When A Stranger Calls Back full movie review - Just Hang Up
****SPOILERS**** There's a really gripping and terrifying half hour or so opening of the movie "When a stranger calls back" where Julia, Jill Schoelen, is trapped inside the house that she's baby-sitting in by some unseen psycho, who's playing a sick cat and mouse game with her.
The sicko then ends up kidnapping the two children that Julia was baby-sitting and disappears into the night never to be seen or heard of again until some five years later when Julia is attending collage.
The madman for some reason known only to himself resurfaces and starts again to terrify Julia, in showing her that he's still around and watching her, by leaving clues like moving thing around in her off-campus apartment and driving, the already very emotionally disturbed,Julia almost out of her mind. Carol Kane, Jill, and Charles Durning,John Clifford, who were in the original "When a Stranger Calls" repeat their roles in this sequel. The two are so unnatural and artificial as well as perplexing to those of us watching the movie, who haven't seen the original film, without knowing about their previous involvement in the story that they only hamper the plot, instead of explain it, to the already very confused audience. If you never saw the first "When a stranger calls" you would wonder just why they were so prominent here in the first place? A flash-back of Jill & John Clifford in the original film inserted into the movie would have greatly helped but for some reason it wasn't done.
John somehow finds out who the psycho is, a person who's introduced by John to us watching the movie as a Mr. Landis, who's doing a ventriloquist act in some nightclub in the city. Landis doing his act, in black-face, at the club in what has to be one of the most puzzling as well as outrages scenes ever put on film. Having a dummy without a mouth, much less a face, Landis gives this pseudo-philosophical BS monologue about the facelessness of the humanity of the people in the audience. He then goes on telling the audience how that what they want to look like is not what their really like? Ladis just keeps on trash-talking and annoying as well as instigating the people in the club that the club manager has to throw him out of the place before the people watching him storm the stage and end up beating or even killing him.
John looking for Landis in a back-alley behind the nightclub tells him what a great act he has, what was John drinking at the time, and wants to talk to him about it only to have Landis take off and run away. We've seen Landis before in the hospital room where Julia was ,after she or someone else shot her in the head, as he just materialized out of nowhere. He's then seen for some reason beating on Julia's unconscious body so hard as if he hit her one more time he would have broke her in half.
John finds out the hotel where Landis is staying and is told by one of the people there that he came to the city to tell some woman that her children are dead which makes no sense at all since it's never explained to us why he did that. John also finds a number of photos in Landis' now deserted room of Julia both dressed and undressed in her hospital room taken by him.
The movie ends with Landis hiding out in Jill's loft apartment disguised as the apartments woodwork and masonry as he tries to kill her. Landis instead only comes across looking like a jerk as he messes up and ends up getting shot and killed himself by John who comes to Jill's rescue in just the nick of time. We were never really told in the movie just what were the reasons for Landis to terrorize and try to murder both Julia and Jill? did they do something to hurt him in the past? The ending of the movie which should have explained all this, just who Landis was and why he do what he did, explained nothing about this very troubled and dangerous individual and just left you even more bewildered then you were when you were watching the film.