6.5/10
7,917
119 user 66 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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A babysitter is menaced by mysterious and frightening phone calls.

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Stars: Lucia Stralser
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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:

...Fear is the Message! 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:

Das Grauen kommt um Zehn See more »

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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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In an interview for the film, Carol Kane stated that while watching the film in the theater that people were screaming and talking to the screen during the iconic opening 20 minutes. See more »

Goofs

Based on the year the film took place, 1 minute would not be nearly long enough to trace Curt's call. Back when the movie was set, it would've taken 10-20 minutes for several switchboards and circuits to locate the origin of the call. See more »

Quotes

Jill Johnson: [after Curt calls her at the restaurant] Curt Duncan! He's back! He has my BABIES!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Chicago Fire: When Things Got Rough (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Space Race
Performed by Billy Preston
Courtesy of A&M Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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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')


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