I had a bit of a tough time deciding on a film for this #Drawlloween prompt: Urban Legend, but then I remembered my deep and abiding love for all things Carol Kane and knew exactly what to do! When a Stranger Calls was one of those old movies on late night TV that really gave me the willies as a teenager alone at home while my parents were out. I wonder if it would be as freaky today given our reliance on cell phones instead of land lines. Heck, I wonder if any of my younger readers will even be able to identify the strange artifact our heroine is holding in her hand in the image (I kid, I kid.)

The urban legend upon which the film’s premise is based, that a psycho killer is lurking inside the house, taunting the nubile young babysitter with repeated obscene phone calls, is actually based on a real-life unsolved murder and rape of a girl in Columbia, Missouri in 1950. Though the killer was not actually hiding in the house with his hand on the telephone receiver, an interrupted phone call to the police with the panicked victim on the other end of the line was part of the true events of the case. This telephone call involvement morphed into the collective morbid imagination and became the murderer, not the victim, being the source of the call.  The urban legend of the “Babysitter and the Man Upstairs” has been featured in quite a few other films besides When a Stranger Calls, including its cheesily named sequel, When a Stranger Calls Back, as well as its 2006 remake. Additionally, Black Christmas features a killer hiding in the attic and terrorizing sorority girls with creepy phone calls, a variation on the babysitter as victim that manages to up the number of nubile young women to terrorize exponentially.  The legend also forms the basis for the opening scene of 1996’s Scream where Drew Barrymore is attacked by a masked killer who first phones her to inform her that he’s going to murder her boyfriend.