Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Did anybody ever tell you, you've got great tits?"

I hopped onto the Silent Scream parade a little late in the game. I honestly had never heard of the film until a few years back, thanks to the amazing website Hysteria-Lives. I quickly bought a used VHS copy and indulged in what, I believe, is one of the classiest slasher pics of the 70's and 80's. I think it's time to re-visit this little lost gem. How good has time been to it?

First, let's inspect the creepy as balls trailer! Seriously, it's, like, one of the best trailers ever!

THE Silent Scream? Isn't that some abortion video? Shit, did I get the wrong movie again?

Silent Scream (or THE Silent Scream as the title card says) starts with a bizarre slow motion police raid on a spooky old mansion, where they discover a gruesome surprise in the attic. From there, we are taken to a super exciting university campus registration session where we are greeted by these beautiful faces...
Um, are you turned on yet? I'm hard as a rock!

One Sally Jessy Raphael bespeckled nutjob, who appears to be either reading from a cue card or in some sort of zen trance, asks pleadingly "Can you tell me where I can get my library card? I need my library card." as if she's a little girl who's just lost her mother in the supermarket.
Sally Jessy called, she wants her glasses back!

I'll never understand why in the Hell women used to want to look like Sally Jessy Raphael. I remember my mom having a pair of those damn glasses too. Was there a period when women were trying to all look hideous?
THIS isn't a good look for anyone!

We meet Scotty (adorable Rebecca Balding) who might sport an unfortunate fluffy hairdo, but at least she's a charmer. After being told that on campus housing is full, Scotty goes on a delightful, zany montage where she meets a wacky assortment of characters. Seriously, these characters are wacky!

Finally, Scotty arrives at a beautiful, but spooky old mansion perched on a cliff right by the sea.
Damnit, Scotty, I trusted you to be the attractive one!

Seems perfect, but once we meet Mason (Brad Reardon), the awkward teenage son of the owner and the other tenants, we just know poor Scotty is about to take one wild ride.
Could he be any more awkward?

There's goof ball Doris (Juli Andelman) and with a name like Doris, how could she not be at least slightly goofy.
Shit, Doris, not you too! I hope Sally Jessy got a profit off this movie!

Professional ass hole Peter (Jack Widelock).
Just look at that smug bastard!

and let's not forget obvious hunky love interest Jack (Steve Doubet).
Yes, there's a saxophone solo on the soundtrack right now.

It's a strange, eccentric group that one wouldn't find in films these days. First of all, none of them really look like professional models like they all do today (even though Rebecca Balding is quite the cutie) and they're all pretty, eh, quirky.
Blow, doris, Blow!

Did I forget to mention that Scotty meets the silent Mrs. Engels (Yvonne DeCarlo) in the attic? Yes, Ms. DeCarlo isn't the only star slumming it here. We've got Cameron Mitchell AND funnyman Avery Schreiber as cops.

Truth be told, every time they come on screen, the plot screeches to a grinding halt.

After a night on the town, ass wipe Peter tries to fondle Doris spouting such romantic dialogue as "Doris, did anybody ever tell you, you've got great tits?" Peter ultimately finds himself drunk and alone on the beach when he's visited by company.
Thank God! That guy was annoying.

Once Peter's body is discovered, the movie slows down for a little while as Mitchell and Schreiber showup and question all the boarders while Mason acts suspicious. One of Mitchell and Schreiber (sounds like an old vaudeville troupe)'s best moments comes when Mitchell asks "Do you know what kinda knife it was?" to which Schreiber responds "Yeah, real big...and real sharp!" No shit, Sherlock!

Doris mopes around doing laundry, acting like she lost a family member and not a man who tried to molest her on the beach, while Scotty and Jack go swimming and share more saxophone scored make out sessions including one where Doris listens to them make love through the air vent. Oh, jeez, Doris! I thought you were soooooo sad about Peter and meanwhile you're horn doggin' around eavesdropping on people having sex.
What a creepo you are, Doris!

Thankfully, our mystery killer puts Doris out of her repressed misery in a pretty violent, yet wonderfullysubtle sequence. Have I mentioned yet that every death scene practically has the exact same Bernard Hermann "shower scene strings" from Psycho on the soundtrack? No? Well, it's true!

Jack leaves and Scotty starts snooping around and pretty soon, she finds herself in a cavernous attic/air vent/installation (?) tunnel where she's dragged inside a small little girl's room where our killer is finally revealed to be....
Yes, ladies and gents, the great Ms. Barbara Steele!

Barbara does great here, not uttering a single word and using those magical eyes of hers to convey fear,confusion, anger, etc. It's kinda of a treat to see her here.

As the finale gets closer, dark family secrets emerge like something out of Lifetime movie and it turns out that Mrs. Engels really CAN speak and she isn't Mason's real mother...Victoria (Barbara Steele) is! Victoria tried to kill herself while pregnant and we're treated to a surreal sequence where young Victoria resembles a young Winona Ryder. She also got stuck in a mental hospital where she was lobotomized. I think it goes without saying that whoever lobotomized her should be fired.

Winona? Is that you? Talk about a Girl Interrupted!

How can one not love the finale of a film that gives us these great images?
Good times!

Silent Scream ends where it began with the cop raid coming full circle and closing the lurid case once and for all.

I'll be the first to admit it, there's nothing really too special about Silent Scream. It's well acted, competently made, has a bombastic orchestral score, and a few good set pieces, but it's really isn't anything we haven't seen before.

While it was released after Halloween, filming actually began in '77, so it's far from a rip-off of that '78game changer. It owes more to pulpy mystery tales and old, dark haunted house films of the 30's and 40's, not to mention Hitchcock's classic Psycho, from which it takes more than just a few pages from.

Silent Scream is actually a pretty decent, creepy movie and a fun nostalgic trip back to the 70's, where apparently, everyone wanted to look like Sally Jessy Raphael. It's now out on a fantastic remastered DVD with tons of great special features. It's a must for fans of the movie!

In other news, I've just scored a first look at promo art for the long awaited sequel.
I smell box office gold!

8 out of 10 lobotomized knife wielding dames!


  1. Great pictures. This movie looks totally gross.


  2. Thanks. It's pretty awesome little movie! I throughly enjoyed it. It's more or less pedestrian, but there's a certain charm that really pulls you in.