6.5/10
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130 user 72 critic

When a Stranger Calls (1979)

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

Director:

Fred Walton
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

During an evening of babysitting, high-school student Jill Johnson is terrorized by a caller who keeps asking "Have you checked the children lately?" When she calls the police, they inform her that the calls are coming from inside the house. Written by Betsy Bloomley <betsybloom@juno.com>

Plot Summary | Plot 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:

When a Stranger Calls See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$21,411,158

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$21,411,158
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tony Beckley, who played the psychotic British killer Curt Duncan, was said to be high strung and sensitive during shooting. He had become fascinated with Carol Kane and was fixated on her talent, to the point that he wound up having a nervous breakdown on the set; he felt so nervous and inadequate. Director Fred Walton was unable to fix the situation, but Colleen Dewhurst was. Beckley complained to her that Kane was "so talented". Dewhurst replied "yeah, but we're better!". And that fixed it for Beckley, and he was no longer intimidated. 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: Lets get something straight here, Doctor. I've been 33 years in the business of tracking people down and putting them away... spent almost a year alone on the case of Curt Duncan with the trial and the testimonies and the background investigations. Now, I didn't come here today to look in your God damn folders, in fact I probably wouldn't be here at all if you had done your job right.
Dr. Monk: This is a hospital, Mr. Clifford, not a penitentiary. Everything appertaining to one of our patients is ...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in DVD-R Hell: Too Smart for Strangers (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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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