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  • Warning: Spoilers
    Whilst this is by no means a great film I found it intriguing. As a film starring one of my favourite actresses (Charlotte Lewis) I have long sought it on DVD and now I have watched it I am glad that I have managed to add it to my collection. The premise of the story is a lovely young model who seems to be haunted and attacked through various phones. Perhaps the idea is not well realised through the film but I understood the plot and the final denouement was neatly executed. Could easily visualise this as an X-File and dare I say that Charlotte made for a lovely Scully to broaden the parallel!! For Charlotte fans, like myself, I would recommend it but as a casual viewer you might find it lacks the impact you might expect from other films in the genre.
  • Ring! Ring! Have-been horror directors hotline, how may we help you? Um…yeah…Pronto! I mean hello, my name is Rugge… err, call me by my initials R.D! Okay Mr. R.D, what seems to be the problem? Well the reviews on my latest movie "Dial: Help" were all negative and harsh and, frankly, I myself feel like my career has seen better days as well. Okay Mr. R.D, and why do you suppose that is? Well, I gained fame and a well-deserved cult status thanks to my controversial and shocking movie about savage tribes of cannibals devouring a film crew and another one about relentless thugs terrorizing wealthy people in a house at the edge of the park, for which I borrowed the idea from Wes Craven, but "Dial: Help" revolves on … err… never mind! No no, Mr. R.D, go ahead and tell me what the film is about. Um, it's about a spiritually possessed phone line stalking a sexy model and killing the people surrounding her. Ah, I see. That premise does indeed sound a little silly and not as petrifying as cannibals or rapists, but I suppose there are deeper themes in your film, right? Oh yeah, sure… Um, what do you mean by that? Well, isn't the phone line symbolism for another kind of terror? Or perhaps it's all just happening in the mind of your female heroine? Um, nope… It's just about a phone going berserk and murdering people with the cord, vibrations, electricity or even ordinary coins. Interesting, Mr. R.D, but how do you explain all this supernatural stuff to the viewer at the end of the movie? You see, I figured the slowly unraveling phone-mystery plot wouldn't be that important or relevant, so I just concentrated on processing all possible phone-gimmicks I could think of. Phone gimmicks? What do you mean? You know, like wind blowing through the horn, mind-penetrating dial tones, and turn-tables catapulting into the air! Very original, Mr. R.D, but not exactly horrific and as an experienced director you must know that, in the end, people expect a reasonable clarification of all these events. Oh, but there is! It all has to do with negative and unreleased energy, if I remember correctly! It's all a bit fuzzy, I admit. Hmm… I see. Oh well, as they always say, a good motion picture relies on more elements than just the story. Did you at least process some of your regular trademarks into the film, so that your fans at least recognize your style? I tried! Lord knows I tried, but the murders and bloodshed are simply not shocking anyone! That's a pity indeed, Mr. R.D, but what about sex? Everyone likes a good portion of sleaze and nudity in their horror films and you said yourself the film centered on a sexy fashion model in peril! Yes, but … But what, Mr. R.D? Well, to tell you the truth, we kind of promoted "Dial: Help" as an erotic thriller with revealing shots of Charlotte Lewis on the cover, but in reality there's no sex in the film and Charlotte even refused to go topless. Mr. R.D! Now I'm really disappointed, that's just shamelessly ripping people off and lure them with false promises! I know, I know, and I'm ashamed, but I just wanted everybody to rent "Dial: Help" and love it! Well, to round up I can comfort you by saying that every major director is entitled to a few erroneous decisions without it affecting his/her career immediately, but be more cautious next time and do some research first, okay Mr. R.D? I will; thank you! You're welcome. Tell me, have you got any ideas for upcoming movies already? Yeah, as a matter a fact, I do! I was thinking about making a Giallo with a murderous washing machine! Doesn't that sound fascinating? Hello? Hello?
  • A stunningly beautiful Charlotte Lewis stars as a woman who is terrorized by a ghosts who torment her on the phone.Driven to the edge in terror Charlotte is forced to confront this chilling mystery in order to save her sanity and her life.I can't believe that Ruggero Deodato,the director behind "Ultimo Mondo Cannibale","Cannibal Holocaust" and "House on the Edge of the Park" directed this absurd piece of trash.Admittedly the music by Goblin front man Claudio Simonetti is pretty good,but the story is painfully stupid.The script by Franco Ferrini is ridiculous and it makes no sense,the acting is bad and there is absolutely no suspense.The scene in which a prospective rapist of Charlotte Lewis is killed by coins ejected from a subway telephone is more than laughable.Don't waste your time with this piece of crap.There are far better Italian horror movies out there!
  • I don't get the overwhelming negativity directed at this film. It's quite entertaining and has an unique supernatural premise, with lots of traditional giallo atmosphere thrown in. People die in very giallo like ways. And Charlotte Lewis' energetic performance in lingerie for the last half hour makes up for any disappointment you might feel about the lack of nude scenes.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Good old Ruggero Deodato. He made his name in the late '70s/early '80s with his video nasty cannibal flicks, and then he delivered a series of ridiculous horror films in the 1980s along the lines of BODY COUNT, PHANTOM OF DEATH and DIAL: HELP, the most ridiculous of them all (at least THE WASHING MACHINE didn't feature a killer appliance!). Perhaps the most surprising thing about this film is that, in a way, it works. Sure, it's a stupid as the killer snails in Lucio Fulci's AENIGMA, but that doesn't stop it from being an enjoyable effort – for all the wrong reasons.

