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17 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Good word of mouth is building on this one. Slowly, but surely.

7/10
Author: Clint Walker from Illinois, USA
25 May 2004

In the era of the DVD, when video stores already pressed for space now find themselves in the position of having to clear out mucho shelf space to make room for both VHS and DVD copies of the newest Kate Hudson film, many odd and obscure VHS films that have sat for ages are now disappearing.

Sure, many of these films will probably be refurbished on DVD someday, but will these releases trickle down to the rental market? The answer to such a question could really hurt the horror industry in the long run.

For instance, how many people would buy a DVD special edition of "Screams of a Winter Night" if they haven't paid 99 cents to rent it first? If the answer to that is zero, like i think it is, than distributors who dare to spend lots of money attaining the rights to obscure films like this will end up taking a bath when no one buys them.

So, I guess it all comes down to the rental outlet. Which is where my interest in this movie began. One of my local video haunts is a semi-major chain, at least in my area. And it's one that has the biggest rep for stocking odd and offbeat VHS films. But I had noticed that within the last few months, many of these films were being sold off to make room for DVD's like I mentioned earlier. So, in and effort to see as many of these "targeted for deletion" movies before they were gone, I started renting them A through Z.

By the time I reached "Screams," most of these movies were already gone, either bought by geeky film dweebs like myself, or just carried away by the staff.

"Screams" caught my eye thanks to it's thick black clamshell VHS box (an increasing rarity) and odd picture of an indistinct monster trudging through the woods. The title of the film was written in a jagged font that remined me of those off beat comics from the 70's like Marvel's "Man-Thing" or DC's "House of Mystery." The text on the back promised an anthology film, and since I have always had a weak spot for those, I gave it a chance.

I'm glad I did. Over the course of around 90 minutes, I knew I had found that dusty, out of print VHS rarity: The nugget of gold amongst the dirtpan.

The Plot: A group of college students about to graduate travel to a woodland cabin for some R and R. Once there, many of the girls start to feel uncomfortable (something which I'll come back to) after which the guys start telling "true" horror stories they heard from someone who heard them from someone else.

The three tales include:

1. A couple taking a late night drive start hearing scratching noises on the roof of their car. 2. The best of the bunch, and oddly enough, the one people rag on the most, has three frat pledges fufilling their dare to spend the night in an abandoned hospital with a rep for having a haunted second floor. 3. A quiet and shy college girl turns out to be a psychopath, much to the surprise of her roommate.

What surprised me the most was the material in between the stories. There's something really unsettling about this gathering, and the way they all interact with each other. Has anyone out there ever been to a party of some kind where you could just tell the vibe wasn't right? Well, that's what this is like. From the way the girls seem to be uncomfortable around the guys, to the way that the guys seem to be divided into little sub-groups, there's just a feeling that their little trip wasn't going to go well even if evil, supernatural things didn't happen.

As for the stories, yes, that first one is real moldy by today's standards. But you have to keep in mind, that while talk of "urban legends" are pretty commonplace today, back in the late 70's, these legends were just that: Legends, not the stuff of Discovery Channel debunking programs, or community college courses.

It's the second one that really got me. Dark and dingy, with the characters pretty much spending the whole telling cowering near the stairway to the second floor, there's a real feeling of danger as each one of them goes upstairs and dosent come back. The director could have easily copped out and just not showed what the evil green light was, but he did. And while the revelation of the light is a common snickering point among reviewers, I have to admit, something about the unexplainable nature of the explanation has stayed with me to this day.

Add some colorful touches such as the opening sequence: A dark screen backed with increasinly nightmarish sound effects that follow a linear pattern (something which has been done recently in movies like Cabin Fever and the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and an impressive finale where chaos breaks out.

I've seen movies that try to scare by cranking up the wind machine and having the cast yell before. "Screams" is just about the only one where I really felt fear for the characters. These actors may have been amateurs, but when called upon, they really do make the ending of this one sing with apocalyptic passion. I almost expected at least one person to survive only to throw open the cabin door only to find a yawning black abyss.

"Screams" is no four star classic, don't get me wrong. But it is proof that not all zero budget cheapies are made equal. I can see I'm not alone on this one. The call for a DVD release here is small, but definitely there. Hopefully, we'll get what we want someday.

