Wicked Wednesday: Murder by Phone/Bells (1982)

Man, what a slump these past few weeks have been. My desire to watch films has basically dwindled away to nothing. I can stomach one episode of Unsolved Mysteries a night or a weird documentary (looking at you, Tickled), and that’s about it.

This week I really wanted to put in the effort. But it had to be something exciting and fun.

And honestly, what movie has a more intriguing title than Murder by Phone? Sure, killer object slashers can be rather hit-or-miss, but a killer phone! Surely that has to be fun?

Only it really wasn’t. Weirdly, though, it has the pedigree to be something interesting. It was directed by Michael Anderson (Logan’s Run) and stars icons like Richard Chamberlain and Sara Botsford.

But Murder By Phone doesn’t really live up to it’s name. Mostly because I think it takes itself too seriously.

For one, the movie follows Nat Bridger (Chamberlain), an ecologist who is attending an ecology conference. If that doesn’t sound like a hoot…

When one of Bridger’s students mysteriously dies, he begins to look into her death. The police aren’t convinced that it’s any more than a heart attack. Strange for a young girl, but they’re not interested in digging up more.

Soon more victims pile up. Each is killed when they answer a phone call. See, now if it was the phone doing the killing, we might have something here. But instead the plot turns into a convoluted story about the control of phone companies…?

Honestly, the phone lingo had me so bored I zoned out too much. Perhaps the real plot is buried somewhere and I missed it?

Anyway. Bridger is the typical hero trying to take down The Man. We see him doing silly things like stealing his girlfriend’s ID to sneak into the phone company and beating up photographers for following him.

Movies like Murder By Phone are much more fun when they don’t take themselves too seriously. This movie could have been a slasher full of silly deaths and hide-behind-your-hands moments. But instead we’re given something more of a science fiction thriller with a few fun, but samey death scenes.

Perhaps this film would be more watchable given a good clean up in both the audio and visuals. It’s pretty unwatchable otherwise.

So the search for the perfect, fun movie continues. At this rate, I might lose the will to ever watch a movie ever again.

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