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When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)

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A young babysitter, all alone in the house with two children asleep above, is bothered by a stranger. Unfortunately, the phone's dead...


Fred Walton


Fred Walton, Steve Feke (based on characters created by) | 1 more credit »
1 win. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Carol Kane ... Jill Johnson
Charles Durning ... John Clifford
Jill Schoelen ... Julia Jenz
Gene Lythgow ... William Landis
Karen Elizabeth Austin Karen Elizabeth Austin ... Skid Row Woman (as Karen Austin)
Babs Chula ... Agent
John Destry John Destry ... Detective 1 (as John Blackwell Destry)
Duncan Fraser ... Club Owner
Jenn Griffin ... Club Girl 1 (as Jennifer Griffin)
Gary Jones ... X-Ray Technician
Terence Kelly ... Medical Examiner
Michèle Lonsdale Smith ... Center Woman 1 (as Michele Lonsdale-Smith)
Kevin McNulty ... Dr. Schifrin
Sheelah Megill Sheelah Megill ... Center Woman 2 (as Sheelagh Megill)
Rebeccah Mullen Rebeccah Mullen ... Club Girl 2 (as Rebecca Mullen)


Julia is babysitting two young kids while a doctor and his wife are out. During the evening, a stranger knocks on the door asking Julia if she can call the auto club so he can get a tow. The phone line is dead though. This is all part of the act as he has made his way inside and abducted the two children. Years later, Julia has become an introvertive college student. She claims the stalker is back haunting her. Enter Jill Johnson and now retired cop John Clifford, who have reunited to help Julia find the stalker. Can they stop him before he strikes again? Written by Pat McCurry <ccgrad97@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Before there was "Scream," there was... the stranger.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for terror/violence, and for some nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



Canada | USA



Release Date:

4 April 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

When a Stranger Calls 2 See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


One of many B-movies from the 80s/90s riffed by Rifftrax--the guys from MST3K; Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett and Mike Nelson. See more »


Its stated that Julia was asked at the last minute to babysit. If so, why did Landis have the whole scenario planned for that night? He would not know she was going to be there. See more »


Jill: [while teaching a self-defense class] Situations do arise where there is no-one around to help you and you have to defend yourself by whatever means necessary. You cannot say that you'd don't believe in violence unless you also say you don't believe in living.
See more »

Crazy Credits

"No one can see me now. No one hears me. I am invisible." For Tony Beckley See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Just Hang Up
13 June 2004 | by sol-kaySee all my reviews

****SPOILERS**** There's a really gripping and terrifying half hour or so opening of the movie "When a stranger calls back" where Julia, Jill Schoelen, is trapped inside the house that she's baby-sitting in by some unseen psycho, who's playing a sick cat and mouse game with her. The sicko then ends up kidnapping the two children that Julia was baby-sitting and disappears into the night never to be seen or heard of again until some five years later when Julia is attending collage.

The madman for some reason known only to himself resurfaces and starts again to terrify Julia, in showing her that he's still around and watching her, by leaving clues like moving thing around in her off-campus apartment and driving, the already very emotionally disturbed,Julia almost out of her mind. Carol Kane, Jill, and Charles Durning,John Clifford, who were in the original "When a Stranger Calls" repeat their roles in this sequel. The two are so unnatural and artificial as well as perplexing to those of us watching the movie, who haven't seen the original film, without knowing about their previous involvement in the story that they only hamper the plot, instead of explain it, to the already very confused audience. If you never saw the first "When a stranger calls" you would wonder just why they were so prominent here in the first place? A flash-back of Jill & John Clifford in the original film inserted into the movie would have greatly helped but for some reason it wasn't done.

John somehow finds out who the psycho is, a person who's introduced by John to us watching the movie as a Mr. Landis, who's doing a ventriloquist act in some nightclub in the city. Landis doing his act, in black-face, at the club in what has to be one of the most puzzling as well as outrages scenes ever put on film. Having a dummy without a mouth, much less a face, Landis gives this pseudo-philosophical BS monologue about the facelessness of the humanity of the people in the audience. He then goes on telling the audience how that what they want to look like is not what their really like? Ladis just keeps on trash-talking and annoying as well as instigating the people in the club that the club manager has to throw him out of the place before the people watching him storm the stage and end up beating or even killing him.

John looking for Landis in a back-alley behind the nightclub tells him what a great act he has, what was John drinking at the time, and wants to talk to him about it only to have Landis take off and run away. We've seen Landis before in the hospital room where Julia was ,after she or someone else shot her in the head, as he just materialized out of nowhere. He's then seen for some reason beating on Julia's unconscious body so hard as if he hit her one more time he would have broke her in half.

John finds out the hotel where Landis is staying and is told by one of the people there that he came to the city to tell some woman that her children are dead which makes no sense at all since it's never explained to us why he did that. John also finds a number of photos in Landis' now deserted room of Julia both dressed and undressed in her hospital room taken by him.

The movie ends with Landis hiding out in Jill's loft apartment disguised as the apartments woodwork and masonry as he tries to kill her. Landis instead only comes across looking like a jerk as he messes up and ends up getting shot and killed himself by John who comes to Jill's rescue in just the nick of time. We were never really told in the movie just what were the reasons for Landis to terrorize and try to murder both Julia and Jill? did they do something to hurt him in the past? The ending of the movie which should have explained all this, just who Landis was and why he do what he did, explained nothing about this very troubled and dangerous individual and just left you even more bewildered then you were when you were watching the film.

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