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When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)

TV Movie  |  R  |   |  Horror, Thriller  |  4 April 1993 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 1,742 users  
Reviews: 50 user | 13 critic

A young babysitter, all alone in the house with two children asleep above, is bothered by a stranger. Unfortunately, the phone's dead...



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Julia Jenz
Gene Lythgow ...
William Landis
Karen Elizabeth Austin ...
Skid Row Woman (as Karen Austin)
Babs Chula ...
John B. Destry ...
Detective 1 (as John Blackwell Destry)
Club Owner
Jenn Griffin ...
Club Girl 1 (as Jennifer Griffin)
X-Ray Technician
Terence Kelly ...
Medical Examiner
Center Woman 1 (as Michele Lonsdale-Smith)
Sheelah Megill ...
Center Woman 2 (as Sheelagh Megill)
Rebecca Mullen ...
Club Girl 2


Julia is babysitting two young kids while a doctor and his wife are out. During the evening, a stranger knocks on the door asking Julia if she can call the auto club so he can get a tow. The phone line is dead though. This is all part of the act as he has made his way inside and abducted the two children. Years later, Julia has become an introvertive college student. She claims the stalker is back haunting her. Enter Jill Johnson and now retired cop John Clifford, who have reunited to help Julia find the stalker. Can they stop him before he strikes again? Written by Pat McCurry <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Before there was "Scream," there was... the stranger.


Horror | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for terror/violence, and for some nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

4 April 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

When a Stranger Calls 2  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film was dedicated to actor Tony Beckley who played the villain in the original When a Stranger Calls (1979). See more »


Its stated that Julia was asked at the last minute to babysit. If so, why did Landis have the whole scenario planned for that night? He would not know she was going to be there. See more »


Julia: Someone has been in my apartment and they've done things, little things, to let me know that he's there.
See more »

Crazy Credits

"No one can see me now. No one hears me. I am invisible." For Tony Beckley See more »


Follows When a Stranger Calls (1979) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

One of the Best Chillers
25 May 2000 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I don't understand how this movie has been rated a mere four-point-something (as of May, 2000) on the IMDb. I assume it's because there are people out there who detest to be frightened and are stupid enough to use this criteria to rate horror films. Blah with them.

To me, this is one the most chilling, frightening films I have ever seen and, being a horror film fan, I can safely say that I have probably seen more horror films than most people. (Note: I am also discriminating about horror films and don't think they are all equally great.)

Clearly, I am not alone in the belief that this is an excellent movie because the opening scene in "Scream" is obviously based on the opening set piece in this one, as well as on a similar scene in "When a Stranger Calls". There are differences between the "Scream" and "WASCB" scenes, though, and the main difference is that "Scream" ingeniously interlaces humor and shock while "WASCB" goes for relentless mounting tension, with its main goal to creep the bejesus out of the audience, at which it thoroughly succeeds.

"When a Stranger Calls Back" is a little gem and Fred Walton is one of the few directors who truly understand how to build and sustain tension. He proved it in the terrific "When a Stranger Calls" and, later, in excellent TV movies like "I Saw What You Did" and "Murder in Paradise". Here as in some of his other projects, Walton shows a knack for letting the fright build on the merits of the story and its twists, for letting the viewers know that something horrible is about to happen and playing with their expectations of when, how and to whom. Usually, what happens is not what he's been telling you would happen, so the horror builds inside your head and, as we know, that's the best kind. It's not graphic, it's worse, it's in your thoughts and it usually lingers there, like cobwebs...

I have shown the DVD of "WASCB" to many friends, including people who are not particularly keen on horror movies, and they all agree that it's an excellent, very scary film. Don't pay attention to those who put it down and try it. And if you can, watch it at night, when it's quiet out there and the lights are out and the kids are asleep.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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