Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
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The best thrilling movie ever made! With the best movie quote ever spoken: "Have you checked the children lately?"
No matter how many times I try, I cannot give this movie a pass. It has a phenomenal, iconic opening, and a solid, tense ending, but everything in between is kind of a lump of poo. It gets extra points for what it inspired though.
You may not know the name of this film, but you know its famous tagline. "The call is coming from inside the house!"
- The first 20 minutes is all you need.
- This movie inspired movies like Scream.
- Tony Beckley gave a good performance.
- Feels like two movies - the first 20 minutes and everything else.
- Severely drags until the ending.
- Finding the same babysitting 7 years later isn't believable.
- Coleen Dewhurst's performance was laughable.
- How did a murderer manage to escape a mental institution?
- A strange man follows her home and she doesn't call the police?
- What women leaves her apartment door wide open with a strange man standing there?
- A bartender has no control over his own bar when someone gets rowdy?
- Is it believable that the Carol Kane would hire a babysitter after what happened to her 7 years earlier?
Just watch the iconic first 20 minutes.
This is like two completely different movies in one, only the first and last 20 minutes are much tenser and vastly superior to the 60 minutes in between - which sadly shifts its focus to the killer and clearly wants to be more like Peeping Tom than Halloween or Black Christmas.
Classic! I loved the movie but thought it was boring in a way I still liked it tho it was disturbing
Realistic and pragmatic. But, wonder how asinine people are !
Overall: 75/100 C
Review: Carol Kane did not really prove why she deserved to be in Hollywood with this performance. There were a couple scenes where she really hit her mark and did a good job, but all of her other scenes were the opposite: very mediocre and unconvincing. The rest of the cast did a great job though.
I'm not quite sure why Carol Kane is billed as the star of the film as she's hardly in it and isn't very good in it. I suppose at the time this film came out, it was a twist that the film would follow the "private detective" and the murderer more than the babysitter and the murderer etc. That being said, she did do a better job playing the mother at the end than she did the babysitter in the beginning - particularly the scene in the restaurant on the phone.
The real star of this film, was Tony Beckley as the psychotic murderer. He genuinely captured an insane man and portrayed him in a way that was much more realistic than the more common Hollywood route of showing people who are insane. The way they showed his descent back into madness after experience "shock-therapy" a total of 38x over 6 years was actually very realistic and compelling. From the writing to the acting to the way it was shot, all of the scenes involving this character were very well-done, particularly where he was being reborn into the "monster" that he had been.
Charles Durning as the officer-turned-private detective/hit-man, also did a great job playing his character. It wasn't outstanding but it was very convincing, the second-best performance in the line-up.
Colleen Dewhurst as the potential victim and/or romantic-interest of Curt Duncan did a decent job as well. Nothing great but still better than Carol Kane's performance in some scenes.
Sort of like the acting, the writing had some extreme highs and extreme lows. The originality and creativity if the writing of this film needs to be commended. I went into this film expecting the entire thing to be about the original Babysitter-Caller legend yet it was only about the first 20 minutes of the film. Taking this route actually made the film even more exciting, as well as bringing it back full-circle to Carol Kane's character as the mother out for a date instead of being the babysitter.
The fact that the film went so much into the character of the psychotic killer and followed his descent into madness - along with the ex-cop trying to hunt him along the way - was very riveting.
Unfortunately, there were a few plot holes that really took away from the quality and consistency of this film. The idea that Curt Duncan was able to find the babysitter at the end of the film - as well as wanting to, almost out of nowhere instead of having that desire the entire time - was not very credible. Jill Johnson was supposed to be married with kids now, so she presumably changed her name so how could Duncan have known what that name would be to be able to find her? The edit to this didn't explain anything about how he found her which is a shame because it could've easily been done. For example: Durning was already going after Duncan and knew he was loose. It would be reasonable for Duncan to start stalking Durning, since he knows he is trying to kill him and Duncan's already a stalker. If Durning got into contact with Jill Johnson to see if she had been contacted at all by Duncan, it could've been the perfect way for Duncan to have found Jill, through following Durning.
Furthermore, the fact that Duncan didn't try to stalk and kill Durning after he knew that Durning was after him, was illogical as well. It's odd that he just ran away from Durning and randomly decided to go back after Jill Johnson. In addition, the fact that Duncan went after Jill and her husband before her kids was also inconsistent with his character. I think a more accurate and even more frightening ending would've been if Jill Johnson had come back completely full-circle to find her kids slaughtered by Duncan with the babysitter running out - just as she had before.
*End of Spoiler Alert!*
The film did a great job of keeping the suspense building and creating a very suspenseful atmosphere with the right pace, etc. However, there were some scenes that were very characteristic of B-movies. A fight scene where fists obviously weren't making contact and blood randomly appears out of nowhere with inconsistent injuries, along with a shooting scene that doesn't match up when taking in the angles and positions into account, were some classic production mistakes. The music had some great moments of adding to the film but there were also some moments that it wasn't so great and took away from the scenes just a bit.
Overall this film was very suspenseful and original - despite being based on a common urban legend. It's not one of the best films ever done but it's definitely still worth a watch, especially if you're a horror or movie fan in general.
The opening 25 minutes is now a fully deserving classic. After that, 45 minutes of a deconstructed route falls flat. Big music cues underlines diluted suspense through a series of ideas that could have worked had they been well laid out as a 20 minute punch, a very bad use of Coleen Dewhurst who could have kicked up a storm had she been given a tauter script. This would also have afforded more time to the final section, here squeezed in 15 minutes even though it's obviously where the main course should have been. So many good ideas and good moves are dampened by confused focus. As it is, it feels like 3 movies wrapped into one, and the middle one, the longest, misses its good marks.
After an initially gripping twenty minutes, When a Stranger Calls is shadowed by an unsatisfying police procedural storyline that lacks suspense or surprise.
The movie that popularized the urban legend of "The babysitter and the man upstairs", even though it was already seen in Black Christmas (1974). It's sometimes murderously slow moving, but overall, it's a thriller with brains and full of tension, suspense and some disturbing scares. The music in this movie is eerie, but terrific. A negolected horror movie of the late 70's.Recommended !!