    The biggest draw for the male viewer is the actress in the leading role. Charlotte Lewis might be forgotten today, but back in the late '80s, she was a big star after her turn in THE GOLDEN CHILD. Why she signed up for this role is unknown, but the emphasis is on her throughout: perhaps surprised that he got a popular actress in his film for once, Deodato strives to include Lewis in almost every shot. Her acting might not be so hot, but Lewis certainly is an utterly beautiful woman, half-British and half-Arabic. She emits oozing sexuality throughout the flick and guys will be in for a treat, as she strips down to some sexy underwear for basically the last half hour, with some brief nudity thrown into the mix in a hilarious, inexplicable, frolicking bathtub moment. The sexiest woman ever seen in a film? Possibly – she sure is up there at the top.

    Now, it's important to remember that the 1980s was the decade of excess, and nothing was done in half measures. You think the idea of a killer telephone is stupid, you know there are going to be plenty of ridiculous scenes in this film. I was surprised, though, at how effective some of the supernatural moments are: shots of a neglected office, complete with a corpse in the cupboard, are atmospheric and fun's to be had from the spooky voices and noises from the receiver, like in WHITE NOISE. Such moments are tempered by the utterly ridiculous kills thrown in every now and then: folk are strangled by telephone cords and electrocuted, while two particular deaths are notable for their cheesiness. The first is cameoing William Berger, whose pacemaker explodes out of his chest in an ALIEN-style kill. The other is a would-be rapist, hunting Lewis in the subway, who's killed when coins fly out of a public call box, hitting him with the impact of bullets! Also be sure to check out the delirious climax, in which Lewis is strapped to a desk with tape, while menaced by possessed fans and scissors. All cheesy highlights in a fun B-movie.

    Another surprise is Deodato himself: he does good work here, putting in some nice chase sequences, especially with that creepy guy in the subway. His camera-work is quality and he adds a veneer to the film that it probably shouldn't have. Alright, so the acting isn't up to much – especially the awful Carola Stagnaro, who I was surprised to find appeared in Argento flicks – but when a film is this much fun, you don't care. DIAL: HELP: the epitome of '80s cheese, a dumb idea resulting in an oddly successful little movie.
  • Man, it's really difficult to make a haunted phone seem scary, eh? Ruggero Deodato tries his best, but I can't help get the feeling that it might have occurred to him halfway through that this might not have been the best idea. However, what you have is the eightiest looking late eighties Italian horror ever. Eighties! Model Jenny arrives in Rome looking for her buddy Marco, but ends up dialling the wrong number and getting through to a haunted answer machine system that lives in an abandoned building left over from Blade Runner. After killing a random cleaner with a telephone cord around the neck, the ghosts now start stalking Jenny all over Rome, via the power of the telephone exchange! Just as well mobile phones weren't widely available by this point or Jenny would have been screwed.

