When A Stranger Calls

When A Stranger Calls (1979)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Carol Kane, Charles Durning, Colleen Dewhurst, Tony Beckley
Extras: Bonus Trailers

If you ever wanted to see, which movie ’Scary Movie’ spoofed in its opening sequence with Drew Barrymore on the phone, here it finally is on DVD, courtesy of Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment – ’When A Stranger Calls.’

Threatened and terrified by incessant phone calls, a young high-school student (Carol Kane) is facing a nightmare as a babysitter, that never seems to end. Driven into terror by the anonymous caller who seems to see and know everything, Jill is tormented and shattered, until police officer John Clifford (Charles Durning) is brought in on the case and puts an end to it. But seven years later, suddenly the call return and with it the madman!

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment is bringing us this 1979 horror film in an anamorphic widescreen presentation, as well as an open matte fullframe transfer. The age of the movie is immediately evident, as the film stock is very grainy and muted, and blemishes in the print are abundant. Overall the image has a very dark look with dark, muted colors and soft edges, all of which is part of the movie’s original art direction. Colors are mostly stable, but occasional color shifts are visible. Some slight edge-enhancement is visible in the transfer and occasionally pixelation artifacts are present despite the fact that a fairly good bitrate was used for the video stream.

The audio on the disc is the movie’s original monaural track – here in English and French – complete with subtitles in English, French and Spanish. Once again, the presentation shows its age with a limited frequency response and dialogue recording that is coming across as harsh and dynamically limited. Sibilance is audible on rare occasions, but for the most part, the audio presentation is sufficient. Apart from a few bonus trailers no extras are found on this DVD.

Following on the heels of the success of John Carpenter’s ’Halloween’ one year earlier, ’When A Stranger Calls,’ is a competent horror thriller, albeit not overly original. It is well put together and has quite a number of suspenseful moments of terror.