DVD Review: Don’t Answer The Phone DVD (1980)

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Here we go again, another gem that’s been lambasted by critics armchair and professional alike: BCI Eclipse have dug up Robert Hammer’s 1980 sleaze-o-rama Don’t Answer The Phone and given it an uncut release. I do like my slashers but serial killers employing strangulation instead of the good ol’ butcher’s knife struck me as too dull in the past – this flick was a shock to that system. An all-too-human killer played by Nicholas Worth saunters around in an army-camo jacket doing women in with stockings. In between, he taunts a psychologist over call-in radio with a creepy Mexican voice. His victims aren’t all airheads we cheer on to die nor carefully developed characters we earnestly want to live, they’re mostly real seeming women who had the bad fortune to be targeted, and get terrorized and killed in most uncinematic ways. The Killer, with his sweaty balding head leering over them, is a complete psychotic that operates by his own indecipherable world logic. Police procedural breaks up the time spent with the killer, but I wanted to wash myself after watching this. Sadly, real life is the sequel to Don’t Answer The Phone – because there are slimeball nutjobs like this one out there in everyday life.

Audio/Visual:
The 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen is suitably cleaned up but thankfully the late 70′s hasn’t been digitally scrubbed out – this is a gritty flick that relies on its street-level charm/repulsion (take your pick). I’m not sure such high-pitched anguished female screams would need to be in more elaborate multi-channel encoding then the mono sound on offer, so no problems there.

Supplements:
A featurette, Digital Roadshow’s Answering The Phone is directed by Bruce Holecheck and interviews the man behind the serial killer, actor [and now the late] Nicholas Worth. He’s a kind man who chooses his words carefully, so everything he has to say is interesting or important. The Audio Commentary by writer/producer/director Robert Hammer & moderator Shane M. Dallmann covers the whole spectrum of the film’s origin-to-release. Hammer offers free flowing info for Dallmann who prods with a scholarly voice.

Two Easter Eggs are present – on the special features page highlight Off on the commentary option then press Up. The icon will disappear – so then press Right to reveal a red camera icon that opens up more Nicholas Worth footage of the man discussing his other movie roles. The other is footage found after the film when the audio commentary track is on and is best described as commentary on the commentary! Also, an introduction to the film by Hammer & Dallmann autoplays with the film but isn’t advertised on the packaging, so could well be considered an egg itself. Rounding out the disc are the customary lesser extras like the Still Gallery of on-set snaps which runs in montage and trailers for the film and lurid brethren The Hearse, Blood Mania and Roberta (Snuff) Findlay’s Prime Evil.

Graphics:
The classic white text and red phone artwork is reproduced for the cover with subtle enhancements, and comes in a nice plastic-embossed cardboard slipcase. Menu animation featuring bloody razorwire doesn’t overwhelm like others tend to do (and keep us waiting forever until we can pick an option!).

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About the Author

Editor, Retro Slashers. Producer, Sleepaway Camp 4.

6 Responses to “ DVD Review: Don’t Answer The Phone DVD (1980) ”

  1. Might check it out via Netflix.

  2. I have the old version, but I will definitely pick up the Uncut version! The late Mr. Worth’s performance in this film is so amazing and OTT that genre fans have to love it.

  3. Coincidentally, I checked this movie out this past weekend. I hadn’t seen it since its original release. My memory of seeing it in the theatre was that I felt uncomfortable, like I needed a shower when it was over. Nicholas Worth, however, I thought was terrific, if just a little too real. His performance holds up, and the movie has mellowed a bit over time, at least my perception of it has. Things I’d initially dismissed, I paid more attention to this time, like characterization and some of the performances. Again, the real standout here is Nicolas Worth, and though I may not have felt like I needed a shower afterwards, a sponge bath would definitely have been welcome. One more thing, though it’s been years since I saw this movie, I couldn’t readily identify any new material in this uncut version; I wonder what the uncut footage refers to specifically?

  4. awesome movie! not technically a slasher, but pretty close. its way better than alot of the more well known ones!

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  6. Counting the days till the remake, Don’t Answer the iPhone.

    Worth’s performance in this gave me a fetish for having sweaty bears on top of me.

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