Silent Scream (1980)
What’s It About: A really screwed up family rents out the spare rooms in their house to students who just want to screw, and then killing ensues.
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film
- Yvonne DeCarlo is in this. I’ll hold off on The Munsters jokes as long as I can.
- Somewhere in the production of this movie, “The” was added to the film’s title, but not in its marketing. A Schoolhouse Rock about the importance of definite articles was lost here.
- Looks like we’re seeing the ending during the beginning in slow motion first. Super-duper.
- Avery Schreiber is in this too? In a serious role? I always associated him with Doritos commercials and his role in “Scavenger Hunt.”
- Hey! Scotty is the chick that seduced Billy Crystal and kidnapped his baby in “Soap.”
- The montage of Scotty looking for off-campus housing was clearly the inspiration for the same kind of scene when the Tri-Lambs did it in “Revenge of the Nerds.”
- Not only does Mason look like he’s gonna be trouble, he also looks like the bastard son of Gilfoyle from “Silicon Valley.”
- When a potential landlord tells you that this used to be his sister’s room, fucking run!
- When someone is staring at you through a heating vent, make sure you try and get a few beans kicked back off your rent.
- Mason has a Lily Tomlin mullet and I don’t like him.
- It’s really weird seeing Yvonne DeCarlo in color.
- Holy shit, is this tracking shot going to show us every nook of the interior of the Engles’ house?
- The actor who played Peter really needed to pop that zit on his nose prior to filming.
- Doris could have been a little more receptive to Peter’s advances. It’s not like there was another guy in the house interested in her.
- When Doris calls Peter an “asshole,” she is clearly ADR’d. It looks like she originally said, “jizz-bag.”
- Peter passes out drunk on the beach, just like that poor blue-balled bastard from the beginning of “Jaws.”
- Someone must have heard my “Jaws” reference, because Peter’s bloodied hand is sticking out of the sand just like Chrissie Watkins’ was.
- Cameron Mitchell, who was the commander in “Space Mutiny” plays Avery Schreiber’s partner. That’s for all you MST3K fans out there.
- Any tow-truck driver who yells “va-va-voom!” when he shows up for a job does not deserve your business.
- When stressed, Mason fondles his “father’s” army uniform. Not good. (the quotes will be explained later.)
- Mason’s taste in porn leaves something to be desired.
- The set used for the police station was definitely a school at some point.
- Jack looks like Jeff Bridges had a kid with one of the douche bags from Cobra Kai. I could make a sweep-the-leg joke here but I wouldn’t want you to think less of me.
- The soundtrack has no shame at all when trying to sound like Bernard Hermann whenever there is a stabbing.
- Doris not only listens in on Scotty and Jack having sex, but she seems as if she wants to critique their moans.
- This movie has the sheer balls to have a killer that is not deformed or disfigured in any way.
- I thought that ripped jeans weren’t cool until hair-metal was invented four years later.
- Mason’s sister is actually his mother, his father is his grandfather, and his mother is his grandmother. Faye Dunaway summed it up better in “Chinatown.”
- There sure are a lot of gunshots happening here without any response by the police.
- The killer-sister hidden away in the closet never speaks. Is that the Silent Scream?
- It turns out that Victoria was originally portrayed by Susan Backlinie, but was then replaced with Barbara Steele. Susan was Chrissie Watkins, the skinny-dipper who got chewed up in the beginning of Jaws – so the Jaws jokes from before were pretty fucking appropriate weren’t they?
Is It Actually Scary: There are some moments that give a pretty good scare. The whole beach scene with Peter and Doris builds up to a great payoff.
Scariest Moment: Any moment involving Mason: the poor-man’s Kelly Leek.
Most Disturbing Moment: Seeing Mason in his pajamas.
Dumbest Moment: The useless cutaway to Mason watching a rape on his TV. He didn’t seem to have a VCR, Betamax, or a 8mm camera – so how the fuck did he tape it? Also, the girl getting raped in the video is Susan Backlinie. Just felt like I had to reinforce my Jaws references again is all, even though I grow tired of referencing her at this point.
How Much Gore: Just some blood spatter. However, the gunshot would on Lily (Munsters joke!) is zoomed in on showing a little meat.
Best Line: The terribly dubbed “you’re an asshole” I think should have the accolade here.
Best Scene: The few minutes we’re lucky enough to see Scotty in a bikini. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the girl’s name is Scotty wise-ass.
Worst Scene: The slow-mo ending during the opening credits could have been avoided completely and placed where it should have been. It really took away from the film’s resolution.
Any Nudity: A little bit when Scotty and Jack finally consummate their “we rent in the same house” relationship.
Overall: A forgotten movie that was plagued with re-shoots and re-writes; Silent Scream is definitely a diamond in the rough at the height of the eighties-slasher boom even though it was filmed in the late seventies. Looking into the film’s history is almost as confusing as why DC can’t make a super-hero movie worth a fuck – but the end result is a good slasher well worth some respect..
Score: 7 silently screaming creepy chicks in the attic (out of 10)
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