DONT ANSWER THE PHONE!
Don't Answer the Phone! quickly aims directly for the sleazy voyeurism that became endemic among the slasher films of the era. It opens with a typical slasher movie set-up where a point-of-view camera shot follows a woman (Dale Kalberg) through her apartment as we get deep breathing on the soundtrack, where we then watch her undress from the killers point-of-view, before Nicholas Worth appears and strangles her, contriving to rip her top off during the process. The film uses as a backdrop the underworld of sleaze that had grown up in the 1970s with Nicholas Worth working as a nudie photographer and frequenting Hollywood hookers, drug dealers and porn theatres it could be a West Coast equivalent of Martin Scorseses Taxi Driver (1976). Certainly, you get the impression that Robert Hammer was directly inspired by Taxi Drivers image of a sordid Times Square underworld and built a psycho film out of it something that Taxi Driver seemed to be perpetually edging over into being.
The role of the lead psycho is played by Nicholas Worth, a bulky, balding actor who found a career playing psychos and tough guys, usually in action films and tv episodes. He appeared in a couple of Wes Craven films Swamp Thing (1982), Invitation to Hell (1984) and other works like Scream Blacula Scream (1973), Hell Comes to Frogtown (1987), Darkman (1990) and Barb Wire (1996). Worth seems to be having the time of his life here in what was one of his few starring roles, including scenes where he goes whacko talking down the phone to Flo Gerrishs radio talkback line in a fake Latino voice. He has a series of entertainingly sordid scenes, including one where we see him break into Paula Warners apartment, lying on the bed with her, whispering Daddys not going to hurt you before he pours hot wax over her body.
The films When a Stranger Calls theme of the phone stalker is not that well integrated indeed, the title invocation of Don't Answer the Phone! turns out to be of little significance anywhere throughout the film. Heroine Flo Gerrish is a radio talkback host but there are only a couple of minor scenes where Nicholas Worth calls into her radio show and a couple of scenes where he kills women as or after they are talking on the phone. The title appears to have been construed in the same vein as the spate of dont titled films that were prevalent in the era after the success of Dont Look Now (1973) with the likes of Dont Be Afraid of the Dark (1973), Dont Look in the Basement (1973), Dont Open the Door (1975), Dont Go in the House (1979), Dont Go Near the Park (1979), Dont Go in the Woods (1982) and Dont Go to Sleep (tv, 1982).
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