Don’t Answer The Phone!


The late, great Nicholas Worth (Swamp Thing) chews up the scenery as Kirk Smith, a deranged Vietnam vet with daddy issues and a voracious appetite for weight lifting and strangulation. Kirk spends his days working as a porno mag photographer, prowling the sleazy streets of Los Angeles looking for attractive young women to photograph. Any wannabe model foolish enough to actually go back to Kirk’s home studio for a kinky photo shoot eventually winds up dead.

When night falls the psycho strangler breaks into the homes of lingerie clad women that live alone and brutally has his way with them. They run if they must, hide if they can, but rarely get the chance to scream because he knows they are alone. The madman enjoys gnawing at their breasts, and violating their every orifice before finally snuffing them. The demented sexual sadist favors an unusual Vietnamese method of strangulation: wrapping a large gold coin in nylon and using it as a tourniquet to slowly squeeze the life from his victims as he climaxes.

Not content with the brutal acts of rape, mutilation, and strangulation, Kirk also has a bizarre fetish for leaving his victims’ dead bodies in lurid positions in public places. This final outrage is a slap in the face to the terrified citizens of Los Angeles, and to the dumbfounded, comic relief police officers that are hunting after him. The ego maniacal serial killer also enjoys calling in to a local radio show to taunt the female psychologist host – Lindsay Gale, by boasting of his demented crimes in a hilariously awful Spanish accent.

Kirk begins stalking Lindsay outside of her office, and finds a few of her female patients to be equally interesting. The first victim is a weepy brunette with incest issues. Kirk follows her home and tenderly assures her that everything will be fine, just before ripping off her nightgown and burning her with candle wax – in honor of the Father. The second victim is a prostitute whom Kirk wins over with a spoon of smack and two grams of coke. Kirk makes the hooker call Doctor Gale’s radio show and then strangles her, much to the horror of the Doctor and her listeners. A police detective investigating the case becomes romantically involved with Lindsay, just as Kirk finally decides to to set his sights on her. This love triangle quickly turns deadly, because no matter how hard Lindsay tries to stay alive – the murderer is always just a phone call away.

“Don’t Answer The Phone” is equal parts sleazy/disturbing/hilarious. The sweaty psycho killer is truly fantastic and the numerous scenes of him in action are very brutal and convincing stuff. Nicholas Worth does a great job playing an emotionally disturbed character, wildly fluctuating from angry to sobbing – often within the same scene. This flick opens with an ominous shot of a shirtless and sweaty Worth standing in a darkened room before a large statue of Christ on a cross. The madman applies a tourniquet around his neck and begins breathing heavily, meditating or perhaps preparing himself for battle. There is no dialogue in this scene, but the sense of dread is overwhelming. Nicholas is also tremendous in a scene where he brings a pretty young hitch hiker back home to photograph, managing to convince the young starlet to allow herself to be handcuffed. Big mistake. Nicholas Worth turns in a truly chilling and unhinged performance, and his massive frame makes him a distinctly powerful and fearful killer.

The movie then takes a turn for sheer unintentional hilarity whenever it features the bumbling, idiotic police officers that are investigating the case. The comedic value is great enough that the goofballs at Rhino Home Video once released this film (in a heavily edited form) on dvd. There’s an incredibly annoying wisecracking medical examiner, a poorly acted psychic named Von Hammensveld, and an extended sequence in a fleabag hotel highlighting a wacky coke bust that goes nowhere and adds nothing to the film but bad comedy. Speaking of bad comedies; none other than “Porky” himself – Chuck Mitchell shows up and makes a brief but memorable appearance as a porno mag publisher. Sadly, most of the scenes without Nicholas Worth in this flick are either annoying or boring, and are pretty much worthless.

Don’t mistake “Don’t Answer The Phone” for pure schlock though, as it manages to pack a quite a punch in the vein of other crude, yet effective flicks like“Maniac” and “Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer.” There are multiple graphic scenes of women being attacked and murdered, home invasion style. The original storyline was based on the Michael Curtis screenplay “Nightline,” which was a fictionalized account of the notorious “Hillside Strangler” case. The corpses of the female victims being left in lurid, open legged display by the killer and the formation of an LAPD “strangler task force” are both taken directly from the real case. This flick feels authentic and is unmistakably LA to the bone. The killer parks his car right in front of Gizzarri’s Disco on the strip, and hilariously enough there’s an ad for the Miss Gizzarri’s dancer contest that would later be immortalized in the 1988 clas-sick “The Decline Of The Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years.” Special mention must also be given to the creepy original music from Byron Allred, which is very sinister sounding and adds to the impact of the film greatly.

Fans of serial killer flicks, police thrillers, brutal home invasion kills, and occasional moments of odd, out of place cheesy comedy will no doubt greatly appreciate this one. BCI released a beautiful looking, 100% uncut dvd release of DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE that includes goodies like a commentary track with director Robert Hammer (no relation), an interview with Nicholas Worth, a stills gallery, and a nifty trailer reel featuring ads for a few of Crown International’s clas-sick genre flicks. You can also find this one featured in several of BCI’s cheap-o “Drive In” collections, and the film was recently re-released as part of the Katarina’s Nightmare Theater collection by Scorpion Entertainment. Easy to find either way, and this is some essential exploitation. Buy or die!


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