‘RUN – if you must HIDE – if you can SCREAM but…’
Don’t Answer the Phone! is a 1980 horror thriller feature film directed by Robert Hammer from a screenplay co-written with Michael D. Castle. It stars James Westmoreland, Flo Gerrish and Nicholas Worth.
On January 31, 2017, the film was released for a second time on Blu-ray, in a superior 4K transfer from Vinegar Syndrome. Special features:
• Scanned and restored in 4k from recently discovered 35mm original negative (not from a CRI dupe negative as was the 2013 Scorpion Releasing Blu-ray)
• All extras are included on both the Blu-ray and DVD discs
• Commentary track with writer / producer / director Robert Hammer
• Director introduction
• “Answering the Phone” video interview with star Nicholas Worth
• “For What It’s Worth” career retrospective with Nicholas Worth
• Isolated synth soundtrack by composer Byron Allred
• Original theatrical trailer
• Multiple TV spots
• Promotional still gallery
• 16 page booklet with essay by Fangoria‘s Michael Gingold
• Reversible cover artwork
• English SDH Subtitles
James Westmoreland (The Undertaker and His Pals), Flo Gerrish (Schizoid), Nicholas Worth (Blood Dolls; Swamp Thing; Scream Blacula Scream), Rad Fulton, Ben Frank, Denise Galik-Furyey, Stan Haze, Gary Allen, Michael D. Castle, Pamela Jean Bryant, Ted Chapman, Chris Wallace, Dale Kalberg, Deborah Leah Land, Tom Lasswell, Mike Levine, Chuck Mitchell, Victor Mohica, Susanne Severeid, Paula Warner, Hugh Corcoran.
Crown International Pictures released the low budget film on February 29, 1980 and by the end of the year, it had accrued $1,750,000 in distributors’ domestic (U.S. and Canada) rentals, making it the year’s 105th biggest earner.
Former Vietnam vet and photographer Kirk Smith (Nicholas Worth) is a crazed killer who stalks the streets of Los Angeles, picking up young women and strangling them in lurid fashion. He repeatedly contacts Dr. Lindsay Gale (Flo Lawrence), the psychologist on a radio show.
Smith targets Dr. Gale’s patients, commits a murder while on the phone to her show (forcing her to listen to the victim’s cries), and eventually goes after Dr. Gale herself. Two goofy policemen attempt track him down…
“Don’t Answer the Phone is uncomfortable at times; viewers expecting a fun slasher may be turned off by the often dire atmosphere. Yet it fails to maintain the realistic approach, as the movie has its fair share of ill-suited, over-the-top moments. While the production is often mired in such tonal inconsistencies, Worth elevates the gratuitous material with a memorable performance…” Alex DiVincenzo, Broke Horror Fan
“The performances are terrible, as are the writing and the direction…” Vincent Canby, The New York Times, 1980
“If you like really sick films, see this one… The ads made it look like another baby-sitter-in-distress movie, but it’s in a class by itself.” Michael Weldon, The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film
” …the covert suggestion that the female victims have ‘asked for it’ is particularly objectionable … so outrageously over-the-top, and so bizarrely eccentric as to be horribly fascinating and the final line of ‘Adios, creep’, delivered over a shot of Worth’s corpse floating in a swimming pool, is curiously resonant.” Phil Hardy‘s The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror
“Boasting elements that were genuinely gripping and others that were straight up awful, the extremely gritty endeavour is repeatedly rendered tolerable thanks to the outlandish and wonderfully insane performance of one Nicholas Worth (Swamp Thing), the excellent synthesizer score by Bryon Allred (Night of the Comet), and a bevy of alluring victims who all screamed and thrashed about in a realistic and convincing manner.” House of Self-Indulgence
” … it’s much more interesting now as a time capsule of Hollywood Blvd. at its grimy apex […] The whole film has that wonderfully seedy L.A. vibe that continued to linger on into the mid-’80s, which would actually make this a great double feature with the 1978 version of The Toolbox Murders...” Mondo Digital
“Despite its overall wretchedness, the film has managed to develop a small cult thanks to the undeniably fascinating performance of Nicholas Worth…” Cameron Vale, Amazon.com
“Rather than create sympathetic characters – in a way that a film such as Halloween does, for example – it seems strictly to dwell on the suffering of the exclusively female victims…” J.A. Kerswell, Teenage Wasteland: The Slasher Movie Uncut
Avoid Rhino’s censored and full-screen DVD
The film’s shooting title was The Hollywood Strangler.