As for the copy I rented, I hovered over it for months, waiting for a "sale" sticker to appear on it. I showed up one day, and it was already gone. Oh well, I hope it found a good home.

As long as it didn't get bought by the same jerk who snatched "Her Summer Vacation" out from under me too. I'll probably never see that film again, no matter how popular DVD's become.

That's another story though.

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A thrilling horror movie

7/10
Author: gaus from Trøndelag, Norway
2 November 1999

A cheap and unknown, but scary horror movie about some teens who travel to a cabin, deep in the forest. On their way to the cabin they get some warnings from a local drunk who scare them with ghosts and other horrible things which took place there some years ago (I wonder if the people behind "Friday the 13th" got some inspiration here). Inside the cabin and around the fire place the kids start to tell scary stories about a blood-thirsty female student and a legend of an Indian ghost. This stories is what the movie mostly is about, but in the end the teens find them selves right in the middle of a rather unfriendly storm which seems to come from nowhere.

Recommended for horrorfans which liked Friday the 13th.

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Scary!

7/10
Author: Scott-212 from Kansas City, MO
11 February 2006

I was 14 in 1979, and my brother and I went to a twin theater in Bowie, Maryland. I don't remember what film we intended to see, a comedy I believe, but when I saw there was a horror movie playing in the other theater I decided to watch it while my brother saw the comedy. So there I was, sitting by myself in the near empty theater with about ten other people sporadically seated throughout. I figured a PG horror flick might be good for some cheap thrills, maybe a few laughs, but nothing I couldn't handle. Then the movie started, and from the scary opening which is comprised of sound effects over the credits through the second story, I was scared nearly to tears by this. It's hard to say exactly what it is, but this movie just has that special "something" that can't be planned, but must come through in the execution. I recently attained a copy of this and watched it again after all these years, and I still think it is quite effective. Reading the other reviews here, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one with a soft spot in their heart for this little unknown movie. To the filmmakers who just might read this, I say ignore the negative critics. That little movie you made way back in the 1970's still holds up well, and has a good creepy atmosphere that many of today's big-budgeted have not a clue of how to accomplish. Oh well, thanks for reading!

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

To this day I rate this as one of the scariest movie I ever saw as a child at the drive-in

7/10
Author: wakeeladee from Oregon State
7 September 2004

When I was 10 years old, I saw the previews for this movie on television. Seeing spooky shows/movies on t.v. and in the safety of my home, I was intrigued as a little girl to see this movie. I begged my family to take us to it when it would come to our local drive-in. It happened to show the week of July 4th in our town. My family and my dad's brother's family all loaded up two full size vans to go see this movie I begged for all of us to go see! My dad and uncle tried to make light of the spookiness for the rest of us by laughing and joking at crucial parts in the movie, but I was already spooked. I got half way through the movie and climbed over the back seat of the van to try and avoid seeing or hearing anymore! It didn't work. I was too curious and would peek over the seat at what seemed to be the worst parts of the film. I was thoroughly scared and regretted that I got what I asked for. This movie gave me more nightmares than any other movie or story I had ever seen, read or heard. Not even the Exorcist or The Shining scared me as much as this movie and I don't know why. The story telling was creepy and the visuals were just enough to frighten!

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Superior anthology

Author: Justin Stokes from Cleburne, TX
5 February 2012

Superb regional horror film about a group of friends who go on a weekend excursion to a lakeside cabin in the wilds of Louisiana. Once there, they start telling each others various "true" stories of the macabre. The place they're staying happens to have a morbid history of it's own, but is it really true? I had been wanting to see this film for many years, but with the tape being exceedingly rare, it took a good while before I got the opportunity. After finally checking it out, it rapidly became my new favorite anthology.

The first story, "Moss Point Man", is a combination of bigfoot tale and old urban legend. It's the weakest of the lot, but it's short. The second bit, "The Green Light", is the best as three fraternity pledges must spend the night in an old building where a mysterious green light has been seen emanating from the upper floors. This one has a unique ending and some creepy moments with the guys hearing sounds from the floors above them. The third and final tale, "Crazy Annie", involves a girl who goes crazy after an attempted date rape. The story is typical, but it's well-acted by the main girl.

