COOL STUFF: SILENT SCREAM (1979) SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY!

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SILENT SCREAM (1979) SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY!

Silent Scream (1979) (full review HERE) is a late 70s/early 80s slasher flick that actually began production before Halloween was released and started the whole 80s slasher craze. Production woes stalled it’s release till 1979, where it quite possibly benefited from the success of Carpenter’s classic. The film has earned a following in it’s own right and is currently available in a special edition blu-ray from Scorpion Releasing.

Four college students may have made a fatal room renting mistake in 1979’s Silent Scream!

 

As for the disc itself….

The high definition transfer of this cult classic slasher looks really good, especially for a low budget film made over 40 years ago. The colors are vibrant and the picture clear, with little wear visible from the original inter-positive source. The film is presented in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio with a 1080 high definition transfer. The sound options give you a choice between DTS 5.1 or DTS 2.0, the latter sounding better if you don’t have a surround sound system.

Now on to the extras….

There are some very nice and informative extras on this disc! This special edition contains three featurettes which include interviews with writers Jim and Ken Wheat along with star Rebecca Balding. Scream of Success:30 Years Later and Silent Scream: The Original Script both feature all three guests, not only talking about the making of the film, but the extensive reshoots and rewrites after the film was initially thought to be unreleasable. The Wheat Brothers: A Look Back has the two sibling writers talking about their careers and how they became involved in the project. There is also a short interview with star Balding discussing this flick and The Boogens. The next extra was bittersweet. It’s the last interview with director Denny Harris conducted over the phone and only days before he passed away. One can tell he is not well, but still passionate and proud of his work. There is also a TV spot, some radio spots, the theatrical trailer and some audio commentary; one track with the Wheats and Balding, and another with legendary horror icon Barbara Steele, which is exclusive to this Blu-ray. Some fun extras!

 

In the Engels’ attic closet, no one can hear you scream as pretty Scotty (Rebecca Balding) finds out.

 

Silent Scream is a cult classic slasher that is a good example of the way these flicks were made after Halloween and before Friday the 13th upped the ante and made 80s slashers more about gore and kills than suspense and atmosphere. It’s not perfect and it’s production problems caused it to be re-written with a large portion re-shot before it’s eventual release. All these years later, thanks to Scorpion Releasing, it’s now getting the restoration and treatment it deserves.

-MonsterZero NJ

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SILENT SCREAM (1979)

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SILENT SCREAM (1979)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

1979 slasher flick finds pretty college student Scotty (The Boogens’ Rebecca Balding), renting a room in the house of the strange Mrs. Engels (Lily Munster herself, Yvonne DeCarlo) and her equally weird son Mason (Brad Rearden). She is there with three other students, Doris (Juli Andelman), Peter (John Widelock) and Jack (Steve Doubet). Soon her roommates start to be gruesomely murdered, one buy one and Scotty may be next. Is the mysterious person sequestered away in the Engels’ attic responsible…or is it someone else?

Flick is directed by Denny Harris with a script by Wallace E. Bennett, along with Ken and Jim Wheat. The film actually started filming a year before Halloween was released, but production woes and major rewrites and reshoots postponed it’s release until 1979. Coming out a year later, the film may have benefited from the success of Carpenter’s slasher hit and Silent Scream became a hit in it’s own right. The film follows a popular slasher plot-line whereas folks are staying in a spooky old house, with some strange owners and a hidden secret stalking the unsuspecting guests. The body count is rather small, as Friday the 13th was still a few months away and would soon make larger body counts part of the formula. The kills are bloody but simple and the pace is moderate, as with most slasher flicks of the early 80s. As per the traditional format, there are some fun, though not unexpected reveals in the last act and it does have some unsettling moments. It’s not very scary, but can be very atmospheric, especially with the old house setting and some effective villains in the Engels.

The cast range from good to simply adequate. Balding makes a solid heroine as Scotty and Steve Doubet makes for a satisfactory hero/love interest as Jack. Veteran Yvonne DeCarlo is creepy as Mrs. Engels, Brad Rearden is effective as her odd son Mason and the legendary Barbara Steele is also disturbing as Victoria, Engels’ demented daughter. Juli Andelman and John Widelock overact a bit as Doris and Peter, while Cameron Mitchell and Avery Schreiber are doing by-the-numbers work as a pair of cops investigating the deaths. Overall, the cast works well enough.

In conclusion, this is a decent enough slasher and one that benefits a lot now from nostalgia. It’s a fun watch and is a good example of the post Halloween, early 80s slashers in terms of body count, pacing and kills, before Friday the 13th came along and upped the ante. The cast work well enough, with Balding making a solid final girl and DeCarlo, Rearden and Steele making a spooky trio as the off-kilter Engels family. There are some amusing reveals and a couple of spooky and disturbing moments. A cult classic in most horror circles, and deservedly so, as a good example of the low budget slashers of this time period.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) carving knives.

