When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)

Written & Directed by: Fred Walton


Carol Kane .... Jill Johnson
Charles Durning .... John Clifford
Jill Schoelen .... Julia Jenz
Gene Lythgow .... William Landis

Release Dates: Made-for-Cable: April 4, 1993

*Images courtesy at: www.sharevirus.com




A girl named Julia Jenz (Jill Schoelen) is babysitting in a quiet house but suddenly there's someone knocking on the door telling her that his car has broken down and needs to use the phone but she refuses to open the door and tries to call a car insurance company only to find out that the line is dead. Later on this person on the other side of the door seems to know her too well and she barely escapes the house with this stranger almost getting her as well as the children she babysits ends up missing.

Five years have passed but someone seems to be watching her in her apartment and moving stuff in which she goes to the police about it as they don't believe her except for someone who works for them named Jill Johnson (Carol Kane) who has had an incident like this when she was her age. They also try to get help from John Clifford (Charles Durning) who killed Jill's stalker back in the days but something tragic happens to Julia having her in a coma in a hospital.

Suddenly this new stalker seems to follow Jill as her nightmare returns to her but she tries to be prepared this time. But will she be able to survive this incident? This new maniac seems to be clever on how to attak his victims and might get her before she knows what has hit her.


We spot a beginning with a babysitter Julia Jenz getting ready to do her job with the wife constantly reminding her on stuff with the husband telling her they're late in which this seemed to happen in the first flick showing a deja vu. It seems common to have it in a sequel happening well over a decade later.
Lots of good camera shots on Julia sitting near a couch as well as shots on a phone then suddenly it rings which gives you a chilling feeling that it's not your everyday person calling. Certainly this carries on the babysitting horror like it did in the original.
Also good close up shots on a doorknob as well as some knocking but the sounds of the knocking could've sounded more dark than it was. There's also a perfect peer pressuring moment whether or not she should open the door as it's someone who claims his car broke down and needs to use the phone. It keeps you in suspense on whether or not she should answer the door. Still it looked creepy with the close up shots on the door knob as you kinda wonder if this person will smash the door open. Plus a good moment when Julia realises the phone is dead which works in cleverly for the killer to get this person without her calling the police. What's even more spooky is when she sees a pad that she wrote some information down is gone as you know that this person has been stalking her in the home without her knowing about it. This definetely should please you horror fans on being creeped out imagining if you were in this scenario with her. There's even creepy moments with this stranger on the other side of the door knowing who she is which was nicely put in as well as him telling her someone is upstairs where the children are sleeping and are missing. This also makes you feel scared when you spot her running up the stairs and spotting the room empty as well as her thinking on how to rush down the stairs to escape out the house since there's still shots on the hallways of the house all so still and dark as this was perfectly done and making you wonder if this maniac will appear out of the blue and make you scream while watching all of this.

Also what's creepy is hearing his voice when she opens the door warning her a man is coming to get her and then a dark shadowy figure creeping up towards her as she tries to unlock the door to get out as this for sure keeps you in suspense if she will get out in time since it shows you that it can be unsafe to lock something securely when the maniac is in the house.
Things seem impressive when the story takes place 5 years later with Julia living in her apartment and realising that someone went into her suite as well as going to the police station to report it all. Plus a great approach by Jill Johnson believing her story since we all remember her incident in the first film as watching this was pretty darn impressive that she now works for the law. Things look even touching when she is invited to her suite and telling her about an incident that she had which looked comforting on someone who is understanding on this situation.
An impressive moment is when Julia wakes up from her bed in her apartment and calls Jill up telling her on someone staring at her in her window which is a nice touch here as you wonder if something will happen as well as good serious moments on Jill telling he ron what to do to check on stuff and make sure everything is locked and that no one is in the house as this is a clever move to prevent a killer from getting her since we all know the risks in a horror flick.
A good shot on Julia waking up the next morning and discovering that her window was open drawing a perfect mysterious moment in the story.
Nice situation when Jill and John Clifford inspect the house that took place on the incident 5 years beforehand and as to how this maniac tricked Julia as to how he made out there were two people stalking her since this looked well written in on resolved mysterious case by spotting all of this.
Also there's a good situation with Jill going grocery shopping and then we have a close up shot on a vodka bottle she spots and then ignores. Suddenly while she goes to her cart we spot that bottle in her cart as well as this maniac calling her name out in which she tries to spot who it is and can't find him as this certainly boggles you out big time as to how he does this without being spotted. A brillitant scene here indeed.
A nice touch with Jill acting upset while talking to Julia in a coma on a hospital bed sobbing as this draws in well to the story making us think that something will be done with this psychopath. Then when she leaves we spot this psycho entering without being noticed in the dark and tapping on her to see if her nerves are alive which looked intimidating to watch wondering if he will do something worst.
A nice creepy showdown when Jill enters home and notices missing children on a milk carton that was placed on her counter and then the lights go out with her grabbing a gun and hearing this man speaking to her but isn't spotted. Yet when we find out where he is this looked brilliantly done as to how he hid himself. Yet I won't give this moment away.
Bottom line is the film can be genuinely frightening but yet seems a little too overly long as the storyline slopes a bit. Also this almost seemed like a remake of the original but using different situations with the same chemistry involved at the same time. Plus we never find out on what happened to those missing children from the beginning of the story which almost makes this film a little pointless.

