Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Call Waiting: "Night Caller" (1976)

This odd adult movie could actually have been a good creepy suspenser if it wasn't trapped by it's pornographic expectations.

Bobby (David Book) is obsessed with his neighbor Carol (Monique Starr). He already has strange sexual tastes involving the telephone, and he torments Carol with obscene calls after witnessing her and her husband (Ken Scudder) have sex. The film spends the majority of its running time showing us Bobby's sex life- which involves listening in on a transvestite prostitute, and having hookers himself. He keeps returning to the telephone, however, and eventually finds a way to get inside Carol's apartment while her husband is away.

Book actually turns in a decent performance as the demented title subject, whose behavior is unsuccessfully explained away by the fact that his mother and sister were both sexually off-kilter in their relationship with a young Bobby. Starr is also very good in her role, although screenwriter Dean Rogers stretches credibility by having us believe that Bobby's particular accent is unrecognizable in person after Carol befriends him. Spinelli's direction is limited, but the sound design involving the telephone and Bobby's various obscene calls is nicely recorded. I viewed this film on an Arrow Productions DVD, and the transfer is awful. The picture is full of thin wavy lines and the quality is muddy at best.

The sexual scenes are not filmed to be erotic. I am wondering what the raincoat crowd thought of this when it was playing in those famous grindhouse theaters we always hear about. The sleaze factor is high, I was reminded of "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" and "10 to Midnight" while watching this, and while the women here are attractive, the final sex scene is not arousing in the least.

"Night Caller" would benefit from a clean transfer so a new audience can squirm while watching Bobby's telephone antics. I give this (* * *) out of five stars.

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