Ooo! More music!
CD: When a Stranger Calls (1979)
Review Rating:   Excellent  
...back to Index
V to Z
Catalog #:


...or start from scratch

June 12, 2012

Tracks / Album Length:

17 tracks / (46:21)



Dana Kaproff


Special Notes:

8-page colour & B&W booklet with liner notes by producer Bruce Kimmel / Limited to 1000 copies / Available on iTunes.

Comments :    

Dana Kaproff is one of those unsung heroes of the film scoring world, working hard in film and later (almost exclusively) in TV where he established a quiet reputation for some very eerie thriller scores. Kaproff’s skills extend from orchestral to a blend of classical and electronic, but during his formative years he cut his teeth in both TV and a handful of thriller film scores where budgets were lean, but the end result in cases like When a Stranger Calls (1979) and the ludicrous Empire of the Ants (1977) were atmospheric (and fun) works that maximized atmosphere with very modest orchestras.

Stranger remains a genre classic because of Fred Walton’s taut direction, but the film’s unnerving tone owes a lot to Kaproff’s chamber score which more or less cycles through a singular main theme. Comprised of an unsettling introductory chord, grinding string figures, tinny chimes for the film’s unhinged serial killer, and wavering harmonies for the consistently traumatized heroine, the score never offers any respite, and like a classic Twilight Zone score, the atmosphere comes from the close-miked performances as the musicians emphasize vibrato, slowly developed tones, and a repetition of motifs that specifically signal states of stress.

Kaproff also draws from the prolonged chords in Bernard Herrmann’s Psycho (1960), even sticking to a largely all-string orchestra with percussion saved for a few chase cues, but score’s overall slow-burning style matches the killer’s nature - a disturbed man with a seething rage that only erupts when he explodes with a violent act. Most of the time the killer watches, waits, contemplates, schemes, and strategizes; and when he’s just improvising, Kaproff nails the mindset of killer who waits for a moment of vulnerability before pouncing.

Like Walton’s underrated film, Kaproff’s music is a small, chilly study in malevolent psychosis, and a classic example of how to craft mood and compliment character psychologies with just a handful of instruments and creative ingenuity.

Kritzerland’s CD features the complete score in its original mono design, and it’s a terrifying little masterpiece.



© 2013 Mark R. Hasan

_IMDB Entry______DVD Review_______CD/LP Release History______Composer Filmography
_IMDB Detailed Entry______________Additional Related Sites____________Additional Related Sites
Select Merchants ------- ------- ------- BSX ------- Intrada ------- SAE
Top of Page__ CD / LP Index "V to Z "

Site designed for 1024 x 768 resolution, using 16M colours, and optimized for MS Explorer 6.0. KQEK Logo and All Original KQEK Art, Interviews, Profiles, and Reviews Copyright © 2001-Present by Mark R. Hasan. All Rights Reserved. Additional Review Content by Contributors 2001-Present used by Permission of Authors. Additional Art Copyrighted by Respective Owners. Reproduction of any Original KQEK Content Requires Written Permission from Copyright Holder and/or Author. Links to non-KQEK sites have been included for your convenience; KQEK is not responsible for their content nor their possible use of any pop-ups, cookies, or information gathering.