The poster for the long-forgotten 1988 erotic thriller Call Me is one of the simplest, yet most effective of its era. A telephone cord wrapped around a woman’s long, nylon-sheathed legs, with the tagline, “Her fantasies could be fatal.” That’s a poster that knows what type of film it’s advertising and does it perfectly.
How does Call Me the film stack up against Call Me the poster, though? Unlike many low-budget erotic thrillers with great posters, Call Me actually lives up to the its bold, evocative poster. It’s a solid, seedy crime thriller shot on location around the gritty late-eighties streets of New York City.
Beyond that, Call Me has the necessary ingredients for an engaging low-budget erotic thriller. First, it’s from 1988, which is right in the sweet spot of the late-1980s, early-1990s heyday of the genre. Second, and most crucially, it features a more than capable actress in the lead role. Not only does Patricia Charbonneau have what it takes for the erotically charged moments—including a phone sex scene that makes interesting use of the orange, a moment telegraphed by the film’s poster—but she also gives a convincing performance as a woman caught in a dangerous, and deadly, game.
You see, young and sexy journalist Anna (Charbonneau) gets an obscene phone call but thinks it’s just her boyfriend being silly, so she agrees to meet the caller at a bar. Once there, she witnesses a murder. After, the crank phone calls from the mystery man resume, with a traumatized Anna and the the sympathetic caller quickly becoming increasingly intimate—both sexually and emotionally. At the same time, some shady characters start following her and it’s clear they’re connected to the murder, somehow. Is the caller linked to the killer? Will Anna live to find out the truth?
There’s much more to the film, including Steve Buscemi and David Strathairn in early roles and Patti D’Arbanville as Anna’s artist friend Cora. The supporting cast is uniformly good, but ultimately it all rides on Charbonneau’s magnetic performance. During her sexy-time phone calls with the mystery man, Charbonneau utters lines that would make most actors blush. She’s also sensational portraying Anna’s dogged and determined journalistic instincts too. The film has plenty of holes, but Charbonneau isn’t one of them. She’s a revelation here.
While Charbonneau didn’t become as big a star as I think she deserved to be, she’s had a solid acting career, largely in television. Today she teaches acting in New York’s Hudson Valley. Interestingly, she went to high school with Call Me costar Buscemi in Valley Stream, New York, about a decade before this film was made. Just a couple of Long Island kids made good.
Call Me is a solid-gold erotic thriller that isn’t afraid to put the erotic front and center at times. That it barely made a blip in 1988 and is largely forgotten today mystifies me. It’s never even been released on DVD, let alone Blu-ray. In my estimation, it’s a hidden gem that deserves more love.
Call Me is streaming on Tubi and, amazingly, on the Criterion Channel. It’s a crisp, good looking transfer, so hopefully a Blu-ray release will soon follow.
One thought on “Lost and Found: Call Me”
You can never go wrong with a good Erotic Thriller I think. I believe I’ve heard of this one before, just never had the chance to see it. Another surprisingly effective Erotic Thriller is Lucio Fulci’s The Devil’s Honey, at first it seems like another sleaze fest out oi 1980’s Italy, but it’s refreshingly so much more.
LikeLiked by 1 person