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Robin Atkin Downes,
The uncle of an executed murderess relates four stories of his hometown, Oldfield, to a reporter: an elderly man pursues a romance with a younger woman, even to the grave and beyond...a wounded man on the run from creditors is rescued by a backwoods hermit with the secret to eternal life...a glass-eating carny pays the ultimate price for looking for love on the outside...and Civil War soldiers are held captive by a household of orphans with strange intentions for them. Written by
Brian J. Wright <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Very worthwhile horror anthology without the dark comedy
From A Whisper To A Scream (aka The Offspring) looks to me to be one of the films MGM has recently released from their back catalogue. The film is a pretty solid horror anthology comprised of a wraparound story starring Vincent Price as an historian who tells of the morbid supernatural goings-on in the town of Oldfield to a reporter who comes to dig up dirt on the man's recently executed niece. We get four segments and each has its own gruesome twist in the vein of EC horror comics. That said, the film is played straight for horror shocks and does not go for black humor like other horror anthologies have been known to do.
The first story is a sick charmer starring Clu Gulager (unrecognizable under heavy makeup) as Stanley Burnside, a creepy old poindexter who is driven to murder after a lifetime of caring for his needy sister. This is probably the best segment of the film as Gulager really plays up the cringe-worthy curmudgeon to perfection. Needless to say, everyone who does bad in this film gets their just desserts in an outcome that is basically a hell of their own creation, keeping with the well-known tradition of horror anthologies.
The second and third segments are each pretty good in their own right and are kin to the type of hard-boiled shorts that appeared in HBO's Tales From The Crypt. The second segment introduces us to Jesse Hardwick, a small-time swindler who is taken in by a long-lived voodoo man after he is shot by someone he wronged and collapses in a field. This is a decent revenge story with some nice grue in the finale. The third story is about a glass eater who is part of a carnival. When he tries to skip out on his fellow carnies for a girl, their leader, a sorceress, makes damn sure he and his girlfriend learns who's the boss. This one's got some pretty nice (if not technically masterful) splatter fx.
The fourth story is a Civil War-era take on Children of the Corn or the Star Trek episode "And The Children Shall Lead." A small squad of corrupt Yankees are captured and subjected to bad things by a town full of orphaned children who worship a mysterious thing called "the Magistrate." This one's got plenty of nice grisly moments and features veteran horror actor Cameron Mitchell as the sergeant of the unfortunate Yanks.
All in all, From A Whisper To A Scream is top-notch, if easily predictable, tome of tales that packs lots of atmosphere and frights into its runtime. The filmmakers have hand-picked a very capable cast that delivers. This film reminds me of the sort of thing I would've loved as a kid and it still impressed me a lot today. I would highly recommend this to anyone who digs Creepshow, Night Gallery, or Tales From The Crypt. I give it a 7.5/10.
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