Party Line (1988)

This is the most 1988 movie that I have ever seen, one that is equal parts Cinemax After Dark semi-sleaze mixed with last gasp of celebrity, a late model slasher and even giallo-esque elements all with the gimmick of party lines, which before the interest used to dominate the late night airwaves, promising live sex chat for anyone. Oh man, if you could scrape this movie onto a mirror and do lines of it, I totally would.

Seth (Leif Garrett, who we can pretend is the kid from Devil Times Five grown up because, well, that’s totally the truth and that kid was a transvestite and this character is too, so let’s just pretend, OK?) and Angelina (Greta Blackburn, who played Lorraine, one of the aliens on V) are a brother and sister duo who hide out in their family’s Hollywood Hills mansion and use the party lines to lure people into having threeways with them and then slashing their throats with razor blades. Yes, incest and sex is violence and L.A. scum all in one glorious package.

But what if there was a bad boy cop? Oh, there is and his name is Detective Dan (Richard Hatch, who battled Cylons once upon a time). He’s under investigation for all his bad cop antics, but when his CHiP woman gets killed by Seth, he teams up with a psychologist (Shawn Weatherly, who knows a thing or two about cops, seeing as how she was in Police Academy 3: Back in Training) to take on the case.

This is the kind of movie where Detective Dan handcuffs a cokehead to a toilet before shoving his face into the urinal cake while two siblings sex murder a dude in the alley. Also, because this is a late 1980’s cop movie, the boss cop has to be a gruff older black guy and hey, Richard Roundtree is perfect for that role.

The guy who played Simmons in this, Terry McGovern, has a pretty interesting claim to fame. Sure, he was the voice of Launchpad McDuck. But he was also the guy who invented the word wookie. While making THX-1138 for George Lucas, they were riding in a car together and he shouted, “‘I think I ran over a Wookiee back there,” which made the future Star Wars director laugh so hard that the word — which McGovern invented — stuck in his head.

Director William Webb uses Garrett and Roundtree in a lot of his films, which include Delta Fever (which has Martin Landau and Wendi Jo Sperber in it) and The Banker (along with Teri Weigel and Robert Forester). This is the kind of movie that I’d be watching at 1:37 AM on a Friday when I was 16 years old, so in case you thought that I ever did anything productive with my life, you are sadly wrong. At least now I document my movie watching, I guess.

Oh man, I almost forgot that this teenage girl is coercing her friend into calling the party line too and then she goes to the cops and they make her call the party line while they listen to her basically have phone sex. So this movie riffs on I Saw What You Did, but there’s no Joan Crawford to make it better.

That nightclub also looks like it totally came out of a Rinse Dream movie.

You can watch this on Tubi or buy it from Vinegar Syndrome.

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