6.5/10
8,171
119 user 62 critic

When a Stranger Calls (1979)

A psychopathic killer terrorizes a babysitter, then returns seven years later to menace her again.

Director:

Fred Walton

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1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Carol Kane ... Jill Johnson
Rutanya Alda ... Mrs. Mandrakis
Carmen Argenziano ... Dr. Mandrakis
Kirsten Larkin Kirsten Larkin ... Nancy
William Boyett ... Sgt. Sacker (as Bill Boyett)
Charles Durning ... John Clifford
Ron O'Neal ... Lt. Charlie Garber
Heetu Heetu ... Houseboy
Rachel Roberts ... Dr. Monk
Tony Beckley ... Curt Duncan
Colleen Dewhurst ... Tracy
Michael Champion ... Bill
Joseph Reale Joseph Reale ... Bartender (as Joe Reale)
Ed Wright ... Retired Man
Louise Wright Louise Wright ... Retired Woman
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Storyline

High school student Jill Johnson is traumatized over an evening of babysitting by a caller who repeatedly asks, "Have you checked the children lately?" After notifying the police, Jill is told that the calls are coming from inside the house... Written by Betsy Bloomley <betsybloom@juno.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Terrifying Classic! See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 October 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cuando llama un extraño See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$21,411,158
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film stars the actresses Carol Kane and Colleen Dewhurst. The two share no scenes. The two actresses previously appeared in Annie Hall (1977), in which they also shared no scenes. See more »

Goofs

When Jill has a drink at the wet bar, the grandfather clock is visible in the shot, about a foot to the right of the bar. In all other shots the clock is about four to five feet from the bar, much closer to the hallway. See more »

Quotes

Sgt. Sacker: [On the phone] Is the house locked up?
Jill Johnson: [Panicking] Yes!
Sgt. Sacker: Well, then you're safe.
[Referring to Duncan]
Sgt. Sacker: If he wanted to break in, he wouldn't keep calling you.
Jill Johnson: [Extreme distress] Please, can't you help me? I'm all alone here!
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Soundtracks

Huelga En General
Performed by El Teatro Campesino
Courtesy of Menyah Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Have you checked the children?
23 October 2000 | by jhaggardjrSee all my reviews

"When a Stranger Calls" is a somewhat entertaining horror-suspense-thriller that starts off great, loses steam in the middle, then comes back for a good finish. The beginning of this movie is outstanding, with babysitter Carol Kane receiving obscene phone calls from an unknown maniac. This is far and away the best part of the film. It's scary, creepy, and downright eerie. But it doesn't sustain that level through the entire film. The mid-portion of the movie is rather dull, featuring a few lazy supporting performances. But "When a Stranger Calls" redeems itself with a nail-biting climax, even though the conclusion doesn't top the film's opening in terms of scariness. Carol Kane and Charles Durning are good in the roles of the terrified babysitter and the private detective searching for the killer when he's on the loose. "When a Stranger Calls" is not a great horror movie but a good one. And its better than the cable-made sequel that came out fourteen years later, "When a Stranger Calls Back".

*** (out of four)


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