    She goes to her apartment (which, strangely, is full of pictures of herself), and also meets neighbour Ramon (I think that was his name) who has the hots for her. She's also got another buddy and there's a photographer called Carmen too. God, it's hard enough to sustain a review of this film, which should give you an idea of what it's like to actually watch it.

    The haunted phones basically stalk Jenny around the place, killing of her mates (Carmen is stalked by a phone in a rather unscary sequence), and Deodato starts throwing everything he can at the screen, from a would be rapist being torn to shred by flying phone tokens, to Jenny getting all possessed, wearing lingerie and writhing about in a bath filled with what looked like pish, to William Berger turning up for about thirty seconds before his heart explodes out his chest. Berger, as an aside, seems to be the John Carridine of late eighties Italian horror, turning up in Maya and Spider Labyrinth (both of which are better than this film).

    Mind you, all credit must be due to actress Charlotte Lewis. Having to looked scared (or turned on by) a telephone is hard work, as is spouting lines like "The telephone is trying to kill me". The film is helped by being set in Rome too, so you'll get to see the Piazza Navona, Castello Sant' Angelo and the Spanish Steps as Jenny goes around being told not to use phones and then using phones. Ruggero's no Bruno Mattei when it comes to directing either, so it's all done rather well…except it's about a haunted phone.

    In fact, now that I remember, Ruggero made a film about a haunted washing machine too, so maybe he thought it was a good idea? This one was okay but most of the grade here comes from the high cheese factor.
  • This is only the fourth effort I’ve watched from this director (whom I met and found quite genial at the 2004 Venice Film Festival Italian B-movie retrospective) and also, possibly, the worst. As was the case with THE BRONX EXECUTIONER (1989), which preceded it, this is a prime example from the tail end of the Euro-Cult era – prime because it shows the depths to which the previously invigorating style had fallen by this time!

    Here, in fact, we get a plot revolving around – I’m not kidding, folks – a killer phone! Pretty but bland Charlotte Lewis – in her third film after PIRATES (1986) and THE GOLDEN CHILD (1986) – is a model who, apparently, has just ended an affair; she keeps expecting her architect lover to call her back but, every time the phone rings, all she gets is static accompanied by voices from the beyond (or some such crap). She befriends a new tenant at her apartment block who, conveniently, knows of an authority on paranormal activity (William Berger) – who, hilariously, explains that the negative energy which is unleashed, say, during family arguments can manifest itself via home appliances into a deadly force (I swear I ain’t making this up)!

    Among the of the film are: the grumpy bartender from whose dingy place the heroine calls a couple of times (it seems that the chain-of-events can only be broken by having Lewis go through her paces again, EXTERMINATING ANGEL (1962)-style!), the sheer variety of preposterous-looking phones on display, the apparatus of the heroine’s photographer friend sneaking up on her before the kill, the sarcastic cop who greets Lewis on reporting the strange occurrences (“And what’s the toaster up to, I wonder?”), the would-be rapist killed by a barrage of coins shooting out from a telephone booth, and Berger’s own bloody demise (with the phone affecting the pacemaker he’s fitted with and causing the doctor’s heart to explode)!

    The film’s climax is rather confusing and, apparently, finally sees all the ‘lost souls’ inhabiting a flock of doves and flying out the window of the ‘possessed’ office (a lonelyhearts service!). For what it’s worth, the score – by ex-Goblin Claudio Simonetti no less – is effective enough, despite the inclusion of dated heavy-metal numbers on the soundtrack.
  • I admit, I was taken in by the provocative stills of Charlotte Lewis from this film, as well as a comment on the IMDb message board devoted to her, calling this picture a "great underrated film". And so I got, with great difficulty, my own copy of "Dial Help".

