Hailing from what some of us younger folk refer to as the Golden Age of Horror, SILENT SCREAM was one of the multitude of horror entries that invaded theatres in that lovely year of 1980.
Just think, the year that gave us MANIAC, FRIDAY THE 13th, HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP, WITHOUT WARNING, ALLIGATOR. The list is pretty long and those are just a few of the good ones.
And then there's SILENT SCREAM...
Four college students take up residence in a spooky old house that hasn’t been vetted by the local university as being habitable or safe. But the university has no problem pointing those kids in the direction of that house. Things were different then. Today, you’d get sued for such a thing, pointing kids to their death. Nobody takes responsibility for their own actions anymore.
I also long for the day when you could rent a room in a big house for $75 a month and complain that it’s too much just like Scotty (Rebecca Balding, THE BOOGENS) does. So she takes the smaller one for $50 a month. Back then, you knew if you took a $50 a month room in a spooky old house rented to you by a creepy teen nebbish named Mason (Brad Reardon) and his equally creepy mother (Yvonne DeCarlo, “The Munsters”), there was a territory that it’d come with. Kids today, they’d just leave like the pussies they are.
I’m getting off track here and I apologize. To a certain degree, I was enjoying SILENT SCREAM until I realized that I was 48 minutes into this movie and there’s only been one murder. It wasn’t particularly graphic or shocking. The character that died I could give a shit about. And it takes almost another 20 minutes after that for SILENT SCREAM to barely kick into third gear. The movie is mercifully about 84 minutes without credits.
The real problem with SILENT SCREAM? It’s pretty boring.
Its tech credits are excellent. For a low-budget horror movie from 1980, it’s a pleasure to look at. The music is ominous and well-executed. The acting is a little sub-par but you can forgive it. The character actors on display here (DeCarlo, Cameron Mitchell and Avery Schrieber) are underused. Greydon Clark alumnus Reardon (THE RETURN, HI-RIDERS) and the always stunning Barbara Steele (BLACK SUNDAY, PIRANHA) are the only shining lights.
Really, it ain't bad by a long shot. It’s just not interesting, especially when you consider the controversial bloodletting that was unspooling across the nation’s screens that year. It’s quaint. But a dull quaint. Like TWO murders in over an hour quaint and that’s pretty damn quaint.
I remember seeing SILENT SCREAM years ago on TV and not liking it. This Scorpion Releasing DVD does nothing to change that opinion other than to admire the technical craft on display. The print is fantastic and the sound even better. The extras featuring Ken and Jim Wheat and Rebecca Balding are informative. Seems SILENT SCREAM was a troubled production that the Wheat Brothers (PITCH BLACK, AFTER MIDNIGHT) kind of rescued. Kind of because for all their input into the finished product it’s still a snoozer. Hard to believe it was rated R save for the one Rebecca Balding tit during a tame sex scene.
Is SILENT SCREAM worth your time? It is if you’re trying to watch every horror release from the 80’s. But be forewarned…it’s more of a thriller than a horror show. Whenever you introduce a gun as a murder weapon in what you’re trying to pass off as a horror film, it immediately becomes a thriller. That’s just a fact of life.