Blu-ray Review: When A Stranger Calls Back

When A Stranger Calls Back was directed by Fred Walton from a screenplay he co-wrote with Steve Feke and stars Carol Kane, Jill Schoelen, Gene Lythgow, Kevin McNulty and Charles Durning.

The Stranger is watching you … again. Five years after her own terrifying baby-sitting ordeal, Julia Jenz (Jill Schoelen) is trying to put her life together when the past comes back to haunt her. Someone is breaking into her apartment, moving objects around and toying with her. The police think she’s just a hysterical coed, but student advisor Jill Johnson (Carol Kane), similarly victimized thirteen years earlier, is determined to nail Julia’s stalker. Retired detective John Clifford (Charles Durning), who saved Jill’s life before, must find and outwit the culprit before it’s too late in this riveting sequel that reunites writer/director Fred Walton and the stars of the original When A Stranger Calls.

This 1993 made-for-television suspense thriller is the chilling sequel to the 1979 original. This story centers aroung Julia, a babysitter who goes through a terrifying experience when she receives a phone call and minutes later a mysterious man knocks on the door. She won’t open the door and sends the man away but he keeps coming back until she comes face-to-face with him. The movie then fast forwards five years later with Julia, who’s been left traumatized by her terrifying experience, gets to meet Jill, a woman who went through a similar experience many years earlier.

Jill knows all too well what the young woman has gone through and decides to help Julia. She calls in her old friend John for some backup because she thinks Julia’s stalker may be at it again. It’s hard for them to tell if Julia has simply been left haunted or if there’s really someone messing with her. Unfortunately, it gets to the point that Julia can’t handle it and ends up shooting herself which puts her out of commission. This is when Jill discovers that there is actually a stalker because now the psychopath has set his eyes on her. The two come face-to-face with each other but Jill is ready for a fight and ends up getting some much needed backup from John to finally take this deranged lunatic out.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features an image from the movie. The Blu-ray disc features some artwork that matches the front cover. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. Scream Factory has given When a Stranger Calls Back a new 2K scan of the original film elements – in two aspect rations – 1.33:1 (original TV broadcast) and an alternate 1.78:1 version. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, When a Stranger Calls Back was another first time watch for me and it ended up being an entertaining psycho-thriller. It’s a little dated and not a good as the classic but it’s still a chilling watch with a similar story. The first 30-minutes focuses on the babysitter who goes through this terrifying experience and then it jumps a few years ahead where it shifts to the two characters who return from the original. I thought the cast did a really good job with their characters plus we get to see a few of the main characters return from the first movie. Fred Walton’s sequel to his original is a dark and atmospheric chiller that’s full of suspense because we don’t know if this young woman has been mentally scarred or if she really a stalker until the big reveal. Scream Factory did a great job with this Showtime original and has given us two aspect ratios to choose from and there’s three new interviews included in the extras. When a Stranger Calls Back will make its North American Blu-ray debut on May 28th.

Distributor: Scream Factory

Run Time: 94 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.78:1) and full frame (1.33:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Subtitles: English

Special Features: The extras include three new interviews, a short film and TV spot.

  • NEW Directing A Stranger – an interview with director Fred Walton (13:24)
  • NEW Process is Everything  – an interview with actress Carol Kane (08:20)
  • NEW A Stranger’s Prey – an interview with actress Jill Schoelen (13:46)
  • Fred Walton’s original short film The Sitter (21:22)
  • TV Spot (01:09)
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