Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Barbara Steele, Rebecca Balding, Cameron Mitchell, Yvonne De Carlo, Steve Doubet, Brad Rearden, Avery Schreiber
Directed by Denny Harris
Distributed by Scorpion Releasing
Silent Scream. Honestly, I had all but completely forgotten this flick. Which makes it even sweeter that the new DVD label on the horror block, Scorpion Releasing, has not only put the movie out but has also digitally remastered it and given it a host of DVD extras that would make any director of a current release green with envy. Let’s start with the film itself.
We’re introduced to young coed Scotty (Balding) as she’s trying to find a place to live near her college. House hunting hasn’t been going so well, and she’s starting to get really desperate. Good thing for her that she finds an available room at the old beachfront Engels home along with three other soon-to-be friends (and maybe even a lover).
The house is amazing, yet somewhat sad and foreboding. The surviving members of said family — Mrs. Engels (The Munsters‘ Yvonne De Carlo) and her son, Mason (Rearden) — are a bit on the eccentric side, but who cares, right? These are college kids, and they’ve got not only a warm bed but a beach all to themselves! Location, location, location!
Everything is going along swimmingly until … you guessed it … the college kids end up becoming collegiate corpses. Who’s the killer? The ever so stern matriarch of the Engels family? Her socially inept son? Or could there be a darker secret? These are the questions the film puts forth to you, and while this is insanely familiar territory, Silent Scream is top notch in its execution.
For starters, the film is oozing with atmosphere. It’s thick and almost suffocating at times. Sure, it lacks a bit on the gore side of the fence, but the build-ups are satisfying enough to make you forgive the lack of red. And how about the kids themselves? Normal looking people. In this day and age, that’s unheard of. Slasher movies today are populated by chicks with rock-hard abs and guys with pouty/brooding smiles. Despite its age, seeing folks in a movie who don’t look like they’ve just sauntered off the pages of a magazine shoot was like a breath of fresh air. Then there’s the inclusion of genre favorite Barbara Steele in what could be one of her creepiest performances ever. All these elements, along with the slick, claustrophobic direction of Denny Harris, not only sell this flick, but they really make you wonder how it’s managed to stay lost for so long.
On to the plethora of special features. Want to talk about making a splash with your first release? Scorpion Releasing has done so in spades. Things kick off with a really good commentary track from writers/producers Ken and Jim Wheat with star Rebecca Balding. These folks have great chemistry, and it seems as if they’re just as excited to talk about Silent Scream as we are to see it. Good stuff! The four featurettes comprise well over an hour’s worth of interviews and anecdotes that cover every single aspect of this movie from its start all the way up to the present day. Its only fault is that given the length of the conversations and the recycling of the principals involved, the information starts to get a bit redundant. From there we get the final audio interview with director Harris, who sadly passed away shortly after it was completed. I think this release would have had him grinning from ear-to-ear. Add on the trailer and a TV spot, and we are done.
Silent Scream has finally come home in a package that kicks mucho ass and is waiting to be discovered and rediscovered by fans everywhere. If this is how Scorpion Releasing is going to be treating its releases, then bring it on, baby! Speaking of which — guys … if you’re reading this? Please get us the other Rebecca Balding classic, The Boogens. It’s high time that flick gets its due.
4 out of 5
4 1/2 out of 5
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