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When a Stranger Calls Back

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Contains scenes of nudity. (Fortunately, not Charles Durning.)

The sequel is coming from inside the house! That’s right, one of the tiredest pop culture tropes of all time finally gets a sequel! And you’ll never believe where the calls are coming from this time (because it’s a really, really stupid reveal. We’re talking the end of Signs level stupid.)

Julia is a babysitter, whose motto was evidently “Charisma free child care or your money back!” Her plan to put the kids to bed and then spend an evening quietly enjoying a glass of water is disrupted when a stranger comes to her door. He has a chilling request: he needs her to call the auto club because his car is broken down. Julia responds as anyone would: by lapsing into a hysterical panic attack while the poor guy trudges four miles to a gas station and misses his kid’s birthday party. We’re just kidding of course, he actually is a maniac and he kidnaps both the kids and they’re never seen again.

Traumatized by the incident, Julia responds by growing a Joe Dirt level mullet and enrolling in a small liberal arts college. (Experts strongly recommend you do neither of these things, but if you must choose just one, they tentatively recommend the mullet.) Everything is going just fine until one day she notices that small objects in her apartment are not where she left them. Cue hysterical panic attack. She’s really a charmer, this Julia.

Fortunately, she’s got Charles Durning and Carol Kane to help her. Durning appears to have gotten over Doc Hopper’s failure to sign Kermit The Frog as spokesperson by eating the Electric Mayhem Band and Kane looks appropriately traumatized for someone who had to play the wife of both Billy Crystal AND Andy Kaufman. At one point, in one of the most terrifying and disturbing scenes ever filmed, Charles Durning goes to a strip club to watch a ventriloquist act.

With Mike, Kevin and Bill there to riff, When A Stranger Calls Back will have you holding the line...for hilarity! (The writer of the previous sentence has been fired and is currently working as a strip club ventriloquist.)

Note: This RiffTrax was already underway before Mr. Durning passed away. As Mike wrote back in 2008, we here at RiffTrax stand in awe of his service.

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Poster art by Jason Martian
Poster art by Jason Martian

RiffMeter rating

Average: 8.8 (265 votes)

Content Rating




Release date

February 7, 2013


94 minutes
Captions (Streaming Video)