Saturday, June 4, 2016

Don't Answer the Phone! ...a good idea even with no psycho

Today we largely view slasher films as harmless fun from our youth. At worst, enjoying them is a sign of our immaturity (...forgive us for not fawning over "The King's Speech").  However, back in the 1980s, critics put forth a harsher criticism of these films.  Though Rated R, much of the slasher film audience was under 18.  Intellectual critics and do-good social crusaders like Tipper Gore, claimed these films would cause young boys to grow up as misogynists in an a society already hostile to females. Decades later, here we are.  Most of us aren't violent and Tipper Gore abandoned the cause by the late 80s.  Today's feature, 1980's "Don't Answer the Phone" was a poster child for these critics and crusaders. Victims in this flick were young women, mostly professional, who were stripped, humiliated, strangled and a guy (an army vet) with dominant woman issues.
A pretty nurse (Dale Kalberg) arrives home, strips, and is then attacked by Kirk (Nicholas Worth). He rapes her in all her orifices, bites off one of her breasts and pours candle wax on her (I'm sure Tipper Gore wasn't pleased).  She's Kirk's fifth victim.  But wait...Kirk is getting bold.  He begins calling Dr. Lindsay Gale's (Flo Lawrence nee Gerrish) radio show.  After each murder, he calls.  Dr. Gale, a strong, independent woman (can you guess what Kirk wants to do with her?) is creeped out by these calls and after Kirk murders a prostitute while on the air with her, she goes to the cops.
Detective McCabe (James Westmoreland) is actually a good cop.  He finds clues and is able to close in on Kirk.  Uh oh....that is because Kirk is getting too confident and he begins to attack women in broad daylight. In one scary scene, he scams his way into the apartment of a young beautiful actress, offs her and then does the same to her room-mate. Realizing he has left many clues, Kirk believes the time has come for his capstone event....the attack, humiliation, and rape of Dr. Lindsay Gale.  Oh yes....through twisted circumstances,  McCabe and Gale become lovers, and engage in pre-marital sex. By the way, the rapes occur after the victim dies.
Does Kirk look like Al Gore?
 Will Gale's pre-marital sex with McCabe seal her fate as Kirk's last victim?  Are  Kirk's murders a metaphor for the plight of strong, liberated women in western culture?  Has the misogynistic sub-genre of slasher films become mainstream in today's Hollywood offerings?  All good questions to argue over.  Violent and hard to watch at times, "Don't Answer the Phone" is vicious and hardly as playful as either "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th" (...two of the most famous slasher films from that era).  Nicholas Worth's performance as a monstrous maniac is fabulous.  Good luck finding this gem, as I had to buy a used DVD.

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