was a Showtime cable feature produced for the small screen. Director Holzman -- a noted visualist with a background as an editor, as evident from the film's fast-cut flashback sequences -- even stages a scene lifted from BLADE RUNNER at one point for the hell of it, set in Blondie's cluttered, memento filled apartment that I didn't believe she lived in for one minute.

I also didn't believe she was a singer in that particular band, though Ms. Harry's screen presence is certainly fine for the role. She just needed a new backup group who didn't do their best to upstage her by looking painfully goofy. And she is convincingly burnt out + world-weary as one would expect from a sex industry worker, so jaded by her work that she can do her house chores while getting a client off over the phone. Which as others point out are the scenes when the film works best, getting to hear Blondie talk dirty in that husky, sensuous voice of hers. The rest of the movie is all filler material, though fortunately easy enough on the brain for such a production.

6/10: Soundtrack rights have no doubt kept this from being revived for the DVD era which is a shame. Blondie fans will want to dust off their VCRs and give it a look for sure, and old rental tapes can readily be found for a few dollars.


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