The Silent Scream Reviews
It's not overly nasty like some other films of its time, and it doesn't have jumpy scares either. But it does have the B-movie atmosphere, bad expository dialogue, Barbara Steele, lots of knife wounds and stabbings, and a great title too.
A must for horror/thriller/mystery fans.
The opening credits still felt very 70's with a police car driving towards the camera, and officers rushing into an old house to find a series of bodies. It doesn't make much sense until the end of the movie, when we can say "duh" to the movie makers for revealing essentially nothing significant.
A cool premise: a group of college kids move to an Oceanside old mansion on a cliff, owned by a mysterious old lady and her peculiar son. There is also something creepy and murderous lurking deep within the walls of the house, watching them. I liked when the killer is watching one of the girls through a ceiling vent in her bedroom.
One by one, the youth would meet up with their doom. The killings, though few, are quite shocking and blood-soaked. Most of the characters were likeable. The one annoying guy didn't last very long. The movie drops a notch halfway through when the killer's identity is revealed and shown onscreen too much. There were a few nice twists in the final act which were a lot of fun.
The movie has a really good musical score, with screeching instruments and suspense building cues. There's a great scene where one of the vicious killings is viewed through the slats of the wall boards. Another good scene has a victim hiding herself in a bedroom closet while the killer repeatedly thrusts a sharp knife through the door frame. It's got that great 80's slasher feel.
Rebecca Balding plays Scotty, a new student who ends up renting a room (for $50 a month!) after failing to find a place on campus. In charge of the place seems to be antisocial teen Mason (Brad Engels), who warns the residents to keep away from his mother (Yvonne DeCarlo), who doesn't talk to anyone and seldom leaves the attic. The other boarders are a trio of college kids, including a love interest, a female best friend type and a rich guy. The group of students gets along well, but after their first night out drinking, one of them is found dead on the beach.
Standard psychothriller twists emerge, as police detectives Cameron Mitchell and Avery Schreiber pop in and out to generally try to figure out what the hell's going on at the house. It may have something to do with the woman living in what seems to be the walls, played by the ever-beautiful Barbara Steele in her only '80s film. Eventually another body turns up, secrets are revealed, and the expected title yelp emerges.
There's nothing particular original or unique about [i]Silent Scream[/i], but it still manages to be an entertaining time-passer. While much of this can be credited to the cast, some of it has to be the writing, which manages to be crisper and more natural than most films of this type. The characters are actually relatively believable and the dialogue mostly comes off as natural conversation rather than blunt attempts to define the characters. Having such a minimal cast probably helped, and the more relaxed feel to the relationships can excuse really odd moments, like the love interest suggesting to Scotty that they go to the beach--[i]the day after one of their roommates was murdered there[/i]. (Note to guys: Ladies do not view a friend's murder site as a great date location.)
Director Denny Harris keeps most of the action inside the house, lending it a nicely claustrophobic tone that's only occasionally disrupted by the adventures of the prattling cops. It manages to be sufficiently eerie and at times even racks up some genuine suspense, and since the characters are actually well-written, the death sequences have some impact. It's a shame that the last-act revelation isn't really all that shocking, thus slightly nullifying the conclusion, because everything up to then builds things up rather well.
Lost in the slasher movie boom, [i]Silent Scream[/i] isn't exactly a lost classic, but it's certainly better than its' obscurity would suggest. It's actually one of the better low-budget horror films of the era, and any movie that gives Yvonne DeCarlo and Barbara Steele a chance to chew the same scenery has got to be at least worth a look.