    What a waste.

    Nothing but a cheaply-made blood and gore movie with a ridiculous premise which I'm not even going to repeat, with several telegraphed sequences (for instance, when we see Lewis lovingly feeding her fish, we know right away what's going to happen to them later). Not even Lewis, with her beautiful raven hair, large and luminous brown eyes, full and pouty lips, and stunning figure, can save this film. Lewis fans would be better off with "Bare Essentials", "Sketch Artist", or even "Golden Child".
  • crazy-2319 February 2000
    What a sales gimmick! This is certainly not an erotic thriller. There is a fraction of a second nipple flash at best, and this is while….being seduced by….her possessed TELEPHONE! She spends the entire movie running around screaming and terrified by eerie sounds on possessed telephones around the city. Through the stupid chaos of telephone cords attacking people, fish dying from telephone squeals, and quarters shot out of a pay phone killing a guy, this movie should have been placed in the low budget horror section. It doesn't earn the title thriller or erotic in the least! For a better movie with Charlotte Lewis see Bare Essentials instead.
  • Aylmer17 June 1999
    It is truly saddening to see a once-great director such as Deodato delivering such a second-rate giallo such as this. This movie was so terrible it effectively put an end to his movie career. The box lies, this is no "erotic thriller", hell during the film's 97 minute running time, Charlotte Lewis barely shows us one nipple! I thought it would pick up once William Burger showed up (in one of his last roles), but his character is killed off rather abruptly and lamely. This movie fails in pretty much every way. Claudio Simonetti's music is little more than noise, and the plot made very little sense at all. For some reason, Lewis is terrorized by ghosts which attack using phones. (?) By the end, the characters all seem to have forgotten the previous 90 minutes of hell they went through, and casually laugh as they sick the evil spirits on someone else, Lewis's ex-boyfriend. What?!? This movie did little for me besides anger me.... and bore me half to death. For genuine 80's Deodato fun, watch THE BARBARIANS or THE ATLANTIS INTERCEPTORS, let this one rot on the video store shelf. Argento could make a better giallo than this!
  • Jenny Cooper (Charlotte Lewis), a beautiful English model living in Italy, dials a wrong number, connecting to a long-unmanned hotline for the lonely and suicidal; in doing so, she unleashes a reservoir of negative energy that follows her via the telephone and kills those around her.

    As the above synopsis suggests, Dial: Help is a decidedly silly '80s Italian horror, full of ridiculous death scenes in which victims are choked by telephone cords (one woman is literally hanging on the telephone!), struck by coins ejected from a payphone, electrocuted by switchboard, and killed by exploding pacemaker. Even the fish in Jenny's aquarium aren't safe, the telephone in her apartment emitted a high pitched tone that sends them all floating to the surface.

    Director Ruggero Deodato (of Cannibal Holocaust infamy) handles the craziness with style, using wind machines, lots of coloured light, an excess of smoke and plenty of neon (there is even one of those horrible '80s neon phones that tries to zap Jenny in the bath), but realising just how daft and consequently unscary the film's premise is, he resorts to getting Lewis into some sexy lingerie for the final act. Not that I'm complaining, of course: Lewis in black basque, stockings and suspenders just about makes up for her horrible wooden performance.

    4.5 out of 10, which I might have rounded up to 5 if the character playing the jazz flute had died.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Jenny (Charlotte Lewis, The Golden Child) is a model who has just broken up with her boyfriend and expects him to call her back. Somehow, she gets connected to an abandoned lonely hearts phoneline, which is populated by the dead souls of its former operators, all of whom know how to use telephones from beyond to kill people in some truly innovative and completely insane ways.

    Who can we thank for such magic? Ruggero Deodato, that's who. Here, he's working from a story by Franco Ferrini, who wrote the Argento films Phenomena, Sleepless and Opera.

