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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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS (1977)

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SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS (1977)

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

Horror comedy has a cheer-leading squad and their coach being kidnapped by a group of Satan worshipers. One of the girls will be chosen as his bride and the rest will be used as sacrificial offerings. That’s it in a nutshell.

Exploitation comedy is directed by Greydon Clark (Without Warning) from a script by he and Alvin L. Fast. It’s a goofy flick filled with bad sex jokes, exposed breasts and Satan worshipers who don’t evoke much fear and don’t seem all that competent at evoking Satan either. A lot of the humor falls flat and the flick seems like it’s made up as it goes along and lacks the charm of Clark’s 1980 extraterrestrial cult classic. One wonders if Clark has treated the material more seriously and let the situation itself provide the humor, it would have been more successful at accomplishing it’s goals. The story is ripe for exploitation fun, but it’s the misfiring dirty jokes and goofball humor that don’t click. There is plenty of skin shown by our pom pom wielding heroines, but the villains just don’t evoke much threat for us to feel like our girls are in any real danger, even for a comedy. The last few moments do click, but it took us 90 minutes to get there and the first act is all lame, naughty high school stuff before our girls even find themselves in peril. It’s one of those flicks where a great title is in need of a far better movie and sadly from a director who can deliver the B-movie fun as Without Warning proves.

Clark has a decent cast here. The veterans like John Ireland, Yvonne DeCarlo, Jack Kruschen and John Carradine all perform well and get the tone of the material, even if their cultists are more comical than creepy. The young cast of unknowns are very uneven, but no one really expects acting from a cast probably hired for their looks, especially our young ladies. Kerry Sherman is the one standout, mostly because she shows the most skin and she seems to be the only one to go on to other roles in film and TV.

As much as I love B-movies and exploitation flicks from this era, this one doesn’t live up to the fun of it’s title. Most of the jokes and goofball comedy falls flat and it’s attempts at horror are equally unsuccessful. There is some fun to be had, the nostalgia is certainly present and at least the ladies look good in and out of their uniforms. It still just seems like a bit of a mess and director Clark was far better combining horror and humor a few years later in the cult classic Without Warning. Worth a look for the 70s nostalgia, but not the midnight movie it could have been with a tighter script and maybe playing it a bit more straight.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 pom poms.

 

 

 

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