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When a Stranger Calls

Thanks to a fine cast, a rich and atmospheric score by Dana Kaproff, and astute direction by co-writer Fred Walton, Stranger is unquestionably a scary film. Bridging two distinct storylines, one the standard frightened babysitter alone in a dark house, and the other the subsequent manhunt for an escaped killer, script has chills a-plenty.

Thanks to a fine cast, a rich and atmospheric score by Dana Kaproff, and astute direction by co-writer Fred Walton, Stranger is unquestionably a scary film. Bridging two distinct storylines, one the standard frightened babysitter alone in a dark house, and the other the subsequent manhunt for an escaped killer, script has chills a-plenty.

But something seems lacking overall. By the film’s end, the deficiency seems clear – key actions and motivations just don’t make sense.

Carol Kane, who disappears for almost 70 of the film’s 97 minutes, is quite good as the terrified sitter who grows up to have the same chilling chain of events begin all over again.

More than anything else, When a Stranger Calls resembles a good, old-fashioned grade B thriller.

When a Stranger Calls

  • Production: Columbia/Simon-Krost. Director Fred Walton; Producer Doug Chapin, Steve Feke; Screenplay Steve Feke, Fred Walton; Camera Don Peterman; Editor Sam Vitale; Music Dana Kaproff; Art Director Elayne Barbara Ceder
  • Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1979. Running time: 97 MIN.
  • With: Carol Kane Charles Durning Colleen Dewhurst Tony Beckley Rachel Roberts Ron O'Neal
  • Music By: