Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Don’t Hang Up (1974)

Exactly as amateurish, dull, and pointless as its director’s first effort, Don’t Look in the Basement a/k/a The Forgotten (1973), this slow-moving shocker, which was later reissued as Don’t Open the Door! (hence the above poster), tells an illogical but linear story cribbing elements from classic horror pictures. There’s a reason why no one has proposed adding S.F. Brownrigg’s name to the pantheon of all-time great genre filmmakers, although he’s not so spectacularly incompetent that he deserves special mention among the worst people ever to make movies. He’s on the very low end of mediocre, which is about as ignoble a stature as one can achieve. Like The Forgotten, this picture has some creepy elements, but they’re all derivative and enervated; moreover, the film’s pacing is so slow and the storytelling is so weak that it’s impossible for Brownrigg to generate much in the way of suspense. Don’t Hang Up looks and feels like a horror movie without being horrifying. The gist of the piece is that young blonde Amanda (Susan Bracken) returns to her hometown in order to care for her ailing grandmother, only to suffer bedevilment at the hands of greedy small-town weirdos. None of this should come as much of a surprise to Amanda, seeing as how her mother was brutally murdered in the small town 13 years ago. Why does she return, knowing what she knows about the place? Why doesn’t she involve authorities once she starts receiving creepy phone calls? Why does she let a doctor and judge, both of whom have obvious ulterior motives, prevent her from transferring her grandmother to a care facility? Why doesn’t she just haul her ass out of town? One gets the impression that Brownrigg doesn’t care about the answers to such questions. His priority is using claustrophobic closeups and garish lighting while pitting Amanda—who, apparently, exists only to be stalked—against oddballs like a cross-dressing mannequin collector. Any resemblance to Psycho (1960) is as intentional as it is pathetic.

Don’t Hang Up: LAME

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