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Murder by Phone (1982)

A disgruntled phone company employee develops a device whereby those answering a phone can be murdered, and it's up to Nat Bridger to stop the killer.


Michael Anderson


Michael Butler (screenplay), Dennis Shryack (screenplay) | 5 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Chamberlain ... Nat Bridger
John Houseman ... Stanley Markowitz
Sara Botsford ... Ridley Taylor
Robin Gammell ... Noah Clayton
Gary Reineke Gary Reineke ... Lt. Meara
Barry Morse ... Fred Waites
Alan Scarfe ... John Websole
James B. Douglas James B. Douglas ... Jack Gilsdorf
Ken Pogue ... Fil Thorner
Neil Munro Neil Munro ... Winters
Jefferson Mappin ... Photographer
Tom Butler ... Detective Tamblyn
Colin Fox ... Dr. Alderman
Luba Goy ... Beth Freemantle
Lenore Zann ... Connie Lawson


A disgruntled phone company employee develops a device whereby those answering a phone can be murdered, and it's up to Nat Bridger to stop the killer.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Reach Out - Reach Out and Kill Someone! (release titled "The Calling") See more »


R | See all certifications »






Release Date:

December 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hell's Bells See more »

Filming Locations:

Kleinburg, Ontario, Canada See more »


Box Office


CAD 5,600,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(re-edited American) | (video)

Sound Mix:



See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Known in the UK as Bells See more »


[last lines]
Nat Bridger: I'll call ya!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Pictures of telephones are displayed throughout the concluding credits, which finish with a telephone ringing. See more »

Alternate Versions

Murder by Phone is the title of the truncated US release. The original version was entitled Bells, and runs an additional 20 minutes. See more »

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User Reviews

"You telling me a telephone killed a girl?!"
8 October 2011 | by lost-in-limboSee all my reviews

Around this period slashers seemed to be in-craze, but coming out where some fairly oddball horror mysteries and the 1982 feature "Bells" just happened to be one of those gritty change of pace experiments. Also known as "Murder by Phone" under a re-edited version. The curiosity is waiting around for the killer's method of weapon. Ingenious, but laughable. Electrocution by phone. And boy do the victims get some air! While it might have that body count formula, instead of something rather primitive, it laced the plot with industrial conspiracies and scientific jargon as an environmentalist professor goes about investigating the deaths, despite no one really believing him when he thinks it's a phone killing people. It did come off being low-key and clever in spots (a cynical script), but this didn't stop it from being rather stilted (romance sub-plot) and at times silly. The problem lied in between the murders, as it wasn't as interesting or captivating like it should have been. Therefore the idea isn't really realised and uneven in its suspenseful build-ups. It was something you might read from a Michael Crichton novel, especially with his interest in technology getting out of control. Richard Chamberlain putting his game face on was sturdy in the lead role and was good support by a classy John Houseman. Sara Botsford feels secondary, but the cast also bestows Alan Scarfe, Barry Morse and a small part for Lenore Zann. Director Michael Anderson's durable handling is slow-grinding, letting the story unfold and atmosphere bubble with sweeping camera-work and John Barry's ominously edgy music score. Sterile, but resourcefully unique 80s horror mystery.

"If man is going to control his future. His got to learn to control his machinery."

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