Copyright 2011 by Gary L. Pullman
It’s cheesy and it’s sleazy, but it’s a lot of fun to watch. Don’t Answer the Phone (1980) is about a female psychiatrist, Dr. Lindsay Gale, who, in addition to her practice, hosts a radio talk show during which she advises callers as to what to do concerning their emotional and personal problems.
One caller, Vietnam War veteran Kirk Smith, a sadistic serial rapist and killer, takes a liking, of sorts, to her and begins to stalk, rape, and kill her female clients. Hiring a prostitute, he strangles her while she is on the telephone, talking to Dr. Gale, and the psychiatrist hears the victim’s terrified cries as she struggles for her life.
Finally, the sociopath invades Dr. Gale’s home, binds her to an armchair, and beats her as he shouts and curses at her. Fortunately, the police are on his trail, and Lieutenant Chris McCabe arrives in the nick of time, grappling with Smith, into whom the lawman empties his revolver, leaving him lying in a pool of blood as he frees the captive psychiatrist.
Of course, despite having been shot full of holes, the villain isn’t dead, and he seeks to kill the detective. More ammunition is enough, finally, to send the dead vet into the good doctor’s swimming pool, bloodying the water.
The low-budget thriller is impossibly tacky, tasteless, and tawdry, which is why, pretty much, it’s become a cult classic. The nudity doesn’t hurt, either; most of the damsels in distress--no, make that all the damsels in distress, including Dr. Gale--wear lingerie at some point in the film, offering viewers a glimpse or two of their more or less buxom charms.