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 is...fun!
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.
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!
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!