Fred Walton’s urban legend-inspired When a Stranger Calls began life as a short film, only to be expanded past the twenty-minute mark once Halloween unearthed a box-office market for serial killer thrillers. The problem with such a profit-driven plan, however, was that Walton’s short – which functions as the feature film’s famous first segment, in which babysitter Carol Kane discovers that a threatening prank caller is telephoning her from inside the house! – was a one-scare device, and didn’t necessitate any of the subsequent filler concerning Charles Durning’s private investigator searching for Tony Beckley’s on-the-loose fiend with the help of Colleen Dewhurst’s prickly boozehound. With virtually no character development and a cast of typically solid actors employing an affected technique whereby long, tortured pauses accompany (and interrupt) every line of dialogue, the film is, outside of its reasonably taut intro and an effectively overblown score by Dana Kaproff, aggravatingly devoid of suspense. But then, it’s probably foolish to hope for competent scares from a thriller that thinks it wise to stage multiple on-foot chase sequences involving the plump Durning.