Long before Wes Craven used the title "Scream" to launch his successful horror trilogy, little-known director Byron Quisenberry made this "Scream". An inept, boring, badly acted and totally unconvincing slasher movie that many deem to be the worst of its type. Indeed, this film makes the whole Friday the 13th series look like a work of genius.
You know with these movies that the plot is going to be unoriginal, but the film makers usually have enough about them to wring out some shocks. Yes, The Burning is a bad film but it occasionally makes you jump. Just Before Dawn isn't anything special, but it is punctuated by the odd jolt here and there. Amazingly, Scream manages to miss every single opportunity for a shock. It takes an overused but reliable formula, and proceeds to muck-up the potential for terror in every conceivable way. Anyone studying how not to make a film might find this an ideal guide.
Heading the cast is Pepper Martin (he was the guy in Superman II who beat up the weakened Clark Kent in a diner, only to be beaten up in return by the rejuvenated Superman at the end of the film). It's a good indication of how unambitious this film is that someone who had such a miniscule role in Superman II can be entrusted with the leading man label here. Woody Strode is also in the film, but his character is undone by bizarre scripting.
Martin and his fellow vacationers are rafting down the Rio Grande when they pull in for the night at an isolated ghost town. One by one they are picked off by a lurking psychopath. They try various things, like setting traps, but the killer seems to evade them every time. A strange stagecoach driver turns up and starts mumbling on about an old sea captain that got the town up-and-running many years earlier. By the end, it looks as if the violent ghost of the old sea captain may be the killer (it's not clear if this is so, as the ending is dreadfully muddled).
It's hard to imagine how bad Scream is without experiencing it for yourself. The plot could be made serviceable. Some of the cast members are well-known. Even if the film isn't very good, it should have enough mileage to be tolerably bad. But no... this film is something beyond bad. It reaches such depths that you begin to think that everyone involved must be trying deliberately to make the worst film possible. It feels almost as if Quisenberry's intention is to win the worst film of all-time contest. The end result is a truly awful horror movie and, therefore, one of the most irresistible films that a collector of bad films could ever hope to find.
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