TMP Reviews: The Caller on DVD!

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BLU-RAY SPECS
ASPECT RATIO: 1.66:1 widescreen
RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes
RATING: R
AUDIO: Dolby Digital 2.0
SUBTITLES: None          
SPECIAL FEATURES: None

The DVD is offered as part of MGM’s “Limited Edition Collection” on DVD, which are available from select online retailers and are manufactured only when the DVD is ordered. The DVD features a simple menu with no menu for chapters or scenes. Chapters are set every ten minutes. Manufacture-On-Demand (MOD) DVDs will play in DVD playback units only and may not play in DVD recorders or PC drives. This DVD did not play in our laptop DVD drive but did play in our Toshiba DVD recorder.

The Caller

THE SET-UP
At a remote cabin in the woods, a woman with a dark past (Madolyn Smith) is caught in a psychological game of cat-and-mouse when a strange but charming visitor (Malcolm McDowell) knocks on her door.
Directed by: Arthur Allan Seidelman
Screenplay by: Michael Sloan
Executive Producer: Charles Band

THE DELIVERY

The Caller is an odd film from 1987 that keeps you wondering what in the world is going on until the final 10 minutes. There are only two characters in the entire film: McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, Star Trek: Generations) and Smith (Funny Farm), who meet on a dark night when McDowell’s character goes to the woman’s cabin seeking help. Instead, the two begin questioning each other, acting in ways two strangers normally wouldn’t. They ask each other very personal questions, argue with each other, and at one point, McDowell’s character puts Smith’s character in a choke-hold just to make a point.

It makes the proceedings pretty confusing, and the fact that these two continue to spend time together and interact in an adversarial fashion makes little sense. As the film neared its end, however, it took an unexpected turn, one that explains what is going on and why. If you’re a fan of Charles Band and his movies from Empire Pictures, you might have an idea of where this film is going.

The Caller

Although trying to figure out what is going on can be frustrating, McDowell and Smith help the film by giving solid performances. McDowell ranges from charming to menacing, while Smith goes from vulnerable to unstable from one scene to the next. Even when all is explained, there are some lapses in logic and the film takes far too long to explain things, but it does hold your interest and while the end may not satisfy everyone, you will talk about it one way or another.

VIDEO AND AUDIO
The video presentation on the standard DVD was a cut above VHS, but not quite up to DVD standards. Granted, this is a low-budget film and the source material may not have been superb, but the quality looks like something out of the 1970s, not the late 1980s. Specks, dirt, and lint are quite visible on the print, and the red titles in the opening credits bleed badly. There is significant grain and some minor artifacting. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mix keeps voices clear, but is not overly impressive. The creepy score could have been helped with a stronger audio presentation.

The Caller

SPECIAL FEATURES
No special features are included.

BUY IT OR NETFLIX IT?

RATINGS
MOVIE: B
VIDEO: C+
AUDIO: B
EXTRAS: D
OVERALL GRADE: C+

This is an interesting film, which eventually rewards your patience and frustration. However, the lack of a quality transfer and special features make this a rent to all but those Empire Pictures fans who will want to collect the entire library of movies from the studio. McDowell and Smith hold the film together, but you are probably best served by putting this in your Netflix queue and watching it eventually.

The Caller is now available on DVD MOD (Manufacture On Demand) from online retailers through Fox Home Video.