THE NIGHT CALLER is a Stalker-ella fable about a mousy psychotic who tries to validate herself through friendship with a radio shrink. Those who detest truism-spouting talk show hosts may enjoy watching this call-in killer drive a psychiatrist batty, but the film itself is routine
After 11 years, mousy Beth Needham (Tracy Nelson) tires of caring for her ungrateful, bedridden mother (Eve Sigall) and slaving for her demeaning convenience store boss. Mesmerized by the dulcet tones of radio show guru Dr. Lindsay Roland (Shanna Reed), Beth finds bliss by quitting her dead-end
job and by tacitly killing her mother, who suffocates after Beth fails to replenish her oxygen supply. Beth buries her mother in the back yard, then sets about he plan to become Dr. Lindsay's best friend.
Beth obtains a job at Dr. Lindsay's answering service by murdering the other applicant. She leaps at the chance to babysit Dr. Lindsay's son when her housekeeper Consuela (Luisa Leschin) is called out of town. To obtain Consuela's post permanently, Beth kills her when she returns. Learning that
Dr. Lindsay's manager Nikki Rogers (Mary Crosby) is setting up a career move to LA, Beth shoots her dead, only to be told that she does not regard Beth as a close friend. Desperate, Beth kidnaps Dr. Lindsay and takes her to a rural mobile home, where she kills an elderly couple who gets in her
way. Dr. Lindsay frees herself and, after a struggle, fatally shoots Beth with her own gun.
The feverishly silly THE NIGHT CALLER can best be enjoyed on the level of a cat fight between a sanctimonious talk show advisor and the phone caller from hell. As with most mad-killer flicks, two mistakes dominate the proceedings. First, the film builds up sympathy for its aberrational killer,
only to switch gears and present her as a loony villain. Second, it vacillates between traditional psychological thrills and tongue-in-cheek quipping (usually in the form of maniacal puns to an expiring victim). Fantasy scenes in which visions of dead Mama and Dr. Lindsay spur Beth on to creative
homicide only hinder the film. Far more successful is the film's depiction of Beth's disturbed perception of reality--for instance, the pickled hands of her beloved Grandmother, which she keeps in a jar. The lead players compel our interest, and in a supporting role, Cyndi Pass steals the film as
Marge, a born-again Christian who keeps lapsing into profanity. Generally good acting and bizarre touches will keep viewers from hanging up on THE NIGHT CALLER. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, adult situations.)
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