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Kritzerland is pleased to present a new world premiere limited edition soundtrack CD:
WHEN A STRANGER CALLS
Music Composed and Conducted by Dana Kaproff
“HAVE YOU CHECKED THE CHILDREN?”
With that repeated line of dialogue, audiences seeing When a Stranger Calls in 1979 were put on the edge of their seats in one of the most nail-bitingly suspenseful opening scenes ever put on film. Between that film and Alien, it was a 1979 double whammy of suspense and chills. Oh, it’s easy from today’s perspective to sit in judgment and say, “Oh, it’s not so scary,” much the same way that kids today seeing Psycho don’t think that’s scary. Why? Because these films have been ripped off so many times, and the envelope they were pushing has now been pushed so much further, that the classic chillers of old look positively quaint today. The fact that most new movies look and sound exactly the same makes movies like When a Stranger Calls even more unique – a truly low-budget film ($700,000) that came out of nowhere and went on to be an audience and box-office sensation (grossing over $21 million when that actually meant something). And quaint it wasn’t in 1979.
When a Stranger Calls is sometimes called one of the first slasher films – only it’s not a slasher film at all and there were certainly many that came before – in fact, if you want to talk slashing, Psycho would probably be at the top of the list. When a Stranger Calls has no slashing – what it has is pure suspense – there is literally no gore, just some blood in a flashback, but you never see any violence committed. Gore is easy – suspense, pure suspense, is hard.
When a Stranger Calls began life as a short film called The Sitter, directed by Fred Walton. The Sitter was basically the first act of When a Stranger Calls. After the success of the 1978 John Carpenter film, Halloween, it was decided to expand the short film into a feature, starring Carol Kane, Charles Durning, Coleen Dewhurst, Rachel Roberts, and Tony Beckley. The film was instantly influential and many low-budget copycat films happened for quite some time thereafter, including the same director’s sequel, this one for TV, When a Stranger Calls Again. It was also remade in 2006, but the remake stretches out the original’s opening twenty minutes to feature length – and guess what? It doesn’t work.
When a Stranger Calls was Dana Kaproff’s second film score – his first was for Bert I. Gordon’s Empire of the Ants (released by Kritzerland) – and Kaproff deserves a good deal of the credit for the film’s suspense level. It is simply unthinkable to imagine this film without his score because his score is as much a leading player as any of its cast. It’s relentlessly suspenseful music – there are no pretty themes to lull you and give you security – just dread, pure dread, and then almost psychotic music for those moments when things, well, get out of hand. The score is written for strings, prepared piano, and percussion. It is a superb genre score and a classic.
This is the world premiere release of the soundtrack to When a Stranger Calls. The film, of course, was mono, as is this recording, taken from the original session tapes. We present every note of music Kaproff wrote, in film order, as that’s the way it plays best – like a symphony of dread and terror.
When a Stranger Calls is limited to 1000 copies only. The price is $19.98, plus shipping.
CD will ship the first week of July – however, never fear, preorders placed directly through Kritzerland usually ship one to five weeks earlier (we’ve been averaging four weeks early).