ByDrew Grimm Van Ess, writer at
Horror aficionado/nerd. Follow my blog for film reviews, book reviews, and interviews.
Drew Grimm Van Ess

Usually in classic horror movies, there's some sort of memorable phone call. Whether it's just dirty talking prank callers, or something supernatural limiting your time to live. The phone has also been used as a weapon, and has had some strange things pop out of it as a surprise for whoever's on the other end. With cell phones playing such a big part in modern day technology, and in everyone's lives, it's time we take a closer look at how such a useful tool can be turned into something gross or terrifying.

That's right, you won't find characters in the scenario of not having cell service, because we all know that's a cop-out, and over played. Instead you'll see how the telephone can be used in a creative, yet scary way.

10. "Leprechaun" (1993)

While this flick may be more known for being Jennifer Aniston's first feature film role, than being good or scary, the phone scene always stood out to me. "Leprechaun" may not be known for having the best special effects or makeup, the little hand that comes out of the phone is still disgusting. That mutated hand is enough to make me buy a new phone.

9. "The Blob" (1988)

This remake of the 1958 film is one of the greatest horror remakes ever, and one of the only justifiable ones. There's a lot of memorable moments throughout, but I don't think any are as memorable as the phone booth scene. Growing up in the late 80's-early 90's, Bill and Ted made phone booths cool, but "The Blob" made you want to stay away from them.

8. "976-Evil" (1988)

Directed by Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger), "976-Evil" put a new spin on things. Instead of calling a hotline to hear a psychic just read you your future, you dial 976-Evil and you can be granted satanic powers that completely corrupt you. Not to mention, you turn into a demon. A direct-to-video sequel was made in 1992, but it's not nearly as remembered as it's predecessor.

7. "When A Stranger Calls" (1979)

This psychological horror film left an echo to be heard throughout the ages in the horror genre. Often, mimic'd but never outdone, "When A Stranger Calls" will make anyone paranoid. Especially if you're home alone, or even babysitting. The twist is unforgettable, and for its time, was groundbreaking.

6. "The Mothman Prophecies" (2002)

While some completely disregard this film, others see its appeal. With the best scene in "The Mothman Prophecies" involving a phone there's no way it wasn't going to make the cut. When John Klein (Richard Gere) is in his hotel room, talking on the phone to the supposed 'mothman', I remember the theater going silent in terror. It's not just that the 'mothman' has a really creepy voice, he can also see everything going on, even where things are hidden. Creepy.

5. "Black Christmas" (1974)

A lot of people forget that "Black Christmas" is one of the very first slasher films ever made. People credit "Psycho", "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", and "Halloween" as the originals. But, not only is it a granddaddy slasher, it's also a really disturbing piece of cinema. We didn't really get any origins or backstory until the useless 2006 remake landed. But the phone calls made to the sorority girls by a complete stranger, are unsettling, vulgar, and scary. Not to mention the deaths that come after are wicked, and happens on the sorority sisters' Christmas vacation.

4. "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984)

Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is known for vile and despicable acts, but the call made to Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) in the original film, stands out as one of the funniest and grossest things he's ever done. While taunting Nancy, Freddy tries to slip her the tongue over the phone, but to no avail.

3. "Scream" (1996)

When "Scream" hit, it was a very big deal. Not only had new life been breathed into the slasher genre, it also changed the way we looked at our phones when they rang. When Ghostface stalks and kills Casey, (Drew Barrymore) after harassing her over the phone, her death is one of the most memorable opening scene deaths in horror film history. Regardless of the love and hate scattered amongst genre fans, I don't think anyone with an unbiased opinion can deny the effect "Scream" had on its audiences. It spawned three sequels, all of which never lived up to the original, but still gave us all reasons to not answer the phone when it rings.

2. "The Ring" (2002)

If you were a fan of horror, or even just alive when the American remake of the Japanese film, "Ringu" landed, you remember the impact it had. Right there on the cover of the DVD, there's a critic's quote stating: "the best scary movie since The Sixth Sense". While I disagree, no one can deny that aside from the TV scene at the end, the scariest part of experiencing this flick is the phone calls. You just dread when the characters pick up their ringing phone, knowing that what's on the other end isn't good news, and probably tells you you've got a week to live. Aside from phone calls, this movie is notorious for making people never want to watch home videos on VHS tapes. Especially ones you find by their lonesome in a shady looking cabin...

1. "Halloween" (1978)

Of all the weird and eerie voices to be on the other end, and all the random things that can come out of a phone, only one takes the cake for being the scariest. "Halloween" doesn't just get the number one spot just because it's a notoriously terrifying scene, but it's also the most realistic way a phone has been used in someone's demise. Sure, you're not going to get a call from a dead girl any time soon, or have a tongue stick out at you, but you may absolutely find yourself in the situation where someone can kill you via choke. Though this doesn't really work in today's society because most phones don't have long cords anymore. However, Lynda (P.J. Soles) getting murdered while on the line with Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a paralyzingly scary moment. And if it wasn't enough to make you not talk on the phone, it at the very least, had you looking over your shoulder.

There are still films being made today, that are updated for today's times, like "The Caller" (2011) and "Cellular" (2004). And I think the reason phone-based movies keep being made is because it's the perversion of a communication tool that we use for a many number of things, especially calling for help. What happens when the thing that's supposed to get you out of a situation by calling an outside party is compromised by something or someone that wants to do unthinkable acts to you? All you can really do is run. But regardless of if a motion picture is based around phone calls, or just has stand-out scenes involving a phone, I think it's a method of terror here to stay. You don't even need to be a horror-genre picture to have solid scenes with a phone being used somehow.

Just look to the action thriller, "Taken" starring Liam Neeson. "Taken" has the most well-known phone call scenes in recent cinema history. In fact, it's so popular that it's often imitated for laughs. Either way you look at it, you're not safe on the telephone, no matter where it is, or what kind of phone it is. I myself, won't answer my phone unless I know the number calling. Maybe some film characters could take a piece of paranoia from me, it might just save their lives.


Latest from our Creators