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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Don't Answer the Phone! [Blu-ray]

 

(Robert Hammer, 1980)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Crown International Pictures

Video: Vinegar Syndrome

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:34:44.512  

Disc Size: 30,920,863,460 bytes

Feature Size: 27,657,376,704 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.89 Mbps

Chapters: 5

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: January 31st, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1692 kbps 1.0 / 96 kHz / 1692 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), None

 

Extras:

Commentary track with writer / producer / director Robert Hammer
Director introduction (0:26)
"Answering the Phone" video interview with star Nicholas Worth (13:41)
"For What It's Worth" career retrospective with Nicholas Worth (8:52)
Isolated soundtrack by composer Byron Allred
Original theatrical trailer (1:36)
Multiple TV spots (0:30)
Promotional still gallery (1:20)
16 page booklet with essay by Michael Gingold
Reversible cover artwork

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Vietnam War veteran and sometime photographer Kirk Smith (Nicholas Worth) is stalking women in their Hollywood, Calif., homes and strangling them to death. While Lt. Chris McCabe (James Westmoreland) begins a rather unsuccessful investigation, psychologist Lindsay Gale (Flo Gerrish) starts getting disturbing phone calls from Smith. Eventually, the psychotic Smith starts going after Gale's patients, killing them one by one. The stakes get even higher when Gale herself is kidnapped.

***

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...

One time director Robert Hammer's gripping and suspenseful early slasher, DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE!, blends unnerving psychological drama with brutal violence, complimented by a career performance from Nicholas Worth and atmospheric cinematography by James L. Carter.

 

 

The Film:

The phrase "They don't make 'em like that anymore" gets thrown around a lot these days. But in the case of Robert Hammer's late 70s sleazeathon DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE it's 100% accurate.

Beefy character actor Nicholas Worth stars as Kirk Smith, though his character is referred to simply as "The Killer" in the opening credits, a Nam vet psycho creep prowling the streets of Hollywood.

While Smith's victims range from nurses and aspiring models to actresses and other LA castoffs, he's fixated on Dr. Lindsay Gale (Flo Gerrish), a psychiatrist who dispenses advice via a radio show on which Smith is a frequent caller. Stopping at pay phones or dialing her up from fleabag hotels, Worth affects an outrageous Hispanic accent and phones in as Ramon, a disturbed individual capable of pretty much anything.

Excerpt from DanTenet located HERE

Kirk Smith (Nicholas Worth) is some Vietnam vet with issues. Either he's lifting weights while yelling at his deceased father in order to make himself feel better, or he's posing as a photographer to lure women into his web so he can rape them and murder them. Not necessarily in that order. Ironically, all these victims seem to be mentally unstable and patients of a radio personality, Dr. Lindsay Gale (Flo Gerrish). When Dr. Gale starts seeing a correlation between her patients and their deaths [wow, ain't she a genius?], she goes to Lt. McCabe (James Westmoreland) and Sgt. Hatcher (Ben Frank) - two bumbling, idiotic cops who are on the case to find Smith. I think the POLICE ACADEMY cops solved more cases than these two morons. Gale and McCabe don't get along at all, meaning that they're gonna eventually exchange bodily fluids for no apparent reason. Once the two, and Hatcher, start working together, the two cops realize that Dr. Gale is Smith's real target and they must do everything in their power to stop Smith.

Excerpt from FullMoonReviews located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Don't Answer the Phone comes to Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome. It's one of their competent dual-layered transfer with a max'ed bitrate - advertised as "restored in 4k from 35mm original negative". For a 1980 film it's sharper than I would have thought. Contrast is adept and there are instances of depth. It looks surprisingly strong - minor grain and the colors have richness. This 4K restored Blu-ray image is impressive producing a strong, clean, 1080P image and a pleasing visual presentation - all things considered.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

A DTS-HD Master authnetic mono track at 1692 kbps (24-bit) is utilized. It adds some depth to the film's less-produced effects with the score by Byron Allred (who also worked on Night of the Comet) leaving me indifferent to its impact. It is also offered in an isolated track. There are optional English subtitles available. My Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Vinegar Syndrome add a commentary track with writer / producer / director Robert Hammer who details what he remembers about making the film, the performers etc. While I thought the film was poor - I wasn't so opinionated about the direction - which I thought showed promise working within his budget. He also gives a very brief introduction. "Answering the Phone" is a 14-minute video interview with star Nicholas Worth who, amusingly, isn't too complimentary on the film. "For What It's Worth" is a 9-minute career retrospective with Nicholas Worth in films such as Swamp Thing and some TV work. Vinegar Syndrome add the option of the aforementioned isolated soundtrack by composer Byron Allred, an original theatrical trailer, TV spot, promotional still gallery and the package has both a 16 page booklet with essay by Michael Gingold and reversible cover artwork.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Don't Answer the Phone is pretty gruesome, nasty... and bad. Too much violence against women and not enough investigation story, effective police involvement, realistic character development etc. There is certainly a niche for fans of this sub-genre of 80's psycho-slasher flics. The Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray is a more complete package than the film deserves and you can bet it's the definitive home theater presentation for the film with impressive a/v. Beware - for the less-sensitive. 

Gary Tooze

June 14th, 2017

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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