WHEN A STRANGER CALLS BACK (1993)
Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Duration: 94 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) & (1.33:1)
Director: Fred Walton
Cast: Carol Kane, Charles Durning, Jill Schoelen, Gene Lythgow
The made-for-cable-TV sequel When A Stranger Calls Back (1993) reunited original film director Fred Walton with the original stars Charles Durning and Carole Kane, who reprise their roles as Jill Johnson and now retired police Detective John Clifford. We have a new babysitter added to the mix by way of teenager Julie (Jill Schoelen, Popcorn) who while babysitting a pair of kids receives a knock at the front door - not a call as the title might imply. The man at the front door says his car has broken down in the vicinity, and the suspenseful opening plays out very much the same way as in original film, with more or less the same results for the unfortunate kids.
The story then moves ahead five years with the slightly older Julie now a university student at a local college, She still suffers from the traumatic events that she experience years earlier, and now it seems that someone is stalking her, somehow entering her apartment and toying with her in subtle ways. Enter Jill Johnson, the babysitter from the original film, who is now a counselor at the college. While the local cops think Julie is just being paranoid Jill believes her, and she calls in Durning's retired cop character to assist with the case.
This direct-to-cable TV sequel is a very well-done suspense film, mirroring the original in many ways but also adding some humor, and a few surprisingly dark turns that keep it fresh and avoid falling into the rehash trash-bin. Durning and Kane are great together, while the younger Schoelen turns in a solid performance as the traumatized young woman this being put through the emotional wringer. I do wish they had given a tiny bit more screen time to the stalker played by Gene Lythgow as the stalker, the tiny peeks into his life are intriguing, with him working clubs with a bizarre ventriloquist act, and an uncanny knack for camouflage body-paint..
Audio/Video: When A Stranger Calls Back (1993) arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory with a new 2K scan from what is advertised as original film elements with the option to view it framed in the original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1 fullframe or a cropped widescreen (1.78:1). It looks very filmic with the widescreen framing without looking too cramped, there are times when we lose some not-unimportant, so you may want to go with the original fullframe version to see the whole image as was intended, but it's also nice to have an option for those with a strong aversion to fullframe movies. Grain looks natural throughout, with the colors being well-saturated with strong lack levels. The 1080p image also offers pleasing amounts of fine detail and textures. Audio comes by way of a lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo, offering crisp and clean delivery of both the dialogue and score from composer Dana Kaproff, optional English subtitles are provided.
Just as the film is surprisingly strong so is the supplement package for this release, with Scream Factory offering three interview from pricipole cast and crew, beginning with Director Fred Walton who shows up for a 13-min interview discussing coming up with the idea for a sequel after having dismissed the notion of a sequel following the initial success of the first film, then pitching it the studio who shelved, before it ended up as at Showtime television. He expresses some disdain towards the network for demanding a happy ending, also going into what it was lie working again with Carol Kane and Charles Durning.
We also get an 8-min interview with Carol Kane, which looks to be a slightly edited version of the same interview that appeared on the UK release from Second Sight Films. Then Actress Jill Schoelen speaks for about 13-min, touching on working with Durning, being cast in the role despite Walton initially being cold on her, and emotionally addressing the real-life victims of similar crimes as portrayed in the film. Schoelen also discusses the film's special effects make-up and the legacy of the underseen film. The disc is finished up with a new restoration of Fred Walton's original short film The Sitter, plus a TV spot for the film.
The single-disc release comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a non-reversible sleeve of artwork, on the reverse side there's an image of Kane and Schoelen in a scene together taken from the film.
- NEW 2019 2K scan of the original film elements – in two aspect rations – 1.33:1 (original TV broadcast) and an alternate 1.78:1 version
- NEW Directing A Stranger – an interview with director Fred Walton (13 min)
- NEW Process is Everything - an interview with actress Carol Kane (8 min)
- NEW A Stranger’s Prey – an interview with actress Jill Schoelen (12 min)
- Fred Walton’s original short film The Sitter (21 min) HD
- TV Spot (1 min)
When A Stranger Calls (1993) is a made-for-TV sequel that on paper has no right to be as good as it is, a solid thriller through and through with a great cast, including the returning Charles Durning and Karol Kane, plus a solid turn from Jill Schoelen. Scream Factory's Blu-ray release is terrific with multiple viewing options and some cool extras. If you love the first film and haven't given this sequel a shot yet you should, I think it will surprise you.