Silent Scream (1979)

Silent Scream

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AKA: The Silent Scream

Silent Scream is about a small group of collage students who rent rooms at a newly “we are now taking applications” Victoria boarding house at the beginning of the semester. Naturally, it doesn’t take long for people to start showing up in elegant, bloody piles.

Silent Scream is a horror film pretty tame in it’s horror presentation. It has a low body count and almost nothing in the way of gore or special effects.

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This is really about as close to gore as you’re gonna get

It’s also really light in the ‘horror’ category too. You won’t find any jump scares here or much in the way of a sense of dread. And other than a brief shot of side-boob, the nudity junkies get nothing either.

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Oh, the frustration…

What it does have is atmosphere. When the movie’s heroine, Scotty, can’t get lodging on campus she conveniently picks one of the most foreboding places she can find to rent a room. Choosing the right dark, creepy and isolated house for your location can increase the off-putting factor of any film. Add in creepy landlords and cramped spaces and you’ve got yourself something to work with.

The film is a bit of a slow burn, but thankfully the characters make up for that a tad. The film may be filled with stereotypes that seem to be put on this planet for the sole purpose to be knocked off before the heroine, but at least they have some interesting interactions. And Scotty, played by Rebecca Balding, makes a fine heroine. She’s resourceful and spunky, someone you have no trouble rooting for.

…Though, to be fair, Scotty has her not so bright moments too.

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Oh, look….A secret, cobweb riddled staircase. By all means, lets investigate.

Probably the highlight of the movie, though, is Barbara Steele. She is fabulous and crazy and does it without uttering a single word. Once she shows up the movie picks up it’s pace and starts barreling towards its inevitable conclusion. Part of that conclusion I guarantee you’ll see coming a mile away. The other part…perhaps not. I know I didn’t see it coming, but then at that point I wasn’t expecting it either. It’s a bit of a “I wonder who’s idea it was to put that in the script?” moments.

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Silent Scream is a movie I’d heard nothing about. So color me surprised when I found out that it actually did pretty well at the box office. It started filming in 1977, a year before Halloween was to make its debut, but its incoherent story forced everything to be scrapped except for a few minutes of footage. A new script was written and just about everything else was re-shot on a shoestring budget. And the films monetary woes are pretty obvious. But you get the feeling that while those who worked on it were probably far to inexperienced, they were also a passionate bunch who were just trying to make a good movie.

In the end, I liked it well enough, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it to too many people. It’s got some decent acting and nice visual touches that are reminiscent of Hitchcock (because if you’re going to mimic someone, it might as well be a master), but unless you’re really into slower-paced, low-budget slashers there really isn’t anything here most veterans haven’t seen before.

*SIDE NOTE*: For reasons not terribly clear, the “The” is absent on promotional materials, yet present in the films title.

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Some speculate that the change was made to differentiate the film from a similarly titled anti-abortion film. But Silent Scream actually predates that film by four years. So who knows. *shrugs*

Silent Scream is available on a variety of services.

It is also available on DVD and Bluray.

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Michi

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