THE CALLING; MURDER BY PHONE
Here Michael Anderson does a passable job of turning an everyday item the telephone into an object of unease. However, Bells seems confused about what it wants to be. It draws on the post-Watergate conspiracy thriller with various scenes of official blocking, evasions, cover-ups and so on. Unfortunately the motivation for the killings has nothing whatsoever to do with a widespread cover-up it is a more mundane underdog seeking revenge plot and as a result the paranoid thriller tone of the film is at odds with what the script is actually about. The entire mood of the film in the first half ends up being one big red herring.
The phone killings are thoroughly silly victims start shaking, bleed, then blow up and are thrown across the room. In some shots, one can clearly see the cut from a person to the dummy that is blown up. Although surely the most colossal moment of implausibility is that within moments of Richard Chamberlain ringing up the faults division of a phone company that a repairman would turn up to a subway station to replace the phone. The films plot about an underdog seeking revenge for the petty injustices of life does get petty he blows up an IRS clerk because one of his forms has been lost or a bank teller for turning him away after the bank has closed.
Michael Andersons other genre films include:- an adaptation of George Orwells 1984 (1956); The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968), a political thriller concerning a near-future Pope; Doc Savage, The Man of Bronze (1975), based on the pulp hero; the dystopian sf film Logans Run (1976); the killer whale film Orca (1977); the psycho-thriller Dominique (1978); the tv mini-series adaptation of Ray Bradburys The Martian Chronicles (1980); the excruciating Adam and Eve softcore comedy Second Time Lucky (1984); the John Varley time travel film Millennium (1989); the tv movie remake of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1997); and The New Adventures of Pinocchio (1999).
Film online in several parts beginning here:-