What do you say when terror calls? Just the average “hello,” or something more terrified?
I’m sorry to say Joan does seem a bit stewed. She acts like a marvelous actress on a binge caught unawares. Her part is miniscule, but she gives it her off-kilter all. John Ireland is here, 10 years after being stung by Joan in “Queen Bee,” which everyone has already mentioned. That film was infinitely scarier than this one, with Joan stopping just short of eating babies. Ooh, she was a bad one. In this film she’s a bad one of a different sort–bad as in “not good.”
Kit and Libby are the two silly acting teenagers that decide prank phone calls are a lovely way to spend an evening. They have several routines, but I don’t remember hearing, “Is your refrigerator running?” “Yes.” “Then you better go catch it.” I guess they decided against using the classics. They go from mocking people (“Is this John Hamburger?”) to girlfriend-accidentally-calls-wife skits (“Is –insert name– there? Oh, this is his wife?!?”). When their creativity runs out (after about two phone calls) they decide to use a planned line–“I saw what you did and I know you are.” Well, William Castle asks, what if the person you called actually did something and he thinks you saw him? Interesting idea–presumably taken from the book on which this film is based. Turns out, they ring up John Ireland, who has just committed a felony, and he thinks he had witnesses. Libby is the one that falls for him, I think, and she just gets all hot and bothered. She decides that she has to see a man that has a sexy voice like that, why, he must be just divine. She really fell hard–I felt sorry for her. She said his voice was something like him running his fingers up and down her spine. What has this girl been reading? She gets so frustrated (Freud’s type of frustrated, I imagine) that she goes over to his house just to peek in the window. She gets all dressed up to do this, does her hair and puts on makeup, and the other girl (Kit?) is understandably confused. Libby is stomping on the flowers when she meets Amy, the drunken, sex-crazed, incredibly angry and pathetic neighbor.
At this point, things pick up considerably. We’ve got the rantin’ and ravin’ of Joan, the stammering and completely terrified girl, and John “Sexy Voice” Ireland. All our characters have reported for duty, and the plot has emerged. Everything is ready to go. I think this is where the film reaches its own little pinnacle of greatness. Joan confronts John (didja know there was also a John Crawford back then?) with the a bunch of incorrect information, but it’s just enough to get him riled. From this point on, everyone’s in trouble and who can save them now?
All in all, a very enjoyable film, although I don’t think it’s too terribly frightening. (Joan’s hair is scary, as I think someone else mentioned, but that’s about it.) It’s what one would expect from William Castle. Laughs in a Halloween costume.