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Don't Answer the Phone! - BCI Eclipse/Deimos Entertainment Print E-mail
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Written by Jake Wells   
Wednesday, 07 July 2010
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AKA: The Hollywood Strangler, Não Atendas o Telefone, No respondas al teléfono, O strangalistis xerei oti eiste mones, Soitto murhaajalta, Todesschrei am Telefon

Directed by: Robert Hammer
Written by : Robert Hammer
Produced by: Robert Hammer
Edited by: Joseph Fineman
Music by: Byron Allred
Cast: James Westmoreland, Flo Gerrish, Ben Frank, Nicholas Worth
Year: 1980
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 94 Minutes

Distributer: Deimos Entertainment

There was a certain time period in which it was highly fashionable to include the word "Don't" at the beginning of your film title.  This didn't necessarily mean the movie had to have anything to do with what the title suggests, i.e. Don't Toture a Duckling and Don't Look in the Basement. Now, this particular film from 1980, Don't Answer the Phone! (note the attention grabbing exclamation point), DID have several phone calls placed within its runtime.  However, phone calls never really come across as the primary onset of the terror, which was the case with When a Stranger Calls, released a year prior.  Apparently, the working title for this film was The Hollywood Strangler, though "Don't" was an intriguing enough word to sell tickets.

It was the same year that saw the birth of another misogynistic serial killer -- Frank Zito (Maniac) which really goes to show that 1980 was a bad year to be a city gal!  The delusional strangler profiled in Don't Answer the Phone! can't hold a flame to the scalp-stealing, shotgun blasting, mannequin loving bastard child from William Lustig's classic psycho-study.  The killer here is still a cool, whacked-out Nam veteran but his nutty schtick got a little annoying at times.  I'm actually getting ahead of myself here...

Robert Hammer's single directorial effort here wastes no time nestling you into the warped mind of our star psychopath, as the first shot of the film shows Nicholas Worth ritualistically tying pantyhose around his neck in front of a Jesus statue.  The next scene is exactly what you want to see at the start of any serial killer film: a nurse coming home from a long day of work, removing her underwear before anything else, probably craving some white wine, talking briefly to her mother on the phone, and finally being viciously attacked from behind.  In my humble opinion, nothing grabs an audience more than a home invasion/rape!  It is then established in the very next transitional cut to our lone loony, cruising the streets of L.A. that the volatile madman has a strange compulsion to call into a radio show with an over-the-top accent.  From here on, the film shifts gears between the killer and a few determined homicide detectives who are trying their hardest to piece together clues and capture the elusive murderer.

Gorehounds will be disappointed with all of the strangling and all around bloodlessness, but T&A enthusiasts will be on-board with all that Don't Answer the Phone! has to offer.  Just about every female victim sheds her attire (or else the deed is dominantly carried out FOR her).  Plus, Nicholas Worth effectively brings an abundance of complexity and depth to his character, Kirk Smith, who isn't just a raving lunatic, but also a ego-maniacal religious fanatic-body-builder with daddy issues.  My only real gripe with the film was the excessive incorporation of the two detectives, who pad out the run-time with such needless scenes as the unamusing engagement of a psychic and the fortuitous 'bust' of a whorehouse.  There were just too many scenes that took me out of the movie and distracted from the business at hand.  Still, this is NOT a film to pass up!

BCI Eclipse and Deimos Entertainment put out a much needed DVD release of the film that had only been featured on a past Grindhouse double feature set along with Prime Evil (1988).  Here, BCI and Deimos give us "The Uncut Version" in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen ratio and 1.0 Mono sound.  Extras include an audio commentary track with writer/director/producer Robert Hammer and an interesting interview with star Nicholas Worth who describes his involvement in the film and how he strove to put his own 'spin' on the sadistic character.  There's also a still gallery, trailers, and a hidden easter egg to check out.

 RATING:
 VIDEO: 1 
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 AUDIO: 1 
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 DVD: 1 
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 MOVIE: 1 
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 DVD SPECS:
 Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 16.9 Anamorphic
 Region: NTSC 1
 Audio:
English Mono

 SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL:
 - Commentary with Robert Hammer
 - Interview with actor Nicholas Worth
 - Stills Gallery
 - Trailers
 - Easter Egg
 

 
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3.22 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 July 2010 )
 
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