TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SILENT MADNESS (1984)

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SILENT MADNESS (1984)

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Part of the 80s 3D revival, Silent Madness has an error at a mental hospital releasing psychopathic killer Howard Johns (actor and stuntman Solly Marx) back onto the streets instead of inmate John Howard. Johns returns to the scene of his original slaughter, a college sorority and begins killing again. Pretty Dr. Joan Gilmore (Belinda Montgomery) refuses to be part of the cover-up and heads to the sorority house to stop him. This all occurs conveniently while the girls are leaving on holiday, so no one notices when his victims start to go missing and everyone thinks Gilmore is the crazy one.

Lesser known 80s slasher is directed by Simon Nuchtern from a script by Bob Zimmerman and Bill Milling, who also co-produced with Nuchtern. The result is a very tame slasher with a good deal of it’s kills happening off-screen and those we see, being rather underwhelming. You can count on one hand the times the film throws something at the screen to take advantage of the 3D and one wonders why they even bothered except to take advantage of a current craze. Belinda Montgomery does make for a perky and pretty heroine. She’s both final girl and damsel in distress and, of course, no one believes her that Johns is on the loose, including the lazy town sheriff (Sydney Lassick) and the sorority house mother (Viveca Lindfors). There is little suspense or scares and the ending big reveal isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, as the slasher craze was running out of gas at this point. Even Solly Marx’s silent killer (hence the title?) is kind of dull. Most of the usual 80s slasher tropes are present, so there is that, though not very effectively used by the by-the-numbers direction of Nuchtern. One curiosity is that some of the shots look like they are attempting a Suspiria/Argento look here and there, but even that is handled lamely.

Overall, this was a very pedestrian slasher and one that seemed to be made solely to take advantage of the 3D and slasher crazes of the era. It has the feel of a lazy production and only veterans Belinda Montgomery and Viveca Lindfors put any real effort into their performances. There is very little blood, much less gore and the kills are unimaginative and lame. If you are an 80s completest, it’s worth a look, but definitely a lesser known slasher for good reason. Also stars 80s scream queen Elizabeth Kaitan as a skateboarding babe who winds up one of Johns’ earlier victims.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 mistakenly released psychopaths.

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE UNSEEN (1980)

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THE UNSEEN (1980)

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Exceptionally boring horror finds a newswoman, her sister and a friend (Barbara Bach, Karen Lamm and Lois Young respectively) heading to a small town to cover an event and a mix-up leaving them with no place to stay. They stumble upon an old house, that is now used as a museum and creepy owner Ernest Keller (Sydney Lassick), invites them to use his spare rooms. So, of course, three pretty girls accept an invitation to stay in a spooky old house with a man who is creepy from the get go. No surprise, this old house has a secret and the three young women will soon find out it is a deadly secret.

As directed by Danny Steinmann (Friday the 13 Part V) from a script by Michael L. Grace, this is a dull flick with basically little going on, including a dismally low body count for a slasher and very little blood and gore. It takes almost the whole movie to finally gather a little intensity, when Bach’s reporter Jennifer finds herself in the cellar with the Keller’s hulking secret (Animal House’s Stephen Furst). Unfortunately the hulking secret is more laughable than menacing, so there really isn’t much to make up for the slow pace and lack of suspense we have endured up to this point. Sure, the house is spooky and Lassick’s Keller can be very unsettling, but it’s not enough to make this film scary or even involving and our three lasses aren’t endearing enough to get us emotionally invested. Silent Scream did the whole hidden, crazy relative in the house thing a whole lot better that same year.

Despite what should have been a star making turn in The Spy Who Loved Me, Bach’s career never really went anywhere. She’s a bit wooden here and isn’t really that memorable as a final girl when she finally meets “Junior”. As Junior, it’s almost sad to see Stephen Furst, who gained notoriety as Flounder in Animal House, as, basically, a giant, deranged baby and the effect of his tantrums and efforts to kill Bach are laughable with the way the character is directed. It’s Sydney Lassick who is really creepy and even he goes a bit too over-the-top at times to remain effective. Lamm and Young are fine as Bach’s companions and Lelia Goldoni is sympathetic as Ernest’s abused sister/lover and mother of Junior.

This flick has a reputation, not sure why, but there is something about 80s horrors, even the worst have some sort of following. It was a great decade for horror. This one, however, is dull and even when it picks up, it provides unintentional laughs instead of chills. Barbara Bach shows little of the fire she showed as a Bond girl and the late Stephen Furst’s role is more embarrassing than memorable. I suppose if you’re an 80s completest, you should at least check it out, but don’t expect much.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 very large diapers.

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