6.5/10
7,978
119 user 67 critic

When a Stranger Calls (1979)

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

Director:

Fred Walton

On Disc

at Amazon

1 win. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

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
Edit

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 »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 October 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Grauen kommt um Zehn See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$21,411,158
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Melvin Simon Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Wes Craven was a fan of this film, particularly because of the iconic opening 20 minutes, and paid tribute to this film in the opening 12 minutes of his teen slasher flick Scream (1996). See more »

Goofs

Although it is most certainly not the actor's (Tony Beckley's) fault because he was terminally ill during production, the killer Curt Duncan looks far too physically frail to have realistically torn two children apart with his bare hands. See more »

Quotes

John Clifford: [to Tracy, about Curt's murders] After the coroner's investigation the bodies were taken to the mortuary where the undertaker took one look at them and said their bodies couldn't be reconstructed for the burial without six days of steady work. Then he asked what had been the murder weapon, because looking at the mess in front of him he couldn't imagine what had been used. The coroner told him there had been no murder weapon. The killer had used only his hands.
See more »


Soundtracks

Huelga En General
Performed by El Teatro Campesino
Courtesy of Menyah Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
A Very Scary and Real Thriller
21 February 2004 | by claudio_carvalhoSee all my reviews

Jill Johnson (Carol Kane) is babysitting two children, when a stranger insists calling her in the phone, asking her to see the children in the upper floor. She decides to telephone to the police, to trace the phone call. When the office on duty tells her that the call is from inside the house, Jill panics. Seven years later, the maniac escapes from the asylum and the private investigator John Clifford (Charles Durning) is hired by the father of the children to kill the man.

It is almost impossible to write a summary of this thriller without spoilers, so I have to stop here. A couple of days ago, I watched 'When a Strange Call Back', a type of sequel of this film. I was amazed with the beginning of the story, one of the most scary I have ever seen. Yesterday I decided to see 'When a Stranger Calls' and it is indeed a tense and suspenseful thriller. The situation through which Jill passes is amazingly real and scary. When the police officer tells Jill that the phone call is from inside the house, he heart of the viewer 'jumps'. This part is too frightening. The greatest problem in both movies is the continuation of the story seven years later (five in the sequel). It breaks the tension and the viewer gets completely lost about what happened to the characters. With a better sequence, this film certainly would be considered a classic. The story is excellent, and the performances are very realistic. In my opinion, the famous 'Scream' copied the introduction of this film. In Brazil, it was released on VHS only, and the quality of the image is not good. It deserves to be released on DVD. It is really worthwhile to watch this film. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): 'Mensageiro da Morte' ('Messenger of Death')


22 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 119 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Comedy Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular comedy titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed