Review: When a Stranger Calls

Blu-ray: When a Stranger Calls (1979) 

“Have you checked the children?”

Those chilling 5 words resonate throughout When a Stranger Calls, and indeed also through When A Stranger Calls Back and the short film The Sitter (both of which are included on this fantastic limited edition release from Second Sight Films).

Jill Johnson (Carol Cane) is on a routine babysitting job when the first of a series of phone calls changes her life forever. A mysterious voice asks if she has checked the children, and when the calls don’t stop she contacts the police who manage to trace the call and tell her that…it’s coming from inside the house that she is in!

So begins a game of ‘cat and mouse’ as the stranger toys with Jill’s fragile emotions, before a shocking end to this particular part of the narrative.

Cut to 7 years later and the sadistic stalker has escaped from a psychiatric hospital and is once again targeting Jill, who is now aided by John Clifford (Charles Durning); the cop who helped her 7 years previously and is now a private detective.

Can they work together to catch this person before more lives are taken?

The claustrophobic setting of the beginning sequence in the house adds to the tension as Jill tries desperately to find out who and where this stranger is. All the while knowing that she is responsible for the safety of the innocent children in her charge.

Light on blood but high on brooding atmosphere, When a Stranger Calls is one of those movies that has you mentally checking that you’ve locked the doors and shut the windows while watching it. Tiny slivers of darkness through a barely open living room door suddenly seem to have shifting movements in them, while the usual creaks and groans of your home take on a whole new sound as you swear that it was a footstep.

Director Fred Walton cranks up the tension with subtle camera moves whereby you’re never really sure if or when something, or somebody, will be revealed from within the shadows.

With such a strong first act, the movie does tend to sag a little in the middle. However, it soon picks up again for a nail biting finale.

Released on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK, the movie looks as good as it has ever done. This limited edition release features the TV movie sequel ‘When a Stranger Calls Back’, which sees Carol Cane and Charles Durning returning as Jill and John, and is arguably even better than the original!

Add to this the short film ‘The Sitter’, new interviews, a soundtrack CD, a 40 page booklet and a reversible poster and sleeve, and you have a package that just screams to be snapped up immediately.

One to put on late at night with all the lights out…just pray that your phone doesn’t ring while you’re watching it!

Limited Edition Special Features:

  • Original Soundtrack CD
  • 40-page perfect bound booklet with new essay by Kevin Lyons
  • Reversible poster with new and original artwork
  • Rigid slipcase packaging
  • Brand new scan and restoration
  • The sequel ‘When a Stranger Calls Back’ in HD
  • The original, rarely seen short film ‘The Sitter’ -brand new scan and restoration
  • Directing ‘A Stranger’: An interview with Director Fred Walton
  • Carol Kane on ‘When a Stranger Calls’
  • Rutanya Alda on ‘When a Stranger Calls’
  • Scoring ‘A Stranger’: An interview with Composer Dana Kaproff
  • Reversible sleeve with new artwork by Obviously Creative and original poster artwork
  • English subtitles for the hearing impaired for both films

When a Stranger Calls will be released on 1th December 2018 and you can buy it buy clicking HERE. ALL money raised by purchasing from Amazon via our website is given back to our listeners and followers in upcoming competition prizes. The more people buy, the bigger our prizes.

Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Second Sight Films via Aim Publicity.