BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

Silent Scream (1979) - Blu-ray Review

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Silent Scream - Blu-ray Review

4 beersWhen the knife used in the film’s first murder is described by the detectives in charge as “real big and real sharp”, you know you’re in for one sweet ride.  Silent Scream is exactly that.  Directed by Denny Harris and set alongside the Pacific Ocean, this slasher functions as a B-movie solely in budget restraints alone.  It is both measured and intelligent, featuring great sequences that create suspense and surprise, and all of this works together to scare the shit right out of you.

There’s a big, bad secret in the hilltop beachside house that Mrs. Engles (Yvonne De Carlo who famously played Lily Munster in The Munsters) and her son, Mason (Brad Reardon), are protecting.  But college students Doris (Juli Andleman), Peter (John Widelock), Jack (Steve Doubet), and Scotty Parker (Rebecca Balding of The Boogens fame) don’t suspect a thing.  One by one, the killer creeping through the shadows of the house (by way of air duct staircases) takes them out in demented ways, always punishing them for something harmless they’ve done.

With Lieutenant McGiver (Cameron Mitchell) and Sergeant Manny Ruggin (Avery Schreiber) on the case, suspicion is quickly cast upon the creepy Engles clan, whose tucked away secret involves horror icon Barbara Steele as the very damaged Victoria Engels, a botched lobotomy survivor.  She lives in the attic and is constantly guarded by her mother, but it turns out that big, bad Mama is hiding some surprises of her own and poor, poor Mason is about to snap as a result. 

Originally released by American Cinema Rising (an independent motion picture distribution company with a brief heyday during the drive-in craze), Silent Scream was seemingly lost in the shuffle as one of the early slasher copycats after enjoying two separate (and successful) screenings.  The film has an interesting production history as it was originally shot in 1977, salvaged by screenwriters Jim and Ken Wheat – who took 15 minutes of footage and expanded upon it to create the retooled story – into the family narrative of murderous deception, and re-introduced into the world.

Steele who knows this material steals the show as Psycho No. 1 and – with expressive eyes and a blank expression – goes about her psychotic business of ceremonial housecleaning like few others.   She’s quite captivating in the role and, when you get a look at her bedroom (especially the mirror), her story will haunt you.

The blood is gooey and the death toll is high, but the horror film is a zippy 88-minutes and that makes all the difference in this slasher.  There are effective surprises and a “final girl” finale involving two women that is both edgy and confident.  The film is full of strong performances, but it doesn’t dare become too psychotic – which is probably why it faded from view so quickly – and maintains a confident strut throughout.  Or maybe it was Tony Cole’s saxophone solos every single time two bodies get close to one another; cheese pleases, you know. 

Regardless, there’s no justifiable reason as to why this one remained silent in its screaming for so long.  Thankfully, Silent Scream is being reintroduced into the world on 1080p thanks to Scorpion Releasing and Code Red with a new transfer, a new stereo remix, new audio commentaries, and new supplemental items.  It is a release that Horror Hounds and Gore-Gore Girls will not want to miss out on.

Silent Scream - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
87 mins
Director
: Denny Harris
Writer:
Ken Wheat, Jim Wheat
Cast:
Rebecca Balding, Cameron Mitchell, Avery Schreiber
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
Terror so sudden there is no time to scream.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Is omeone there?"
Theatrical Distributor:
American Cinema Releasing
Official Site:
Release Date:
November 23, 1979
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 16, 2017
Synopsis: Horror icon Barbara Steele stars in this 1980 horror classic that was number one at the box office in 1980! Young co-ed Scotty is unable to find housing on the campus. She finds a vacancy at the Engels' mansion, now a boarding house for college students. Mrs. Engel and her son seem nice enough, but it becomes clear to Scotty that something is not right at her new residence. When her fellow borders begin dying, two detectives must solve the mystery of the Engels' boarding house before the body count rises!

Silent Scream - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Ronin
Available on Blu-ray
- May 16, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Region A

Code Red and Scorpion Releasing presents the newly minted transfer of Silent Scream with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix.  The 1080p transfer is minted from a new 2016 HD master from the original camera negative.  Details are fine and shockingly crisp.  Colors pop and shadows are bold.  Nicely saturated, there are no dents in its shiny armor.  Daytime colors are strong throughout and are particularly memorable with their inclusion of details and strong edges.  Black levels are clearly defined, too.  Important considering the film largely takes place during the evening hours inside a house.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  •  To further clarify the interesting production history of Silent Scream, writers Ken and Jim Wheat and star Rebecca Balding provide the film’s commentary and sort out the details of the film’s creation and recreation.

Special Features:

Scorpion Releasing has done fans of this one a solid.  The supplemental items are interesting and fill in the gaps about the production history.  It gets started with a phone interview by the director, who died shortly after the interview was conducted.  Following that is a fairly detailed sit-down discussion with writers Ken and Jim Wheat and star Rebecca Balding.  It should also be noted that the first 2,000 copies will include a new slipsleeve featuring custom artwork by artist Nathan Thomas Milliner.

  • Barbara Steele Interview
  • Interview with Rebecca Balding and Ken and Jim Wheat
  • Audio interview with director Denny Harris
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Silent Scream - Blu-ray Review

 

 

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