Octsober Film Month: "When a Stranger Calls vs Are you Alone in the House"


(Guest columnist, Furniture in Life, takes a day off her busy schedule to do a quick-write up of two of my mas favorite late 70's horror films, "When a Stranger Calls" and "Are you in the House Alone". Furniture in Life recommends Seagram's Wine Coolers to properly enjoy these two films in are their splendid wretchedness.)
Score me a copy of this VHS and win a prize
Due to my incredible writing skills, or the fact that I have no life and therefore have more time than any normal person should, DeLaredo recently asked me to do a movie review/comparison for their Octsober special. My initial gut reaction when asked to do this was an automatic ‘Hell no’, followed by 'why don't you do it!' Flashbacks of high school Venn diagrams and compare/contrast composition formats started flying through my head, and it wasn’t pretty. Then I thought, ‘I really have nothing better to do’. So I bring you my review/comparison of When a Stranger Calls and Are you Alone in the House? .

The When a Stranger Calls plot is, in a summary to end all summaries, a psycho kills two kids. Psycho is taken to a mental institute, he escapes, a detective guy is hired by father of murdered kiddos to find and kill the psycho. Psycho tried to find a friend…failed. Psycho has a mental break and goes back to stalk ex-murdered-kiddos babysitter. Detective guy saves now-grown-up babysitter, kills psycho. The end. 
Are you Alone in the House's plot summary: when the movie starts, a girl is raped. Movie then dives into flashback mode: girl is being stalked by someone. He starts leaving her notes at her locker; she starts to receive weird phone calls. She baby-sits for a teacher and ends up getting raped. She fights to get rapist prosecuted, and faces challenges from everyone. She ends up getting no justice but society is okay with the outcome. The end.
 
What both movies had in common were the ominous phone calls. Stranger’s calls were a bit more subdued and the monotone voice whispering ‘have you checked the children yet’ made me curl under my colchas a bit. But Alone’s creepy laugh had me covering my ears. There’s just something so unnerving about maniacal laughter. Reminds me of clowns and I’m not a fan. A difference in the phone calls though was that Stranger’s calls were coming from inside the house and Alone’s weren't. My personal opinion, I preferred Stranger’s phone calls. They built up a bigger knot in my stomach than Alone’s crazy laughing…though I’d never wish to hear any of the two in person, thankyouverymuch.

The 70s sucked; No called ID
Both movies had psychotic guys stalking young women.  The differences, though, out weigh the similarities. Stranger’s guy actually ends up murdering people. He’s the one that did time in a mental institute. Scariest part (to me) was when he was in a dumpster and he starts talking to himself. You can see when he takes a mental vacation and goes off the deep end. If only he’d found a friend and the detective wasn’t so mean to him, he might've been ok. Alone’s psycho doesn’t kill anyone, just goes and stalks/rapes girls. This psycho comes from a rich family with a high social standing. The guy is way better looking than the wimpy weirdo from Stranger, but as for his psychological well-being, Dennis Quaid is just as screwed up in the head.
In both movies, the women come out ‘victorious’. Well, they both end up living, and I think that can be considered a victory. Of course, the endings are completely different. Stranger’s psycho ends up being killed (sorry if I gave away the ending). He obviously was at the point of no return. He leaves a huge impact on the babysitter, probably sending her into years of therapy, if she wasn’t already going. Alone’s psycho doesn’t die. In fact, he got off pretty much scot-free. The guy rapes the girl, the girl is the one blacklisted because she wasn’t a virgin, and at the end, he’s charged with assault. That’s right, assault…no rape charge or conviction…nope. He’s shipped off to some boarding school and the girl is pretty much left to piece together whatever name she had left after it being dragged through the gravel. She was, after all, the one who pretty much asked for it. Right… Personally, the ending to Alone had me feeling a bit dirty. I didn’t like it. Due to the girl not being a virgin, automatically that made the rape outcry lose some creditability. It totally sucked…and the douche of a rapist was still going to class with her!! In fact, thinking about it now, I guess both girls weren’t as victorious as I had previously thought. The psychos got off pretty much unscathed…yea, even the now-dead killer from Stranger

These movies had me going around my apartment checking rooms, closets, and cupboards to make sure my daughter and I were the only ones there. I hafta thank DeLaredo for the fact that I will probably have to do that every night. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed watching both flicks. If I was forced to pick one, I’d go for When a Stranger Callsreal ride…..  

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