• The Caller (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: September 29th, 2020.
    Director: Arthur Allan Seidelman
    Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Madolyn Smith
    Year: 1987
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    The Caller – Movie Review:

    Directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman and written by Michael Sloane, the man who created The Equalizer as well as The Master (yeah, that show where Lee Van Cleef plays a ninja!), 1987’s The Caller opens in a dark, dreary night where a woman (Madolyn Smith), who lives alone in her remote cottage, prepares to hunker down for some expected nasty weather, hoping that her boyfriend will arrive, as planned, any minute now.

    She’s taken aback when there’s a knock at the door and a middle-aged man (Malcolm McDowell) is there, claiming to be a stranded motorist and hoping that she’ll be kind enough to let him in and use her telephone. She’s nervous about this, of course, but decides to let him in and, from here on out, the movie turns into a twisting and turning set of mind games as it soon becomes apparent that, in some ways at least, they know one another better than either player realizes.

    The Caller is a pretty entertaining thriller that works perfectly until the last few minutes, where things do fall apart a bit as the movie tries to explain what’s really going on. While the finale may not work as well as you’d hope it would though, getting there is a pretty fun ride. Cinematographer Daniele Nannuzzi does a great job behind the camera, delivering a visually impressive movie that makes a film that plays out almost entirely in a simple, singular location exciting to look at. The score from Richard Band (of Re-Animator fame, and a load of other Charles Band related projects!) is also pretty solid, helping to add to the weirdness and tensions that permeates the film once our two lead characters start going at it.

    Really though, it’s the performances that make this one worthwhile. Madolyn Smith is very good here as the nameless woman who we initially believe to be very much in peril. She plays nervous and anxious very well, but as the story starts to unfold and details about her character emerge, her performance shifts along with it, it’s interesting to watch. McDowell, capable of chewing scenery to a ridiculous degree when he wants to, is thankfully quite restrained here, but just barely. You get the impression that his character could explode at any given time there’s something sinister bubbling just underneath the calm, collected external demeanor. He’s a lot of fun to watch here, and he makes his character very interesting and entertaining to watch.

    Seidelman directs well, controlling the pace nicely and Sloane’s script is intelligent and interesting. Again, the ending could have been stronger but The Caller otherwise manages to be a pretty entertaining and genuinely unique thriller worth seeking out.

    The Caller – Blu-ray Review:

    The Caller comes to Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome framed at 1.85.1 in AVC encoded 1080p high definition taking up 28.6GBS of space on a 50GB disc looking good, restored in 2k from its original 35mm interpositive. Colors look really good here, skin tones are nice and natural and we get solid black levels as well. Detail is always impressive and there’s nice depth and texture to the consistently film-like transfer.

    The 24-bit DTS-HD Mono track is fine. It’s properly balanced and the dialogue is clean, clear and balanced. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion and the score used in the film sounds pretty solid as well. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Extras start off with Boiling Over, an interview with director Arthur Allan Seidelman that runs for fifteen-minutes. He talks about shooting the film in Italy and with, obviously, a very limited cast while also sharing some memories of what it was like working with the producers who bank rolled the project. We also get an audio interview with writer Michael Sloan that clocks in at just under ten-minutes. In this piece, Sloan covers where he got not only his script for The Caller where he helped out with the casting and spent a considerable amount of time on set, but also his extensive work on The Equalizer franchise. Both of these are interesting enough and worth checking out.

    A still gallery rounds out the extras on the disc. Menus and chapter selection are also included. We do get some nice reversible cover sleeve art, however, and the first 2,500 units purchased directly from Vinegar Syndrome get a very nice limited edition, embossed slip cover designed by Ralf Krause.

    The Caller – The Final Word:

    The Caller loses steam towards the end but is otherwise a pretty fun ride worth seeing mainly for McDowell’s enthusiastic performance. Vinegar Syndrome brings this one to Blu-ray in very nice shape and with a pair of interviews documenting its history. No lost masterpiece, but a decent enough watch to be sure.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Caller Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      I think I've seen this, many years ago... but maybe not I think I'll place an order for this when I get paid at the end of the month.