The acting was nicely put together as Carol Kane (Jill Johnson) seemed to improve on her acting skills over the years since the first film in which she draws in perfectly sharp with her first approach coming across nice and serious by what she tells someone and drawing to the point as this looked very strong while she does this. Also she shows a nice calm and caring voice explaining a situation making her believeable with her understanding type of behavior. She does a nice job speaking seriously and clearly instructing someone else as what to do while talking to them on the phone which looked realistic. She also does a nice job with her aggressiveness to a sitation which came out very powerful in her presence. Does a okay job sobbing or acting emotionally upset while speaking to someone at a hospital bed almost losing it which was needed a bit of work but she was still passable. Shows alot of good energy in her blocking when she acts on alert especially while grabbing her gun and looking around which she studied this scene very well. Does a nice job with her struggling by her defensive blocking which showed great timing.
Charles Durning (John Clifford) returns as well and still has the knack to play a caring detective in the flick. He shows off a great friendliness into his first appearance while greeting someone which shows off well. He also does a nice job with his seriousness on solving the case in which he often does in the previous film. Plus shows a nice argumentive attitude on a situation too. Does well calling out to someone on a corner street trying to act friendly which shows off well as you can tell that he was going undercover which looked very impressive on how he did this.
Jill Schoelen (Julia Jenz) was impressive playing the role of the babysitter victim in the story as she showed off a nice nervousness while talking to someone on the other side of the door as well as her getting almost emotional later on with a good scared type of speaking. She also shows a good adrenaline while running up the stairs or closing some curtains just getting into this role big time. She also does a nice job screaming out loud too. Later on in a situation shows a great frustration while talking to the police on her case in which this looked not too shabby. She also shows a nice emotinal attitude later on after hearing a similar story towards her. Shows alot of great adrenaline and energy when she panicks and calls someone acting freaked out of her head which also looked believeable especially with her paranoid expressions too.
Gene Lythgow (William Landis) certainly drew a nice creepiness into his role with his deceivingly normal speaking voice only later to come across as someone a little odd. Shows a good mysterious presence at a hospital bed tapping someone lying there and getting a little more forceful in which he brings a nice intensity here. He also shows some good troubled expressions by what he does when he reveals himself. Plus does a nice job acting timid while someone catches his attention and having a nice quiverring type of attitude. He also does a nice job lunging out to attack someone and getting good and forceful in which his physical blocking looked believeably intense too.

Many topless waitresses are revealed while serving cocktails with their breasts exposed.
A woman backstage has an unbotten shirt and her breasts are breifly revealed as well.
Pictures taken of someone's breasts while lying in a hospital bed is revealed with her shirt lifted up.

A violent bloodshed is revealed in an apartment suite.
A scarred girl is lying in bed with a cast wrapped around her head.

Alot of neat and mysterious composing making it seem very creepy as we hear some good deep violin playing along with the odd crashing sounds. Plus there's great high pitched screeching sounds too for the suspected terrors that will happen. Also there's nice echoey piano playing for the mellow moments all done by Dana Kaproff.

Mrs. Schifrin: How do I look?
Dr. Schifrin: You look late. Beautiful, but late

Julia: Someone has been in my apartment and they've done things, little things, to let me know that he's there.

Jill: I'd be willing to bet that her apartment is pretty bare, not cluttered. You would know if a book had been moved.

William Landis: I am not the reflection of anything. I am not an illusion. I am the truth. I'm invisible. Unknowable. You people are the real illusionists. You people are the real illusionists!