That said, this is the only omnibus I've seen where the wrap-around segment is actually the strongest aspect of the picture. The area our characters are staying is said to be plagued by an Indian wind demon. The opening credits are very effective as one family's encounter with the malevolent entity plays out via sound only. Once our main group arrives, John, the one guy who know about the place's history, shows another guy the old house and graves of the family. This is another unsettling scene, one that gave me a "Blair Witch" vibe.

As the film plays out, the wind builds and builds, culminating in a terrific ending. There's also some intriguing subtext about the nature of scary stories and the basis behind them.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Don't Know Why People Hate This

Author: vanity6fan from Ohio Sasquatch Territory!
18 March 2003

This flick is way better than the garbage Hollywood produces today.

I think to truly enjoy this movie you need to be interested in indie horror low budget films. You won't get no Gone with the Wind out of these old films. The stories were interesting, but a little bit more needed to be explained in "The Green Light" story. What was it? The ending could've explained better too. Anyway, this is better than the low budget shot on video trash you end up getting at Blockbuster. I hope this finds a re-release on DVD and in a cleaned up letterboxed format if possible.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

One of the first low budget urban legend horror films

10/10
Author: Me from USA
11 November 2003

This film is a sinful pleasure. Granted it is not the best film to come out of Hollywood, but that's because it did not come from Hollywood. Here is my point: First of all the film was written, directed and produced by kids (early twenties) from Louisiana. The initial distribution was with 4 prints they carried around to their local north Louisiana theaters. After it performed quite well it was picked up by a "Hollywood" distributor ( and of course the kids who made it got screwed). The film then performed very well both here and abroad. Another point is they raised all the monies to make the film(the movie cost less than 2 tickets and popcorn at a theater today) so you got to give them credit. Horror buffs can certainly see where some of the other films borrowed from this little indie. In conclusion, if you have ever thought of or dreamed of making your own film this is worth seeing (if you can find it).

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

hit or miss anthology film. but with more hit then miss

8/10
Author: KINGYDINGY from United States
18 July 2005

a film i first saw in 1979 at the drive in. i was very young, but the'green room' story really shook me up. seeing the film years later it's a really odd and weird film. there's a weird aura to the whole film. its very amateurish, but a lot of it really works. the great ending is bizarre, but haunting. overall a good film to watch for the anthology fan. it's not easy to get hold of. but originals on VHS do exist, though any DVD is a bootleg as of this writing. i'd say overall it really fits the times, as it was filmed in the late 70's. the acting isn't great, but it is pretty fitting for the film. and i'd expect the 'green room' episode to be the favorite story to most.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

individual ghost stories amongst friends in a bigger ghost story

8/10
Author: lilbuny from United States
2 March 2006

this is a movie i saw with the 5th floor back in the day when it came out at the drive in .... some of the scenes in the movie stuck in my head some 30 years later until i tracked down a 15.00 copy off ebay... re-watched it and now I'm not taunted to find it anymore but do not regret getting this nostalgic scary cult classic... worth the watch BUT you must keep in mind that you have to put yourself in the year it came out to watch it not the year were in... that way you can fully appreciate the special effects that were 'from' the day not today.. because they obviously don't compare... well its definitely worth finding... pay for the copy not original that can run you 200+ dollars from places that actually still have a few... thats all... enjoy...

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A Classic...

8/10
Author: awitzel from United States
10 November 2005

The first time I saw this movie, I was a kid and we'd gone to the drive-in. This movie was so deliciously scary that it's haunted me for years! I spent 10 years trying to remember the title and the last 5 trying to find it to rent it. The vignettes in this movie were all scary, and at the time, our local residents were trying to claim the frat brothers' vignette was based on the old Oregon Institute of Technology -- several buildings that were abandoned and haunted. "Gravity Hill", a place where your car could be pointing uphill and you'd put it in neutral and it would roll... UPHILL... existed near old OIT as well.

No big budget, no known actors, and yet it was one of the best scary movies I've ever seen. I want this movie in the worst way. Somehow, somewhere, there has to be a copy!

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