    If you haven't guessed it yet, I'm a huge Deodato fan. Cannibal Holocaust? Body Count? Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man ? He knows how to make a movie.

    Let me tell you, this movie looks gorgeous. There's nothing like the colors and look of Italian genre cinema to make me happy. And I love how over the top this movie gets - which is somehow about a phone line for people who had their hearts broken, which has since been abandoned but all of the operators are dead and can reach out from the other side to kill people.

    Oh yeah - somehow these ghosts are able to hypnotize Jenny into putting on her finest lingerie and writhing in a bathtub. Because, um, art?

    Anyways, the ghosts all live in the abandoned phone line office, which is now filled with pigeons and cobwebs and phones that like to kill cleaning women.

    This movie is basically about phones killing people. A payphone shoots quarters at people like bullets. The sound from a phone rips a guy's pacemaker right out of its chest. And phone cords lynch friends and slice them apart. This is the fate the telemarketers that bother me so often should endure.

    All this blood and mayhem is set to a Claudio Simonetti soundtrack. None of it makes any sense, but who cares? It's more fun than any movie I'll see in the theater this year and between the colors and camerawork, it's an impossibly striking piece of film.

    Lewis also makes for a perfect Italian horror heroine. She never did much horror other than this film and Embrace of the Vampire, a sleazy slice of direct to VHS junk that burned up the rental shelves thanks to scenes with Alyssa Milano interacting with Lewis.
  • Well, I was hoping I'd heard wrong about this film as I'm a big fan of Ruggero Deodato and really didn't want to see him slip up; but unfortunately, this Giallo-styled supernatural load of nonsense is just as bad as I'd been lead to believe it would be - and that's pretty terrible! The plot doesn't work at all, as the film attempts to blend murders and a supernatural theme through a telephone and it all feels very forced and silly. Furthermore, the plot doesn't make much sense at all, and you have to ask yourself "what's the point" numerous times throughout the movie. The plot focuses on a young woman living in an apartment block and being terrorised by a telephone. The best thing about the movie is undoubtedly the presence of the beautiful English actress Charlotte Lewis, and unfortunately the good points pretty much stop there. There are a handful of deaths scenes, some of which are gory; but all of which are incredibly stupid, the one that sees someone get killed by coins sticks out especially in that respect. Overall, I really can't recommend this to anyone; non-Deodato fans are unlikely to impressed, and Deodato fans are likely to find the film depressing. Avoid!
  • This film is embarassing. All the way through, I was waiting for the Deodato twist, or the cool disturbing symbolism, or even a hint of great Deodato camerawork, but, sadly, I was still waiting when the end-credits began to roll.

    Definitely the lowest point in Ruggero's career. See House At the Edge of the Park instead, and steer clear of this cringe-making killer-telephone rubbish.
  • Don't be fooled by the plot out-line as it is described on the cover (at least the Swedish version). The story on this seems rather interesting, with speculative hints. Nothing can be further from the truth. This is the absolute most sad movie experience I've ever had... It is plain and right AWFUL and should not be sold or rented to anyone. If you still think the plot seems intriguing, reflect on this: telephones can move, run and kill people as can also any other electric appliance. It can throw things at you, haunt you and run after you. PLEASE DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE it is a disgrace for the horror genre...
  • mrdonleone14 November 2019
    I can't believe I wasted that much time on such a stupid movie is dial help of course we love all of us bill of cannibal Holocaust by who give up their daughter but I'll help or a dimaio's or whatever it is in Italian is really stupid movie The promise is okay because of course we all like to see the previous episode of movies such as ring and other ones built VW the phone is very original and very good but it's done so badly and it that you expect something erotic because it signals and turn the label doesn't erotic movie but it's nothing wrong and then you also finds and that is just all plain stupid nothing about this movie is great maybe the photography and choreography is nice but for the rest it's stupid and it for the rest we see copycats of nacho. She's New York ripper and of course it's not good and a little bit of of copy from here to copy from there from antonioni we don't know all of this is pure stupid then and it's impossible to like this movie that sit in silence