In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Phone Sex.


This week’s title is Ruggero Deodato’s 1988 thriller Dial: Help.


A model (Charlotte Lewis) working in Rome starts being stalked by possessed phone system.

I have to admit I cheated this week, as my source was not VHS, but a screening put on at Eyesore Cinema by my friend and purveyor of wacko cinema David Bertrand. As he put it, Deodato took time out from making cannibal and David Hess home invasion pictures to birth this bizarre outing about a horny telephone system.

Dial: Help had my head spinning almost immediately, as it goes from zero to crazy at the drop of a hat. It’s very difficult for me to remember details as I’d had a few wobbly pops, but I do remember a ton of different vintage telephones – some of which actually crept around like prowling animals – a revolving door of quirky supporting characters and a random room right out of a Terry Gilliam picture full of old-timey tape reels and frolicking pigeons.

It wouldn't be Italian horror without red and blue.

Every so often while floating through this eighties Italian film logic, someone would be offed in spectacular fashion, like when a pay phone went all Maximum Overdrive and fired quarters into a would-be rapist’s face or when that innocent professor’s pacemaker exploded in excessively Italian fashion. It all led up to an ending so comical that when I told it to my friend who’d stepped out for a smoke, she thought I was making it up.

I’d be interested to see the script for Dial: Help, if there ever was one. It must read like a fever dream. Fortunately, Deodato had the fantastic talents of Claudio Simonetti to fall back on – as well as that café guy with the flute.


At the center of it all was Lewis, who seemed to be taking everything in stride. I imagine after hanging out with The Golden Child, she probably didn’t expect that a few years later she’d be writhing hlaf-naked in a bathtub and having literal “phone sex”. And what was with all that blowjob art imagery in her apartment? I do have to hand it to her and the rest of the cast though because they were all one-hundred per cent invested in this ridiculous concept.

Charlotte Lewis in Dial: Help

And that’s why it’s kind of impossible to not have a good time watching Dial: Help. It’s one of those technology based movies that could have only existed in the eighties, a certain kind of bonkers reserved for titles like Evilspeak (1981) and Pulse (1988). God bless that decade.

No comments: