FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Aug 4, 2010

oxymoron ahoy!

I hate to say it, but Silent Scream (1980) is essentially the filmic version of that old "she was hot until she turned around joke"- you know, where a woman, shown from behind, has a great body but then turns around and is- GASP- not beautiful (or worse, actually a dude- GASP AGAIN). I believe this phenomenon has its own special term now: butterface, as in "(all) but her face". Whee, making fun of the way people look!

In case you couldn't tell, I don't actually find it to be fun, and "butterface" is fairly well abhorrent. However, I forgot to wear sunscreen yesterday and as such, I got a bit of a sunburn. I'm using this dehydration and pink skin tinge as an excuse for my poor choice of metaphor with this film. Had I ess-pee-effed it up yesterday, my words would be so beautiful right now that you'd be puking out of your eyes.

See? Dehydration.

Anyhoo, Silent Scream tells the tale of Scotty (Rebecca Balding), a college student desperate for housing. She finds a gloomy old manse on the beach with rooms available; sure the owner is never around and her teenage son Mason (Brad Reardon) is a bit weird, but there are other students living there as well and the place is cheap enough. Before long, however, Scotty's new-found dreamworld is rocked to its very core when a wackadoo living in the basement/crawlspaces/amongst the insulation starts giving tenants a bad case of The Deaths. Okay, "rocked to its very core" might be overstressing things, but there is a lurker and people do die and the hands and pointy implements of said lurker.

Silent Scream truly has it all, even if the film's title promises an unpossibility. Why, get outcher peepers and gander at these attractions:

The aforementioned creepy manse, all looming and foreboding and chock full 'o cobwebs!

The proliferation of oversized sunglasses!

The proliferation of bowl haircuts!

Yvonne DeCarlo and Barbara GD Steele!

The sweet sweet memories of The Boogens one gets when The Boogens star Rebecca Balding appears!

The orchestral score that...mmm...borrows heavily from Psycho!

So with all these checkmarks in the "fuck yeah!" column, why does Silent Scream end up...well, a butterface? It's because these lovely trappings fool you into thinking you're watching a great movie. "Oh, but there's Avery Schreiber playing a detective!" you say. "And Cameron Mitchell! Why...there are a lot of interesting shots here, and clearly director Denny Harris was trying to make an ambitious gothic slasher movie!"...and, you know. You'd be right. Unfortunately, all of those elements- the lurker, the foreboding house, the Psycho score- have been utilized in much better films (Bad Ronald, umm...Psycho). Silent Scream is fine. Serviceable. Enjoyable, even. It's trying to be something more than it ends up being in the end, which is a fairly standard "crazy family" tale. It all sort of meanders along and sometimes some stuff happens. Sometimes it's creepy. Then it's over and you give it a "Huh. Well, I watched that."

I'm not really holding anything against it, it just wasn't as great as I thought it was going to be. You know, when it turned around.

Silent Scream is available from Boulevard Movies. Click here to see that I'm not lying about it!


Thomas Duke said...

WHO YA CALLING A MORON? Oh wait...Silent Scream. I just got it...just right now. That's clever. I like this movie a lot actually, and Rebecca and Barbara are a big reason why. Also, the movie was shot in like 1978, and half of it was re-shot later, so it's like two different movies cobbled together. Having said that, I think they did a pretty good job, but that nerd sure is annoying (aren't they all). I did my own review for it, if anyone cares:

Hallospaceboy said...

"Then it's over and you give it a Huh. Well, I watched that."

That sentiment sums up too many films! Perfect! I may have to steal that from you.

michael said...

Hey, I just watched this two days ago. I maybe enjoyed a little more than you. If you watch the killer old people movie Homebodies next we're on the same movie schedule.

Stacie Ponder said...

I think I liked this more than I let on in the review. I certainly enjoyed it while it was happening, especially after Barbara Steele finally showed up. When it was over, though, it left me with a distinct "Eh, it was alright" feeling. But I was never bored or what have you, and I would watch it again.

W.B. Kelso said...

I think this is another one of those serviceable movies where the story of how it came to be is far more interesting than the finished product. If memory serves, this was like a two years after the fact rehash, right? Which is why some of the slasher elements don't quite jive because, technically, it predates "Halloween."

Anonymous said...

By the way...this is now available through Netflix watch instantly. In case you...uh...don't feel like watching it...again?