Secret Night Caller (1975)

Fred Durant is an IRS agent by day, hen-pecked by his overbearing mother and left frustrated by his sexless marriage. Even his breakfast ritual is sad, as he squeezes an orange and stares out the window, wondering why he goes on. He needs a release and if it has to be calling young women up in the middle of the night and unleashing pure filth on them, then so be it!

Yes, in the 1970’s, we lived in a world without caller ID and cell phones, when we had no idea who was on the other side of the phone. In fact, for years a burglar who had stolen my family’s stereo equipment would call back and tell my mother that he could come back at any time. Years later, he would find religion and call her back, asking for forgiveness.

It’s in that world that we find Fred (played by Robert Reed, who will be forever typecast as the dad from the Brady Bunch, but who knows all about playing a man who is hiding a secret). On his way to work, he dreams about kissing the gorgeous woman next to him in traffic, to the point that he completely loses himself and cars beep their horns at him. If only he could feel that way about his wife (Hope Lange, Bronson’s doomed wife in Death Wish)

Directed by Jerry Jameson (Airport ’77, Raise the Titanic and The Bat People and numerous episodes of Murder, She Wrote), we soon realize that Fred is calling the women from his office, who find him sweet and old-fashioned. And while we never get to hear what he’s saying to them, it’s enough that it leaves them so confused that they can’t hang up.

He can’t even bring himself to tell his therapist what’s really going on. Oh, Fred. Your life is such a mess. At least you can get lost in your world of plants and dote on your teenage daughter (Robin Mattson, Are You in the House Alone?Candy Stripe Nurses). Or get upset when she shows up in a bikini. And throw in that mother (Sylvia Sidney, Damien: The Omen 2 and God Told Me To) and Fred just keeps giving in to his craziness, even if it leads co-workers to wreck their cars and him getting blackmailed by strippers that he has to choke out!

Between this movie and Haunts of the Very Rich, Robert Reed really could bring the acting to small screen movies.

Producer Charles W. Fries has brought us a wide array of films, from Trashin’ to 1987’s Flowers in the Attic and the Lifetime remakes (we did also all three sequels, Petals in the WindIf There Be Thorns and Seeds of Yesterday on our podcast), Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s RevengeTroop Beverly Hills, the Spider-Man TV Movies, The Initiation of Sarah and Amicus’ Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror! What an IMDB page! What an arsenal of films to enjoy!

Sadly, this has never been released on DVD. You’re left to the mercy of the grey market and YouTube if you want to see this for yourself.

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