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CampBlood Homo Horror Features: So Readable They Hurt

 

When Michael Calls   1972

Ben Gazzara, Elizabeth Ashley, Michael Douglas
This one starts out with such promise but in the end kind of folds in under its overly-complicated plot and seemingly overlong running time. Ben Gazzara
stars as a divorcee whose ex-wife (Elizabeth Ashley) starts receiving creepy phonecalls from her nephew Michael, who died 15 years ago when just a boy. When people start turning up dead around town (by killer bee sting, fall -- during a Halloween pumpkin-carving contest, and other "accidents"), they enlist the help of her other nephew, Craig (played by a very young -- but still already rather busted -- Michael Douglas), now a psychiatrist at a home for wayward boys, to suss out what's happening. Some seriously creepy scenes -- most involving telephone harassment (my favorite!) -- keep things moving nicely, but ultimately the clunky reveal goes on a bit too long (it was based on a John Farris novel -- I have the same problem with some of his books). Philip Leacock would go on to direct the superb Dying Room Only the following year.

Rating (out of 5):