- Movie Rating -

Don’t Answer the Phone! (1980)

| February 29, 1980

Don’t Answer the Phone! Is a mystery, a thriller and a horror movie that fails on all three counts.  It’s not much of a thriller because we know what’s going to happen, and not really a mystery since we spend a lot of time with the killer.  As for it being a horror movie?  Well, that’s more or less an honorary title.  The overhang of the movie has the tenets of a horror movie and even the title, but it fails to provide what a horror movie might include.  This feels more or less like a violent dime-store version of CSI.

The movie is really about the killer, which wouldn’t be so bad if the guy weren’t so repugnant.  He’s played by Nicholas Worth who has the screen presence for this kind of role and that’s not a compliment.  He plays Kirk Smith, a dumpy sort of guy who works by day as a photographer and then spends his nights raping and murdering helpless young women.

Okay, so, right here we have the makings of a pliable thriller.  All you have to do is make the killer as invisible as possible, a nothing, a nobody, somebody that barely a dot on your daily radar.  You see him, you say hello and then he clears out of your mind.  The problem here is that Kirk is a creep with his every breath.  He walks creepy, he talks creepy, he sits and stands creepy.  Someone, someone would put it together.

Kirk couldn’t be more obvious if he put up a neon sign proclaiming his crimes.  In the mode, I guess, of the Zodiac Killer, he teases the public and practically dares them to figure it out.  He calls a radio station pretending to be a Puerto Rican man dealing with emotional issues.  Later in the movie he kills a girl on the air.

Naturally, this puts the police on a city-wide manhunt of which the standouts are a pair of cops on the edge Hacker and McCabe who aren’t above bending the rules the find him.  None of this is really explored with any depth.  The forward thrust of the movie is the nudity, the raping and the killing, of which this movie is extremely generous.

I wish that I could say that Don’t Answer the Phone! was a fun bad movie, but it’s just unpleasant.  It’s exploitation at the lowest common denominator and isn’t even worth a cheap thrill.  

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1980) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized