10 Horror Films That’ll Make You By no means Need to Choose Up the Telephone Once more11 min read

Horror Movie Phone Calls
By  · Revealed on October seventh, 2023

October is outlined in Webster’s Dictionary as “31 days of horror.” Don’t trouble wanting it up; it’s true. Most individuals take that to imply highlighting one horror film a day, however right here at FSR, we’ve taken that up a spooky notch or 9 by celebrating every day with a high ten checklist. This text about the very best horror motion pictures that includes spooky telephones is a part of our ongoing collection 31 Days of Horror Lists.

Once I was about three or 4, I used to be obsessive about telephones. Pay telephones, particularly. I’d rush as much as them, shouting within the pure accent of a kid, “Pay pone! Pay pone!”, earlier than my dad and mom ushered me away from no matter telephone sales space I had locked my eyes on. 

To curb my obsession, I used to be given a toy telephone that I might make calls on, even when these calls solely went to the companion telephone the toy was connected to. However surprisingly sufficient, none of this has stopped me from being nervous about answering a random telephone name at this time. Likelihood is, a number of you studying this proper now really feel the very same means too. 

That’s as a result of anxieties about selecting up the telephone is textbook millennial angst. Seeing an unknown quantity seem on our screens forces our hearts into our throats. Billions of potentialities current themselves in entrance of our anxious eyes, starting from the wonderful (“I simply gained one thing!”) to the horrifying (“Your insurance coverage doesn’t cowl your process!”

However within the case of those ten telephone horror movies, as voted on by Brad Gullickson, Chris Coffel, Meg Shields, Rob Hunter, and yours actually, generally what’s on the opposite finish of the road is one thing altogether worse than medical money owed. 

Okay, effectively, nearly worse.

10. One Missed Name (2003)

One Missed Call

There’s a deliciously sinister new city legend on the heart of Takashi Miike’s One Missed Name. Frankly, it’s so inventive I can’t assist however smile at its spooky inventiveness. Right here’s the final set-up. Somebody receives, because the title implies, “one missed name” from a quantity that seems to be their very own. Upon listening to the following voice message — which seems to have been despatched days sooner or later — they hear themselves scream. This leaves them on pins and needles, painfully ready for the day of their demise to reach. And what occurs after they die? A vengeful ghost scrolls by means of their contact checklist, sorts in a brand new quantity, and the cycle repeats once more. It’s an imaginative setup for a horror story that debuted at a time when cell telephones have been turning into much more ubiquitous. But it surely’s made higher by means of Miike’s determination to make the vengeful ghost on the heart of the story not simply extremely highly effective, however impressively evil. It’s a devilish backstory that provides The Haunting of Julia an actual run for its cash within the “children are inherently evil” division. (Jacob Trussell)

9. Misplaced Freeway (1997)


There’s an undercurrent of horror flowing by means of a lot of David Lynch’s work, however none extra direct than in Misplaced Freeway. The horror involves the floor with the Thriller Man, performed by Robert Blake, in his remaining movie position. 5 years later, Blake was charged with the homicide of his spouse. He was finally acquitted, regardless of later being discovered accountable for her demise in a civil go well with. Whereas this occurred years after the making of this movie, his look offers Lynch’s movie — and this explicit second of phone horror — added creepy depths that wouldn’t have been obvious in its unique theatrical run.

Even with out this true-crime ingredient, Blake delivers a skin-crawling efficiency that leaves the viewers with extra questions than solutions. How can the Mysterious Man seemingly be in two locations directly, as he demonstrates to Fred (Invoice Pullman) when he instructions him to name his personal home? Has he been the one sending thriller tapes to Fred? Why, after talking with him, does Pullman’s character appear nearly overcome by some feeling he can’t fairly specific? And why does all of this occur once more to a different particular person later within the movie? These are questions that Lynch isn’t wont to reply, which permits the horror of this scary telephone name to succeed in nearly cosmic proportions. (Jacob Trussell)

8. Dial M for Homicide (1964)


Swann hides within the shadows. He awaits a sign. The telephone will ring. Margot will reply. He’ll strike and strangle her. It’s all within the title – Dial M for Homicide. In fact, that is an Alfred Hitchcock endeavor. Issues by no means go in response to plan. Swann simply doesn’t need Tony to rat him out as a blackmailer, so he’ll kill Tony’s spouse to save lots of his conceal. His unwell intent is rewarded with a set of shears plunged into his particular person and his life drained from him. The title delivers its lethal telephone name, however that’s merely the start of so many dangerous issues. Sins stack upon sins as people scramble to tug themselves from their predicaments. When a straightforward reply rings, a lethal lesson is delivered. (Brad Gullickson)

7. Halloween (1978)


Amongst its many superlatives, the unique Halloween is well one of many earliest (and finest) examples of suburban horror; a subgenre eager to distinction terror and vulnerability with the ostensibly “secure” promise of a gated group. However what do the suburbs need to do with telephones, you ask? Effectively, if you happen to’ve ever had the displeasure of dwelling within the ‘burbs, you’ll know that telephones are a lifeline in a group the place nobody can (or needs to) hear you scream. Calling neighbors to allow them to know {that a} shadowy determine is looming ominously round your azalea bushes? Sobbing into the receiver whilst you whisper to the police that you simply’re being stalked by a rubber-faced lunatic? What about respiration closely right into a landline after shoving your kitchen knife into an adolescent’s abdomen lining? It’s a fantastic dramatic gadget that makes a sleepy neighborhood really feel that rather more remoted. Sadly, for many of Halloween’s teenage victims, the one line of protection in opposition to the hulking brute is a dial tone. (Meg Shields)

6. A Nightmare on Elm Avenue (1984)


When Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) picks up her bed room telephone and hears the voice of Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) intoning “I’m your boyfriend now”, we shudder. However when he transforms the mouthpiece right into a literal mouth that licks Nancy’s face? We get a full-body cringe. It’s probably the most skin-crawling however iconic photos in all the A Nightmare on Elm Avenue franchise. It was even remixed for the meta-sequel Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. I imagine this second of telephone horror has left an enduring impression as a result of it foreshadows the zanier antics we’d see from our favourite dream demon in later Elm Avenue installments. It’s well-known that Freddy turns into extra humorous than menacing because the collection unfolds, nevertheless it’s in over-the-top moments like this that show his comedic stylings have all the time been on show from the very starting. (Jacob Trussell)

5. 976-EVIL (1988)

There are too many good issues to say in regards to the cheese-ball basic, 976-EVIL. Not solely is it well-written camp from future Academy Award winner Brian Helgeland, it’s creatively shot, options nice results, and homes a ridiculously charismatic efficiency from Sandy Dennis. However for the sake of this checklist, let’s give attention to essentially the most steel second of telephone horror the Eighties ever produced. Because the credit roll, we see a person haunted by the sounds of ringing telephones. Voices appear to erupt from the ether, beckoning him to reply the decision, “It’s for you. Come to us. Be a part of us.

As he’s introduced with numerous telephones, he flees, earlier than coming head to head with a ringing telephone sales space down a darkish alley. He cautiously approaches the sales space and, regardless of his higher judgment, grasps the receiver. His hand out of the blue constricts and the glass telephone sales space shatters. Then, inexplicably, he explodes in an inferno of flames, his physique launching into the air, and straight on the display. This second of mayhem is simply made higher by the revelation of why these telephone calls are so evil. They’re coming from Devil himself, who runs a premium-rate telephone service providing up spooky horoscopes. As everyone knows, the Satan loves staying abreast of what’s hip with teenagers in Ronald Reagan’s America. (Jacob Trussell)

4. Ring (1998)


Sure, the actual scary object in each adaptation of Koji Suzuki’s Ring is the cursed VHS tape. As soon as somebody watches the psychically recorded photos, they obtain a telephone name informing them that they’ll die in seven days. With out the tape, the telephone name wouldn’t be scary. However with out the decision, the scary tape wouldn’t have the button it must drive chills down our collective spines. That’s as a result of director Hideo Nakata makes use of anticipation, not the caller on the opposite finish of the road, to floor the creeps.

Because the tape switches to static after our heroine first views the video, the telephone rings. She doesn’t reply it straight away. As an alternative, she stares at it in shocked perplexity. It slowly dawns on her that she has walked right into a entice that may alter the course of her life. The dread that’s constructed into these areas between is what makes this second of telephone name horror so efficient and nerve-wracking. (Jacob Trussell)

3. When a Stranger Calls (1979)


“Have you ever checked the youngsters?” This can be a creepy line, nevertheless it’s made infinitely extra so when it’s being spoken over the telephone to a younger babysitter in a stranger’s home. The movie’s first act is a masterclass in constructing each terror and rigidity as a implausible Carol Kane grows more and more unsettled by harassing telephone calls inquiring in regards to the kids upstairs… kids that she hasn’t but checked in on. That is already terrifying, however when the police name again telling her to not panic, that they’re on their means, and that the calls are coming from inside the home? Completely fucking chilling. The remainder of the film can’t fairly recapture the highs of this horrifyingly scary opening, nevertheless it’s a assure you’ll bear in mind these telephone calls lengthy after the film ends. (Rob Hunter)

2. Scream (1995)


“What’s your favourite scary film?” With all due respect to the opposite entries on this checklist, Scream ought to be the clear-cut winner for killer telephone calls. Title a extra iconic scene involving a telephone than that opening. Can’t be carried out! Drew Barrymore will get a seemingly harmless, barely flirtatious name whereas popping some Jiffy Pop earlier than settling in with a VHS. After some playful forwards and backwards, poor Drew is pressured to observe her boyfriend gutted proper earlier than her eyes earlier than she finally suffers the same destiny. That one telephone name sparked a complete franchise that facilities on creepy telephone calls. There may be one factor about that opening that has all the time bugged me, nonetheless. Did Kevin Williamson overlook that Jason is within the first Friday the thirteenth movie, or was that an intentional goof to show his killers weren’t as intelligent as they assume? Hmmm. (Chris Coffel)

1. Black Christmas (1974)

Black Christmas

5 years earlier than When a Stranger Calls made the road “the decision is coming from inside the home” a popular culture touchstone, Bob Clark leveraged the “babysitter and the person upstairs” city legend to full impact for his proto-slasher Black Christmas. As the vacations roll round, and a bunch of sorority sisters bunker down for the break, they obtain mysterious calls from a person they dub The Moaner, who screams obscenities and demise threats earlier than inevitably selecting them off one after the other. The telephone calls are central to the rising horrors that enshroud the sorority home, making Black Christmas one of many best movies within the “telephone calls are scary” subgenre. (Jacob Trussell)

Keep in mind if you needed to reply the telephone with none strategy to know who was on the opposite finish beforehand? Loopy. Anyway, learn extra 31 Days of Horror Lists!

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Jacob Trussell is a author based mostly in New York Metropolis. His editorial work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Rue Morgue Journal, Movie Faculty Rejects, and One Excellent Shot. He is additionally the writer of ‘The Binge Watcher’s Information to The Twilight Zone’ (Riverdale Avenue Books). Obtainable to host your subsequent spooky public entry present. Discover him on Twitter right here: @JE_TRUSSELL (He/Him)

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