I love cheesy B movies. I always have and I always will. It’s because of this that I love the movies of The Asylum, their filmmakers are the new Roger Cormans. In this series, I will take a look at all of their so-called “mockbusters”, and compare them to their theatrical counterparts. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
When a Killer Calls
Ugh. This fucking movie. I’ve done a few of these now, but this is the first one that’s felt like work. Not only to write, but to watch. When a Killer Calls was released in February of 2006, the same month as the theatrical remake of 1979’s When a Stranger Calls and could probably also be considered a remake of the same film, though all three are really just adaptaions of an older urban legend.
You already know the story that director Peter Mervis and his co-writer Steve Bevilacqua are retreading here. A babysitter (here played by Rebakah Kochan, Emily Bowers‘ trashy friend – I told you we’d see her again soon) is taunted by threatening phone calls telling her to “check on the child.” The police trace the calls and eventually give her the money shot you’re waiting for… “The calls are coming from inside the house!” There’s a confrontation and an escape. Done, right? Almost. This one throws in a twist; it cashes in on the then-popular torture porn trend by having the babysitter get captured.
Yes, the babysitter, her boyfriend and one of their friends get captured (the other friend gets killed along with the little girl and her parents) so that they can be tortured. It’s interesting to note that when the two friends go off to have sex and when the babysitter and her boyfriend make out, it’s a strictly clothes-on affair (as far as the camera sees, at least) but during the torture scenes… that’s when the bras come off. If you’ve ever wanted to see a guy who’d had his fingers smashed with a hammer forced at gunpoint to feel up his girlfriend, throw When a Killer Calls into your Netflix queue.
God, this movie is awful. Not only is it a bad movie, but it looks like it was shot on a cell phone and the gore effects are terrible. There is nothing to recommend about When a Killer Calls.
The babysitter’s boyfriend (with the smashed fingers) managed pretty quickly to break out of the DTV ghetto, going on to star on One Tree Hill since 2009.
The little girl’s father, who has a very small part here (you’ll see why that’s funny soon), has a much more interesting career than the boyfriend. He’s played JFK twice (once in the conservative “comedy” An American Carol and once in Call of Duty: Black Ops) and has starred in a series of alien-themed Skinemax soft-core porns.
How does it compare?
Neither this nor the remake of When a Stranger Calls are very good. But even though most of the scares in its theatrical cousin are of the cheap jump variety, at least there’s a feeling of tension building up to that cat. This has nothing of the sort. No tension. No scares. Just a rote re-telling of “The calls are coming from inside the house!” followed by a few scenes of cheap torture. Avoid this movie. I wish I could just forget I watched it.
Next week: Hillside Cannibals