Don’t Answer the Phone (1979) (Blu-ray/DVD Review)

Don’t Answer the Phone (1979) (Blu-ray/DVD Review)
Directed By: Robert Hammer
Starring: Nicholas Worth, James Westmoreland, Flo Lawrence
Rated: UR/Region O/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 2
Available from Vinegar Syndrome

Vietnam vet Kirk Smith (Nicholas Worth) spends his days photographing pretty girls. He spends his nights strangling them. With the LAPD baffled by what seems to be a series of random killings, radio psychiatrist Lindsay Gale begins receiving menacing calls from Smith, who then sets his murderous sights on her patients, and soon Gale herself…

A madman is on the loose and he’s targeting women! Sure, you’ve heard and seen that sort of plot before, but Don’t Answer the Phone brings a lot more to the table than you’d think. A crazy dude (played masterfully by Nicholas Worth) is going out of his way to kill women. He keeps the same M.O., he’s calling a radio show psychiatrist who helps people out while he’s doing this, and he’s using his gig as a photographer to also help get close to women to kill later. Soon he targets the psychiatrist herself, but by this time he also has two hard ass detectives on his trail trying to stop him. This leads to a romance between the psychiatrist and one cop just to add a little icing on the cake. The film is a bit of a sleazy affair, but I don’t think anyone picking this one up will care at all about that. If nothing else, all that does is add some flavor to the overall film. I’ve already brought up the great job Nicholas Worth does playing the role of Kirk Smith. He’s a pretty big guy and he has some very tense issues. These issues lead to us getting some gnarly scenes with just Kirk as he talks to people that aren’t there and goes into rants and raves. which, for my money, are some of the far best moments the film has to offer. I just don’t see how anyone could see something like this and not be entertained by the character of Kirk. He’s just a nasty brute that says some horrible yet fun stuff about everytime he’s on camera.

The movie at the core could be tossed into the slasher sub-genre but it has more to offer up than just that. Calling it a slasher might be too simple of a term for what it is. The cop stuff in the film lead for some good moments as well. We have a hilarious scene where they go to a cat house of sorts for some answers. We have moments where they have to talk someone down from jumping off a building. You just never really know what will come at you next in Don’t Answer the Phone and that’s what I really dug about it. If you want nudity it has lots of that. If you want blood and slasher type stuff you can find that here as well. We also have some detective stuff that rivals some of what you’ve seen in even Giallo films. If you just take all that and a great performance and mix it all up in a blender you get what is Don’t Answer the Phone. Vinegar Syndrome also goes out of their way to ensure you that you have the best version of this film to own with their Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of the film. We get a 4K scan that looks great yet keeps the gritty looks of the location of the film intact. And it comes with a whole list of extras you can’t find on any other release of the film. Don’t Answer the Phone is a surprisingly good movie that anyone reading this site should see. Make sure this is the version you see when you do see it.

Extras

– Scanned and restored in 4k from recently discovered 35mm original negative
– All extras included on both Blu-ray and DVD
– Commentary track with writer / producer / director Robert Hammer
– Director introduction
– “Answering the Phone” video interview with star Nicholas Worth
– “For What It’s Worth” career retrospective with Nicholas Worth
– Isolated soundtrack by composer Byron Allred
– Original theatrical trailer
– Multiple TV spots
– Promotional still gallery
– 16 page booklet with essay by Michael Gingold
– Reversible cover artwork
– English SDH Subtitles

Quality of Transfer: 90%