• Night Caller

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: February 27th, 2018.
    Director: Anthony Spinelli
    Cast: David Book, Monique Starr, Joan Devlon, Ken Scudder, Valerie Franklin
    Year: 1975
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    The Movie:

    Anthony Spinelli’s 1975 adult thriller Night Caller introduces us to Bobby (David Book), a scrawny, hairy man who peeps out his window and watches neighbor Carol (Monique Starr) make love to her husband Lloyd (Ken Scudder as Stuart Hemple) in the film’s opening scene. After they finish, he heads downstairs, gets their name off of the mailbox, and then looks up their phone number. It’s clear that Bobby, a loner and a bit of an oddball, has got a thing for Carol – and he expresses this by making obscene phone calls to her.

    When Bobby can’t get off from calling Carol (who understandably hangs up on him), he calls a transvestite named Helen (Vernon von Bergdorfe as Gary Corman) and listens in as she fools around with her ‘boyfriend’ (Enjil von Bergdorfe as Laura Bond). But again, Bobby is denied what he needs to get off. Eventually he hires the services of a cute, curvy prostitute (Valerie Franklin as Linda Brooks) and as they go at it, we see flashbacks to Bobby’s childhood involving some rather odd encounters with his sister (an uncredited Linda York) and his mother who continually scolds him for peeping in on her. But even after Bobby’s done with the hooker, he can’t quite shake this thing he has for Carol, so when her husband leaves town for a few days, he arranges for them to meet and edges ever closer to her.

    Night Caller is a surprisingly engaging thriller, one of those hardcore films that would play just as well without the penetration shots. The script does make one mistake – it asks us to believe that Carol wouldn’t recognize Bobby’s very distinct voice and accent after hearing him on the phone when she meets him in person – but other than that, this is well done. A lot of the credit for this is due leading man David Book. His performance here is really strong, effectively conveying an interesting mix of lecherous perversion and pathetic loneliness. The movie never tries to justify his behavior but it does at least humanize the character enough that he’s more than just a cliché dirtbag. Monique Starr is also really good as the female lead in the film. She’s attractive and compelling to watch, she has her own look, but she’s also a strong actress handling the more dramatic side of the story well enough. When things heat up between she and Book towards the end of the movie, their acting does a good job of pulling us into the story.

    The film isn’t particularly erotic despite the copious sex in it, but it’s still nice to see Joan Devlon show up as one of the woman that Bobby pays to interact with. The scene in which Bobby listens in on Helen and Helen’s playmate is also unusual, though as the scene plays out it becomes less about crossdressing and role reversals and more about conventional sex.

    The film has a grubby, low budget look to it that actually works for it, rather than against it. It’s well-paced and doesn’t overstay its welcome at seventy-five-minutes in length. It builds to a satisfying conclusion and manages to stand out by doing things a bit differently than you expect it to.


    Night Caller is presented on DVD in a 1.33.1 fullframe aspect ratio “newly restored in 2k from 16mm vault elements.” Despite some compression artifacts evident in the opening scene, the transfer here is decent when you consider the source. Minor to moderate print damage does appear in the frame but the colors look good, the black levels are fine and detail is likely as good as can be expected from what is presumably an older 16mm print.

    The Dolby Digital Mono English language audio is a bit muffled in spots but more or less easy enough to follow. There are no alternate language or subtitles options provided. Levels are properly balanced and the movie’s genuinely bizarre soundtrack sounds quite good here.

    There are no extras here, just a menu offering chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Anthony Spinelli’s Night Caller works better as a psychological thriller than it does as a sex film, but it doesn’t matter. The performances here are strong, the production values obviously low rent but still effective and the story is interesting. Vinegar Syndrome’s presentation is barebones but the DVD offers up the film in reasonably nice shape.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Maureen Champ's Avatar
      Maureen Champ -
      I wish VS will release a restored copy of Spinelli's Seduction of Lyn Carter, a decent sex drama with Radley Metzger vibes.