...Fear is the Message!

When A Stranger Calls
1979 | Color | 1 Hr 30 Min | Horror | R | Melvin Simon Production

Fred Walton

Steve Feke
Fred Walton

Carol Kane
Charles Durning
Rutanya Alda

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...

Holy shit the opening 20 minutes of When a Stranger Calls is brilliant and I can see why Wes Craven wrote his love letter Scream based on those first moments. The tension you feel comes off so strong thanks to Carol Kane who keeps you holding your breath the minute the phone rings! When a Stranger Calls is brilliant.

Fred Walton was no stranger to Thrillers dropping many great tiles onto us like April Fool's Day, The Rosary Murders, and of course, the sequel to this gem When A Stranger Call's Back He twists our minds and chill's us to the bone splashing When A Stranger Call's onto the big screen back in 1979 fresh off the heels of Halloween the year before. This was Walton's first major motion picture and also stars Walton's friend Tony Beckley who was terminally ill at the time but Walton refused to recast him. I feel this was a good direction not to sound rude but he looked creepy and gave you such chills and thoughts of stranger danger! In fact, Beckley was one of my favorite parts sadly passed away before the movie was released.

Ok so let us talk about the elephant in the room for just a moment, shall we? The middle of this movie drags it down to a grind. You get so pumped up by the opening minutes that when they need to fill the gap, the story begins to fall apart. This is although Beckley's chance to shine and he really does it just takes to long to get there. And while being chased around by Charles Durning as an overweight cop does not help the plot. And sadly the Thriller has now become a Drama. Oh and yeah Durning also did the Muppet Movie in 79 and that was awesome too.

Thankfully the thrills and chills make it back for the closing minutes and when the lights come back up we get to walk away from a fantastic little Thriller that will stick in my mind for a long time to come. If you have not seen When a Stranger Call's or it has been a few years it is worth the visit even if you stop at the twenty-minute mark and call it a day. The movie looks good feels good and well Carol Kane looks good too so it must be good, right?

4 Bloody Brains out of 5

A special thanks to Shock Waves podcast for always talking about this one I'm glad I picked it up.


  1. I remember re-watching this about 10 years ago, just remembering the opening scare and edge-of-your-seat-ness of it all. I had totally blocked out the rest of the film and was so shocked by how sluggish it gets. It does end well, but yeah - talk about a change of pace. But the opening part is so great, it will retain its legendary status forever. By the way, did you ever see the sequel Kane and Durning did? It was a TV movie, I believe, in the 90s.

    1. It's in my que on Amazon I heard it's a little better so I will definitely check it out.

    2. It is more of one story, I guess, where this one is like two stories. Not sure if you have read anything about the sequel. If not, don't. Go in unaware.


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