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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While most people claim that this belated sequel suffers in comparison to the overrated original, I really have to disagree. While the first half hour of the original was great, it was done in by an ill-conceived second act which introduced the creepy voice on the phone as a pathetic schlub, and thus greatly deflated the third act where the psycho comes after Carol Kane's own children. The first half a hour of this sequel was as good as the original, but Fred Walton seemed to have learned his lesson and kept his psychopath creepy and mysterious in the last two acts. The only serious misstep this movie makes is trying to shoe-horn the original Carol Kane and Charles Durning characters into the plot. (What are the chances that Carol Kane's Jill would become a counselor at a college where she would encounter someone who had been through almost the exact same ordeal that she had?) And, by the way, whatever happened to Jill Schoelen, the actress who plays Julie? She was the true heir to Jamie Lee Curtis's "scream queen" title, not Linnea Quigley or some other untalented, serial bra-popper, yet this is the last horror movie I remember her appearing in.
The headline above seems to sum up some of the other reviewers'
opinions of this film and I totally agree with them: I liked this
sequel better. I will always remember this film for the first 20-25
minutes which really scared me the first time I saw it. It gave me the
creeps, and always will if I don't watch it too often.
After that, the movie settles down, and the excitement leaves, but it still keeps you interested, picking back up again at the end with another suspense scene.
This is a "scare" movie - a sequel - that works although there are a few noticeable holes in the storyline. I liked the camera-work in here with the closeups of the door lock or the phone, the slowness of camera movement here and there to build suspense, etc. The ending, in which the killer blends into a wall, is very neat.
The main actors are interesting to watch and a main plus is the lack of profanity, especially surprising with Charles Durning in the film. The "R" rating had to be for a couple of topless waitress scenes.
Jill Schoelen gets third billing and she's the star of the movie. Carol Kane, the star of the first film: When A Stranger Calls, helps out on this case, too, and it's nice to see her again.
Before babysitters only had to worry if the phone rang, now they have to
fear a knock on the door as well!
I'm a big fan of the first film and when I found out there was a sequel a few years ago I just had to watch it. The problem was I couldn't find it. Once I did find it I was a bit cautious about renting it. Would it just be a carbon copy of the original? Well yes it is and no it isn't. The format is the same but the writer Fred Walton has done his best to throw in many original ideas.
For those who don't know, the story follows a babysitter who is tormented by a stranger one night while babysitting. Five years later she is tormented again. The police wonder, is it the same person or is she just seeking attention? It's hard to say, but Jill (Carol Kane) who experienced the same situation years before believes her.
There are some problems with the movie. John Clifford (Charles Durning) who investigates the mystery solves it pretty quickly and hunts down the stranger just as easily. Also, the movie doesn't tie up all of it's plot threads nicely, like why the stranger does what he does, but that's okay because it leaves the viewer something to discuss with friends. What strengthens the movie is the amount of suspense in it. Not only are the first 20 minutes of the movie very suspenseful but there are a couple of good moments within the movie and the ending is superb (if not a bit unlikely).
Most times a movie will advertise itself as being so scary that you shouldn't watch it alone. But in the case of When a Stranger Calls Back (and the original When a Stranger Calls) the movie is much scarier when watched alone and not very scary at all when watched with another person.
I really liked this movie and I highly recommended it if you like movies that scare through suspense rather then gore. This movie is a nice change of pace from your typical theatrical horror release (it was made for cable). When a Stranger Calls Back gets a 7 out of 10.
I don't understand how this movie has been rated a mere
(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
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I managed to get a DVD of this from the USA - it's not available anywhere
else. Picture and sound quality are superb - put on the DVD and play sound
through the hi-fi or home cinema at high volume !! Every sound will scare
you out of your wits. Continuous tension is maintained from beginning to end
and there are alternating periods of silence and violent sounds ( even a
door closing is frightening ). This means that throughout the film you are
in a state of continuous nervous tension, for this reason I don't think it
is recommended for those who have a weak heart!
My logical mind discerned a few holes in the plot and several things unexplained - what happened to the 2 children - why was this man persecuting her - how did Charles Durning manage to find the culprit so quickly - why did the baby sitter shoot herself of was it someone else etc etc........ This said, these considerations are secondary when you consider the principal aim of the film is to provide undiluted suspense to the viewer and to have him or her feeling edgy throughout !!
Also the ending is superb as is the disguise of the culprit. Ideally, one would have wished a slightly longer film which explained the character of the culprit a bit more and provided a clue to some of the "open" points listed above, but despite this, the film rates very highly with me. I have not yet seen the original film but after seeing this one, I'm going to doubtless enjoy that too.......in fact come to think of it I'm quite a fan of those films featuring burly American actors such as Charles Durning and Brian Dennehy ..............
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
WHEN A STRANGER CALLS BACK (1993)
starring: Carol Kane, Charles Durning, Jill Schoelen, Gene Lythgow.
plot: Fourteen years after they encountered a brutal serial killer, Jill Johnson (Carol Kane) and retired cop John Clifford (Charles Durning) try to help a paranoid college student named Julia Jenz (Jill Schoelen), who was stalked by a serial killer during babysitting five years before.
the good: This is much better than the first film, especially for a made for television sequel!
The opening scene is just as frightening, if not more, as the opening of the first film, with a young Schoelen babysitting children when she hears a voice outside claiming that his car broke down. The frightened babysitter discovers that the man is actually inside the house!
And that's not all, the middle holds up to the rest of the film by adding mystery, we know nothing about the killer, and we get to see the determined Kane and Durning try to track him down. All we know about the killer is that he is a ventriloquist who is good at throwing his voice.
The climax is also very suspenseful, where Carol Kane's character takes it into her own hands to battle the killer.
Much more original and suspenseful than the first, and a great suspense thriller on it's own!
I really enjoyed this film. It was was really suspenseful and scary, especially when he is bothering her through the front door...you never know where he is! I recommend this movie to everyone who likes thrillers. Not a horror movie, but scary none the less. The acting is very good..and with big stars..the film is hardly a flop. When the film starts it gets right to the point..starts right off with the babysitter going into the house where she is to watch the children for the night. as soon as the door closes you know something isn't right. You know this babysitter is NOT alone. A couple words of advice for babysitters...always check every lock in the house!
J Campolongo more or less says it all. Tension is kept tight throughout, Walton really knows how to squeeze every once of suspense out of these kind of films. There's a few great twists (one of the main characters is knocked out of the action half way through). Nice to see the original stars once again especially Carol Kane who gives it her best & wont take any of this "Shes just a mixed up kid" crap from the cops. Wipes the floor with the first one which people really only remember when you quote the line "The calls are coming from inside the house!" 9 out of 10
Better then the original in my opinion. This sequel picks up several
later after the events in the original. This time around Carol Kane and
Charles Durning team up together to help a babysitter (Jill Schoelen) who
being stalked by a maniac. Just like the first one, this entry has an
intense and scary start as well as an exciting finale, but unlike the
one this film's midsection is nowhere near as boring. Sure things slow
a bit, but the film is always interesting and has some rather original
Rated R; Violence, Nudity.
College student Juli Jenz(Jill Schoelen)underwent a traumatic incident with a psychotic killer(who uses the phone to terrorize),five years ago and now years later at college she's been getting some suspicious calls which lead her to believe the killer is back.When she contacts the police,they inform her that her original stalker is dead therefore she must be having flashbacks and refer her to a psychiatrist,instead of checking for physical evidence.Anyway,"When a Stranger Calls Back" works as TV produced remake of Fred Walton's 1979 classic "When a Stranger Calls".It has enough twists,turns and suspense to keep horror fans on the edge of their seats.The beginning is especially tense and memorable.There is no gore or strong violence and the killer's identity is kept secret through the film until the climax.The acting is great and the characters are well-developed.So if even casually enjoyed the original "When a Stranger Calls",then this film is must-see.7 out of 10.Check it out.
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