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Friday, February 18, 2011

Silent Scream

       A gloomy seaside boardinghouse occupied by college students who can't find on-campus housing is the setting for this lost slasher.  The house is owned by Mrs. Engels (Yvonne DeCarlo), her strange son, Mason (Brad Reardon), and her daughter Victoria (Barbara Steele), who's suffering from a botched lobotomy.  Her surgery has left her elusive and dangerous, and like a dirty secret, she's kept locked in the attic.  On top of all this madness, a mysterious killer with a knife is lurking...

      "Silent Scream" has finally found it way to DVD, and for those of you who haven't seen this little-known slasher flick from 1980, it may surprise you.  I watched it again last night, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  This movie was exactly as I remembered it from 1987 when I first saw it, and I had a blast with it.  This is exactly the type of movie that made me such a fan of horror in the first place.


     Rebecca Balding plays Scotty, who's just a gal out looking for some affordable off-campus housing, and soon finds herself up to her Tenille in the eerie old house full of dark, family secrets and a murderous psychopath on the loose.   Scotty moves into the strange residence, meeting Mason and eventually his mother.  She instantly senses that something is just a little off in this crazy house.  (And boy, is there...)  We're also treated to wisecracking Doris, another residence of the house, along with a hunky college student whom Scotty instantly takes a shine to. Doris is certainly a hoot, but things waste no time turning sinister as we're immediately treated to creepy eyes peering through vents and a frenzied stabbing of another student on the beach.  The student was also living in Mrs. Engels' house, so after the body is found, a police investigation is launched, and the mystery of the mansion and its strange owners is all unraveled.  But not after some serious stabbings occur in the dark, dusty mansion.

     "Silent Scream" is a marvel.  Practically nobody has even heard of this little movie, yet I find it far more entertaining than say, "My Bloody Valentine".  This is a great little slasher, simple and to the point.  It moves along nicely, and you kind of dig Scotty- she's quite likable.  Mason is super weird and creepy, and his mother, (who's actually Lily Munster herself!) manages to be spooky on her own.  But Barbara Steele owns this movie.  She is truly scary in her role- she never utters a word in the entire film, yet completely steals the show. This would be her only on-screen performance in the 80's.

       "Silent Scream" was released slightly before the bloody onslaught of hundreds of copycat slashers, and kind of just got lost in the shuffle.  It's a shame, really, because it's actually quite good.  Predictable and cliched?  Sure.  But it does deliver some genuine shocks and suspense.  And it's chock full of dark cobwebbed hallways, frenzied stabbings, spooky music, and days of atmosphere.  All that on top of Barbara Steele's unnerving, eerie stare...  It doesn't hit you over the head as say "Friday the 13th" did, instead going for more of a disquieting, eerie effect.  It's a nifty mix of Gothic and Slasher flick, and I can't stop talking about the chilling Barbara Steele.   It borrows heavily from "Psycho" and "Halloween", and that's part of what makes it great.  Bottom line, "Silent Scream" is nothing spectacular, but it is a neat and underrated little thriller that certainly deserves an audience.  I love this little forgotten movie.  This is the kind of movie that you might stumble across at 11:30 one night and get completely caught up in.  If you enjoy gloomy mansions, spooky cellars and secret passageways that lead to certain doom, then "Silent Scream" is for you.  And it's available on Netflix!

      The film received a high-definition 1.78:1 transfer with a 5.1 surround soundtrack, so "Silent Scream" looks great.  Nothing you haven't seen before, but this one did leave an impact on me when I first saw it years ago on VHS.


Anonymous said...

Good post and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you for your information.

Waxdude said...

Thank you very much- glad it helped. And I hope you enjoy "Silent Scream" as much as I did!

Anonymous said...

Easily I acquiesce in but I think the brief should have more info then it has.

Waxdude said...

I appreciate your comment- but I'm not here to give a scene-for-scene description of a movie. I'd rather you experience it for yourself. And I don't like spoilers at all. I guess I'm not sure what info you're looking for.

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