Friday, May 15, 2009

Don't Answer the Phone! (1980)

Directed by Robert Hammer.

Starring Nicholas Worth.


Generally, I'm not a fan of these kinds of films - what you can categorize as the serial rapist/killer plotline. A lot of them are done without humour and can be downright nasty, making the experience both dull and demoralizing.

The first time I saw "Last House On The Left", I felt like taking a shower and watching Bambi or something.

I came into "Don't Answer The Phone" with a certain hesitation but by the end, I was half-won over.

It still is a nasty little film (and a highly inept one) but the performance of Nicholas Worth is so over the top and demented that I was awake throughout and laughing my ass off more than once. The scene where Worth, as the psychotic killer, phones the psychiatric call-in show pretending to be a Hispanic named Ramon has to be seen to be believed.

The film is not especially noteworthy for any real reason but you can waste a couple of hours with this one and get a feel for what it would have been like to see this on 42nd Street back in the day.

Released by drive-in specialists Crown International Pictures, this film knows exactly what it is - a pure "Grindhouse" project - and the reels are just dripping with that kind of atmosphere. You couldn't replicate the feel of this type of film nowadays no matter what kind of skilled revisionist was behind the camera. It's a singular product of its time, a relic of a bygone era.

Not surprisingly, this was the only film that Robert Hammer ever directed. Nicholas Worth went on to have a long and succesful career playing random TV roles and bit parts in films.

Of note, Worth was in 1982's "Swamp Thing" with Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog, Escape From New York, Creepshow) and the legendary sleaze staple David Hess (Last House On The Left, Hitch-Hike). Worth also had a decent role in Sam Raimi's "Darkman" later on that decade. He passed away in 2007.

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