The Caller (1987)

lamorteavraisuoiocchiStarring Madolyn Smith Osborne, Malcolm McDowell

Directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman

Expectations: Moderately high. I like Malcolm McDowell and Siedelman directed Hercules in New York!


I like movies that are cinematic. They don’t always have to be this way, but it’s always going to help if it is. Barring the last few minutes of the film, The Caller is about as far from being cinematic as is possible, as the entire film consists of two people talking to each other for 95 minutes. You might think I’m exaggerating, and in this case I wish I was. Two people. 95 minutes. Non-stop talking. It feels like a long, talky play with the production values of an ’80s TV movie. Neither of those are my thing so clearly this is a movie I was never going to like. You might like it if those things are your things, though. Maybe.

The film opens with a woman getting gas while someone in a trench coat watches her from a nearby payphone. Sounds interesting, right? Don’t be fooled. She goes home to her cabin in the woods and removes a bloody hat box from the back of her jeep. Don’t be fooled. The woman then showers and calls her daughter to tell her that she’ll be so proud of her mommy for what she’s going to do. Intrigued? Don’t be fooled.

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Hercules in New York (1969)

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Arnold Stang, Deborah Loomis, James Karen, Ernest Graves, Tanny McDonald, Harold Burstein, Merwin Goldsmith, George Bartenieff, Taina Elg, Michael Lipton

Directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman

Expectations: Pretty high. I’ve never seen the whole movie and I expect it to be fun.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

OK, I’m not going to try to pull anybody’s chain here, Hercules in New York is pretty fuckin’ awful. Thanks to the presence of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger and the DVD release from 2000 that restores his original audio (Arnold’s voice was dubbed out in the theatrical edition, the horror!), Hercules in New York is actually watchable, but every moment it continues makes the task harder and harder.

The first half moves fairly quickly as there isn’t a lot of plot to speak of other than Zeus and Hercules have an argument and Hercules is sent to Earth. What follows is more of an episodic structure than a traditional film, and this is easily my favorite part of the film. Here we are treated to a cavalcade of random occurrences that beset our muscled hero and I took to naming them in the style of the Hercules films of old. So in no particular order we have: Hercules vs. the Athletes, Hercules vs. the Intellectual Socialites, Hercules vs. the Hercules Poster, Hercules Sightseeing in New York, Hercules in Love, and last but certainly not least Hercules vs. the Escaped Bear. If we’re being specific it should read: Hercules vs. the Guy in the Bear Suit. That should be enough of a recommendation right there and if that didn’t get you pumped for Hercules in New York then nothing will. OK, he body slams the bear! C’mon!

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