We gave it a B-
Deborah Harry, the smart pinup who used to lead the pop-punk outfit Blondie, does some interesting acting (and even a little singing) in Intimate Stranger. Fronting Blondie, Harry allowed her image and music to hint at a kinky side, but Stranger is virtually all kink — more than an hour and a half of naughty speech and sadomasochistic sex.
Harry plays a cynical phone-sex operator who sits around her apartment all evening murmuring obscene nothings, barely stifling her yawns as she satisfies the fantasies of lonely guys with credit cards. One night she gets a call from a fellow who doesn’t want her to talk; he wants her to listen — to the sound of him torturing and killing a woman he has tied down on his bed.
She assumes the guy wasn’t kidding around — and we know he wasn’t, because director Allan Holzman shows us this psycho scene in some detail — and reports what she heard to the police. But no one believes her — except, of course, for a ruggedly handsome, maverick cop (James Russo) who breaks all the rules while attempting to capture the creep before he kills again.
There’s a lot that’s trite about Stranger, but the movie’s unrelieved nastiness is something new. Holzman uses Harry’s stiff, halting acting style to good effect — she comes across as a cynical woman numbed to life; it takes overhearing a murder to shake her up.
Tim Thomerson is extremely effective as the killer. When he murmurs to his victims, ”Call me master,” he makes it sound like a command he just thought up. His skillfully hateful performance will convince you the violence in Stranger isn’t meant to be misogynistic — rather, it’s designed to make you detest this twisted man. B-