Scotty moves into Mrs. Engels' seaside mansion where three other college students are boarding. Mrs. Engels prefers to stay in her room in the attic, but her son Mason helps the students ... See full summary »
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James L. Conway
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Scotty moves into Mrs. Engels' seaside mansion where three other college students are boarding. Mrs. Engels prefers to stay in her room in the attic, but her son Mason helps the students get settled. Soon one of the students is killed. The policemen on the case begin uncovering the Engels family secret as the remaining students become endangered. Written by
Ed Sutton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Originally filmed in 1977, the first version of The Silent Scream was so poorly rendered that the actors and actresses had to be called back for a second shooting. The final rendition was released on August 7th of 1980. Directorial new-comer Denny Harris would try his amateurish hand at producing a horror film in particular, that with a zesty Slasheresque appeal. We must keep in mind that by 1977, Slasher films were not formularized and the usual setup commonly found in this sub- genre was slowly becoming more common (Bob Clarks '74 classic, Black Christmas truly got the ball rolling, in my opinion). Unfortunately Harris would not further his career as a director or proceed down the avenue of show business a second time.
The story concerns Scotty Parker, a college transfer who arrives too late to sign up for on-campus housing and is forced to seek elsewhere for suitable living accommodations. On the edge of town she spots a large estate; situated high up on a cliff-side, flanked by the shore line. Through these arrangements she is introduced to two other housemates Peter Ransom, a young college man with a rich father, and Doris Prichart. Jack Towne arrives the following day to complete the group of students. A high-schooler by the name of Mason Engels and his mother own the house. Both mother and son share a tragic past and exhibit strange behavior as a result. After a drunken evening of larking around, Peter, stripped of his faculties, is stabbed to death on the beach by an unknown assailant. A police Lieutenant and his partner spring into action and discover evidence that uncovers the dark history of the Engels family; Victoria, Mason's sister, was committed to a psychiatric ward 15 years earlier. Is she to blame for these grisly crimes?
Barbara Steele (Victoria Engels) a scream queen that solidified her status in 1960's Black Sunday (La maschera del demonio). In 1961 she starred alongside Vincent Price in the Roger Corman, Edgar Allen Poe adaptation, The Pit and the Pendulum. In 1965 audiences also witnessed her appearance in the low-budget chiller Nightmare Castle. If these references don't ring a bell perhaps you've seen her in 1978's Piranha, directed by Joe Dante. The Silent Scream would be Steele's only theatrical appearance of the 80's.
Yvonne De Carlo (Mrs. Engels) A classic film starlet that was born in 1922, De Carlo made her film debut in 1941 and it wasn't until 1964 that she received her break-through role in the comedic TV-series The Munsters. Yvonne's career was not relegated to horror alone, for her work encompassed a wide variety of roles that spanned over the course of 54 years. She passed away in 2007 at the age of 85 from natural causes; the same year that Denny Harris succumbed to a battle with cancer.
Avery Schreiber (Sgt. Manny Ruggins) a multi-talented individual who shared a passion for comedy during the 60's and 70's. For those of you who've seen Robin Hood: Men in Tights he was the tax assessor who took Robin Hood's castle away by a horse-drawn carriage. "Yea, yea. You vow, we move. Let's go boys! Take it out!" I always thought he shared an uncanny resemblance to my high school literature teacher in Junior year. But, as the bearer of bad news, I should inform you that Schreiber died of a heart attack in 2002.
Now that we've reviewed the more well-known actors of the big screen, what about the rest of the cast? Rachel Balding takes on the lead role of Scotty Parker. Balding has done a fair amount of television work but does not hold extensive credit as a film actress. Her inexperience as a theatrical actress is irrelevant, however, as I believe her work in The Silent Scream was above-par from what we've come to expect from low- budget Slasher types. The rest of the cast play nicely in correlation with her leading tone resulting in a job well done. The production values are on queue and don't miss a beat so it's nice to see things pan out the way they should despite a low budget.
The Silent Scream doesn't waste too much time attracting red herrings to a bug zapper. The premise is straight-forward and won't stray too much from your expectations. A slight twist at the end will have you second- guessing yourself but this technique shouldn't be looked at as too severe and the result isn't distracting in the least. The level of carnage is subtle and relies more on clever cinematography and a competent level of editing as opposed to over-the-top bloodshed that many Slashers from the 80's relied on. What we see in The Silent Scream is more representative of how horror films started out - which in my opinion, is a nod to the classics established long ago.
I'm satisfied to end this review on a positive note with a film like The Silent Scream. It will certainly provide you with that dreaded feeling of, "there's someone in the house!" but I wouldn't say that it's downright terrifying. Any fan that deeply assesses horror movies will inform you that a film's expression of fear is not a requirement in the traditional sense; as for you casual fans, why not celebrate a title that pays tribute to the old days? It may be this level of appreciation that transitions you from the leisurely spectator of the genre into a knowledgeable student of dark cinema.
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