 

 

 

 

 

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CULT CLASSIC CUTIES: ANNE-MARIE MARTIN as JESSICA in THE BOOGENS!

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Cult Classic Cuties are characters from some of our favorite cult classics and midnight movies who captured our hearts and/or actresses who got our attention but, sadly, never returned to these type of flicks or whose sexy stars shined only briefly, not quite achieving scream queen status. And this installment’s cutie is…

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ANNE-MARIE MARTIN

While Rebecca Balding’s perky and cute girl-next-door Trish is clearly the heroine of the 1981 creature cult classic The Boogens, it’s Anne-Marie Martin’s sexy, sassy Jessica that got my attention. Whether in a plaid shirt and cowboy hat or running from the title creatures in nothing but a towel, Jessica had a fiery personality and sarcastic sense of humor that made me want to get snowbound in a remote cabin with her…monster infestation or not. Martin gave the character a feisty and vivacious liveliness that made her very crush-worthy and imbued her with smarts and a tinge of girl-next-door charm that kept her from being the stereotypical ‘horny chick’ slasher character that she could have been…and as such, she stole our hearts long before catching the eye of the creepy critters that lurk in the catacombs beneath the cabin in question.
Being Boogens fodder aside, the Canadian beauty also had another genre role in the classic slasher Prom Night and a bit part in the classic horror sequel Halloween II. Martin also had a fairly busy TV career between 1976 and 1988 before retiring from acting and was married and had a daughter with legendary author Michael Crichton before divorcing in 2003!

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 as JESSICA in THE BOOGENS!

(click on the poster for a full review)

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SIDE NOTE: While we were falling for Martin’s sassy and sexy Jessica, Boogens’ director James L. Conway was falling for leading lady Rebecca Balding and the two have been happily married ever since!

Be sure to check out our Cult Classic Cuties (click right here on the link) section to see more crush worthy ladies from cult films and midnight movies!

-MonsterZero NJ

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE BOOGENS (1981)

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THE BOOGENS (1981)

The Boogens is a 1981 horror flick that has become a bit of a cult classic partially due to it’s unavailability for almost 2 decades and partially for it’s amusing title. It’s just fun to say “Boogens”. The film also has sentimental importance to me, as it was one of the horror flicks I saw with friends at the legendary Oritani grind house in Hackensack, N.J. A time when B movies were still released in a theater, where they belong, and a time I now cherish in this direct to DVD and VOD age. Now being given the chance to revisit this low budget chiller, it’s time to answer the question of whether it’s as fun as I remember, or has time and nostalgia created a far better memory than it was a movie. I’m happy to report, it still is a fun flick, although 80s nostalgia does play a part. In a way, Boogens is a quintessential horror for the late 70s, early 80s with it’s slow burn, creepy old man with ominous warnings, and nubile girls in skimpy bathrobes investigating noises in dark cellars. This is exactly the type of movie Ti West paid homage to in the recent House Of The Devil. A few months later Evil Dead would arrive and crank horror flicks up to 11 and Jason was just getting started on his body count.

This 1981 horror stars Rebecca Balding (Silent Scream) and takes place in rural Silver City, Colorado, a small mining town where the mines are being reopened for the first time since a supposed cave-in, 70 years previous. Unknown to two college grads (Fred McCarren and Jeff Harlan) working on the re-opening and their two nubile young ladies (Balding and the equally cute, Anne-Marie Martin), the mines were caved-in on purpose and unsealing the tunnels unleashes our title creatures and they are quite hungry.

Boogens is well directed by James L. Conway…from a script by David O’Malley and Jim Kouf…who also directed pseudo-documentaries like Hanger 18 and In Search Of Noah’s Ark and went on to direct a lot of genre TV, including episodes of all the post-original Star Trek series and the current, Supernatural. He directs with a leisurely pace, but builds some nice suspense and also knows to keep his monsters hidden until the very end. And when we do see them, they are good old fashioned prosthetics. There’s something charming about prosthetics that CGI rarely matches. He gets good performances out of his cast and the fact that they are all very likable helps add suspense when they are in danger. There is some nice gore, but it is used sparingly and the body count is low. This movie was made just as the slasher sub-genre started to gain momentum and before body count became crucial to the proceedings.

Sure, by today’s standards The Boogens is tame, slow and cheesy, but it is the type of horror that they made when I was in high school and I will always have a soft spot in my movie geek heart for them. The transfer on blu-ray is absolutely beautiful and it’s worth a look for horror fans, especially those who enjoy horror from this era. Welcome back, Boogens!

MONSTERZERO NJ EXTRA TRIVIA: Director Conway and leading lady Rebecca Balding fell in love during the production and are still happily married to this day!

Rated a nostalgic  3 and 1/2 (out of 4) Boogens!

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