4.9/10
1,659
59 user 70 critic

Don't Answer the Phone! (1980)

A deeply disturbed Vietnam veteran terrorizes the young women of Los Angeles and taunts a radio psychologist with descriptions of his grisly crimes.

Director:

Robert Hammer

Writers:

Robert Hammer (screenplay), Michael D. Castle (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Westmoreland ... Lt. Chris McCabe
Ben Frank ... Sgt. Hatcher
Flo Lawrence ... Dr. Lindsay Gale (as Flo Gerrish)
Nicholas Worth ... Kirk Smith
Denise Galik ... Lisa
Stan Haze ... Adkins
Gary Allen Gary Allen ... John Feldon
Michael D. Castle Michael D. Castle ... Lab Man (as Michael Castle)
Pamela Jean Bryant ... Sue Ellen (as Pamela Bryant)
Ted Chapman Ted Chapman ... Man in Bar
Chris Wallace Chris Wallace ... Psychic Von Hammensveld
Dale Kalberg ... Nurse
Deborah Leah Land Deborah Leah Land ... Police Woman
Tom Lasswell Tom Lasswell ... Police Psychiatrist
Mike Levine Mike Levine ... Gary Markov
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Storyline

A deeply disturbed photographer and Vietnam veteran, named Kirk Smith, terrorizes Los Angeles by going around strangling lingerie-clad young women in their homes while taunting Lindsay Gale, a young psychologist, by calling her on a radio call-in show to describe his sexual hang-ups and misogynistic ways, while a local police detective, Lt. McCable, is always two steps behind in trying to catch the psycho. Written by matt-282

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He'll Know You're Alone! See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Nicholas Worth consulted a criminal psychologist to research his role as the killer. Moreover, Worth improvised a lion's share of his dialogue. See more »

Goofs

The first blonde victim can clearly be seen to breathe after being strangled. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Lt. Chris McCabe: Adios creep!
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Crazy Credits

No music during end credits. See more »

Alternate Versions

The DVD release from Rhino Video is censored, with all nudity and graphic violence removed. The old VHS release on the Media Video label is the uncut version. See more »

Connections

References 'V': The Hot One (1978) See more »

User Reviews

 
Exploitation Lite.
27 July 2009 | by BA_HarrisonSee all my reviews

Snickering Vietnam vet Kirk Smith (Nicholas Worth) is one hell of a sicko: for a living, he shoots obscene pornographic photos, and in his spare time, he strangles pretty young women BEFORE raping them. LA detectives Lt. Chris McCabe (James Westmoreland) and Sgt. Hatcher (Ben Frank) are hot on the maniac's heels, but can they catch him before he kills his latest target, radio psychologist Dr. Lindsay Gale (Flo Lawrence)?

With such a sleazy premise, Don't Answer The Phone looks set to be a classic slice of extremely offensive exploitation, but with director Robert Hammer reluctant to go that extra mile to offend, the film falls short of the high (or should that be low?) standards set by his contemporary William Lustig, whose similarly themed film, Maniac, goes all out to shock the viewer.

Worth's character, Kirk Smith, is an undeniably repugnant fellow, and what he gets up to certainly ain't nice, but Hammer's approach to his patently sensationalist material is surprisingly cautious: whilst he doesn't mind showing the audience a little nudity (for example, all of the victims have their tops torn off before being choked to death), he doesn't quite seem to possess the cojonas necessary to present his sex and violence in the no-nonsense manner the genre demands.

Instead, his characters simply fill us in on the salacious details through conversation: a psychic gives a graphic account of the murder and rape of one girl, offering lurid tidbits of info about Kirk's modus operandi, and several characters pass comment on the particularly explicit nature of his photography. At the risk of sounding like a dangerous psycho myself, I ask 'Where's the really good stuff?'. A few throttlings and some tits only qualify this as exploitation lite!

To be fair, Don't Answer The Phone does manage to deliver a couple of scenes that almost make the grade—Kirk strangles a junkie hooker whilst she is live on air with Dr. Gale, and one topless victim is subjected to scalding by melted candle wax— but with too many other scenes pulling their punches, this film is most likely going to disappoint fans of degenerate cinema.

5.5 out of 10, generously rounded up to 6 for IMDb.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 February 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Hollywood Strangler See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Scorpion Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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