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From a Whisper to a Scream 1987 - Blu-ray Review

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3 stars

Getting Vincent Price out of retirement was no easy task.  The boils and ghouls over at Scream Factory have assembled a collection of supplemental material to accompany their release of 1987’s From a Whisper to a Scream and it documents director Jeff Burr’s sincere bribery.  I start off here because, in all honesty, the supplemental material is more interesting than the horror film itself and more than makes up for the disappointment you may feel after concluding this 4-story horror anthology. 

Burr - who left film school to pursue and complete his Civil War drama entitles Divided We Fall – teamed up to write, produce, and direct From a Whisper to a Scream with his friends.  While there is some chatter on-line that suggests the film is a hidden masterpiece of the macabre, the truth is more that this anthology is very ambitious and twisted but has its audience limitations. 

Price, who had to be constantly convinced to continue with the project by seeing the other stories, appears as Julian White, a sort of librarian/record keeper of the history of a small town in Tennessee named Oldfield.  Susan Tyrell also appears as a reporter who is “chasing” a story concerning his recently executed daughter.  This is the “frame” that articulates the other four stories of fear and, rather cleverly, closes the book on Oldfield for good.    

Unsuspectingly, Julian invites her in to his office.  She is there to discuss the raising of his mass-murdering daughter.  What he tells her - four dark chapters in the Oldfield story - confirms her suspicions about the type of man he is but more on that a bit later.  The first story involves Clu Gulager (of Project Greenlight fame) as a disturbed man who only has eyes for his boss.  He’s spent his life caring for his handicapped sister and, on the evening of this tale, the past comes back to have a bite. 

The second tale involves Terry Kiser’s run-in with voodoo and a cursed case of immortality.  The third involves Martine Beswick doomed love affair with a glass-eating carnival performer.  The fourth (and most disturbing) involves the original founders of the Oldfield and their demented parentless upbringing courtesy of the Civil War.

Julian does not yet know that his own story is another dark entry.  While each segment is a bit muddied by weak, point-and-shoot direction, the sheer audacity of some of the tales makes it a good acquisition for all hounds of horror.  The moments of gross-out fright aren’t plenty but the intention and earnestness of the film makes it a win-win.  We shouldn’t forget that Burr would move on from this to score some positive marks with the unrated version of Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.  Good or bad, you can see the seeds planted here. 

While there is a bit of a Vincent Price resurgence (at least on blu-ray), the release of From a Whisper to a Scream doesn’t signify that we’re close to scraping the bottom of the barrel.  It’s an interesting horror anthology that is better taken in small doses than all at once.  And, yes, it dares to go to places modern horror skips over.  The nasty gore effects are still pretty effective and, simply from a what-the-fuck angle, the creep-out vibe is pretty significant.  I mean, quite literally, the concluding chapter just reinforces the simple fact that …

children

shouldn’t

play

with

dead

things.

From a Whisper to a Scream 1987 - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
99 mins
Director
: Jeff Burr
Cast:
Vincent Price, Clu Gulager, Terry Kiser
Genre
: Horror | Thriller
Tagline:
Fear......Times Four
Memorable Movie Quote: "One thing I've learned, my dear, is that one is never too old for nightmares."
Distributor:
Moviestore Entertainment
Official Site:
Release Date:
September 25, 1987
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 28, 2015
Synopsis: In a small Tennessee town, an historian relates four horror stories to a reporter.

From a Whisper to a Scream 1987 - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - April 28, 2015
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: LPCM 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Released from MGM and Scream Factory, From a Whisper to a Scream features an impressive 1080p 1.85:1 transfer that, due to some limitations in the source print, is an upgrade to what has been released previously but not nearly as pristine as some of Scream Factory’s other horror releases.  While black levels go deep, there is a wavering quality to some of the colors presented and, mixed in with the grain, are some spots of dirt and debris.  A loud and clear English 2.0 DTS-HD MA Stereo audio track supplies the mood satisfactorily.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There are two newly recorded commentaries: one from writer/director Jeff Burr and the other from writer/producer Darin Scott and writer C. Courtney Joyner.  While not as engaging as the two new documentaries, these lively commentaries are very interesting and offer more, scene specific, information not covered in the making-of documentary.

Special Features:

Now that you have survived the movie, here’s where things get really interesting.  The comprehensive feature-length documentary, Return to Oldfield, is one of the best overviews about making a film ever to grace the HD format.  It is inspiring stuff and totally captures the spirit that made Burr walk away from USC’s film school in the first place.  You get good interviews from Director Jeff Burr, Producer Darin Scott, Co-Screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner, Actor Clu Gulagar And More.  Following that is another feature-length documentary about Super 8 filmmaking in the 1970’s.

  • This is golden and inspiring stuff.  Forget the rest, it’s pretty basic. 
  • Return To Oldfield (120 min)
  • A Decade Under The Innocence (77 min)
  • Still Gallery (with optional commentary By Writer/Director Jeff Burr)
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • "The Offspring" TV Spots

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