The South Atlantic Quarterly
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Recently Hollywood has remade a number of movies from the 1970s, movies in which young women are terrorized by a murderer calling from a telephone located elsewhere in the house. In the remakes, the murderer uses a cell phone, which effectively destroys the sense of space and distance on which earlier horror films were predicated. In one way, these films gesture to Jean Baudrillard's idea of “the transparency of evil,” in that they depict the collapse between the speaking self and the technologies of monstrosity against which the self might be defined. In another way, though, the films proliferate sites of desire from which the telephonic subject searches for connection, even if that connection is impossible to establish. This essay reads the original and the remade When a Stranger Calls and Black Christmas through Baudrillard and Georges Bataille. Ultimately, it finds in contemporary telephonic horror a complex deracination of the desiring subject from its own speaking self.