Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 27th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: 1980, USA
Director: Robert Hammer
Writers: Robert Hammer, Michael D. Castle, Michael Curtis
Cast: James Westmoreland, Ben Frank, Flo Lawrence, Nicholas Worth, Denise Galik, Stan Haze, Gary Allen
BluRay released: January 31st, 2017
Approximate running time: 95 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Vinegar Syndrome
Region Coding: Region Free / Region Free NTSC
Retail Price: $29.98
Though the genesis for Don’t Answer the Phone! Began many years before its eventual release. Due to its content, it is often lumped in with the Slasher films phenomena of the early 1980’s.
Content wise, the film has many of the elements that would become synonymous with the aforementioned Slasher film subgenre. Like the all too familiar POV stalking shot, an ample amount of T & A and inventive death scenes. And yet despite these features, this film is anything but your typical Slasher film. Since there are no rear scares in this film and its narrative is more typical of what one would associate with a police procedural drama.
From a production stand point this film is well put together production that accomplishes all of its goals. The narrative is well constructed and there are no issues with pacing as things move along at good momentum. The film features a solid score from Byron Allred (Steve Miller Band) and visually cinematographer James L. Carter (Sweet 16) gives the film a polished look.
When discussing the performances in this film. All discussion begins and ends with its leading man Nicholas Worth (Swamp Thing) in the role of disturbed Vietnam vet named Kirk Smith, who masquerades as a photographer to lure and kill his victims. His gives a sublime performance that is head and shoulders above the rest of the cast.
Don’t Answer the Phone! comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release a brand new 4k transfer has been created from the film’s original camera negative and the end result is a marked improvement upon all previous home video releases for this film. Grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio is in good shape, dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented.
Extras for this release include, a promo image gallery, a intro with director Robert Hammer, a trailer for the film (1 minute 36 seconds), 2 T.V. spots (30 seconds each), a career retrospective interview with actor Nicholas Worth titled For What It’s Worth (8 minutes 52 seconds) and a second interview with Nicholas Worth titled Answering the Phone (13 minutes 40 seconds) and an audio commentary with co-screenwriter / director Robert Hammer.
Topics discussed in the extra titled Answering the Phone include, how he got cast for the lead role in Don’t Answer the Phone, dialog & ideas he brought to the film, his thoughts about the character he portrays, the cast and audience reaction to the film.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, how the film is loosely based on the Hillside Strangler, the use of POV stalking shots in Horror cinema, how the project began with a screenplay titled Nightline and how it evolved from into what appears onscreen, producer Michael Curtis, the cast, the score, Crown International & their T.V. edits of films and other production related topics.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a sixteen-page booklet with an essay about the film written by Michael Gingold and information about the transfer. Also, included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Vinegar Syndrome gives Don’t Answer the Phone it’s best home video release to date.