Don’t Answer the Phone (Disturbed Veteran Slasher Shlock)


Taking it back to the Dawn of the Reagan Era this month with Don’t Answer the Phone. This by-the-numbers Kenneth Bianchi/Ted Bundy schlocker is elevated to somewhere near greatness by a balls-out performance by Nicholas Worth that will leave you grasping your chair in genuine fear. As for the rest of the film? Well, you’ll just have to sit there and suffer. James Westmoreland is a LAPD Homicide detective looking for a brooding hulk that’s been strangling random women and raping their corpses all over Hollywood. He and his partner act as stopgap fodder and comic relief as they joke their way through their sections of the film. The meat of the matter is the interplay by Dr. Lindsay Gale (Flo Gerrish) and her biggest fan, Kurt Smith (the aforementioned Worth.) Eventually, all paths cross and a showdown is inevitable.


As mentioned before, this movie would be a painful and extremely distasteful exploitation romp if not for Nicholas Worth’s absolutely galvanizing performance as Kurt Smith. This flaccid film comes to life every time his bulky frame ends up on camera. Giggling, snarling, wracked with intense bi-polar mannerisms Worth gives you the fear and sets a new standard for screen psychos. He’s the main reason to watch this film. Vinegar Syndrome make sure to put this bad boy out on it’s best behavior with a gorgeous 4K scan from the 35mm OCN that is breathtaking. If you only know this film from Media’s VHS, prepare to be stunned. Extras include interviews, a commentary with Robert Hammer and (my favorite) an isolated score. Not a perfect film, but it contains a perfect performance and evidence that one good actor can elevate an entire production. Don’t Answer the Phone should have made Nicholas Worth a cult icon on the order of David Hess. As it is, the numbers are growing. Enjoy, even if you’re not enjoying.


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Written by David, Comptroller of Your Last Scrap of Existence

Don’t Answer the Phone (1980, 2023 Blu-ray)
Director: Robert Hammer
Distributor: Vinegar Syndrome
4 / 5