Director – Denny Harris
Cast – Rebecca Balding, Cameron Mitchell, Avery Schreiber, Barbara Steele, Steve Doubet, Brad Rearden, John Widelock
Release Year – 1980
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I admit that I overlooked and then passed over this under-appreciated horror classic when I was in my 1980 horror binge a few years back, but I can finally say that I have given this film the time of day, which it definitely deserves. Fans of the slasher genre should appreciate this piece, which not only follows the famed and lovable template but gives us some well-executed horror to make for an enjoyable experience.
When young college student Scotty Parker(Rebecca Balding; The Boogens), desperate for a room to rent with little time to spare, finds a boarding home that meets her budget she is elated and quickly makes herself at home amongst her fellow co-eds staying in the old home. However, soon after moving in the young students begin dying in gruesome fashion, leading Scotty to a long-held secret residing within the home.
Well the title is cool, so the movie should be good right? In the case of The Silent Scream that is the case. Our writers, two of which also wrote The Fly II and Pitch Black, give us the usual slasher storyline involving a group of unsuspecting teens being hacked up by a mysterious killer, and I found no beef with the cliched story due to how well written it was. To add to this we were given some ver cool and unique elements thrown in, mostly regarding the antagonist characters who keep us guessing as to who the real killer is until the twist at the beginning of the third act. The story really is a simple one overall, but it does nothing to fault itself and gives us viewers everything we ask to see in a slasher flick.
The Silent Scream is the only film under director Denny Harris’ resume, and thankfully he did a swell job with this one, although that makes things bittersweet since this guy obviously had the talent to hang around the genre for a while. Originally shot in 1977 and suffering numerous reshoots due to how piss poor the film was during its first “final” cut, Harris made the most of this piece by giving us the fun execution we enjoy watching as our young protagonists have their fun, and things only get sweeter when they come face to face with their demise in pretty awesome fashion. His atmosphere was high in creepiness, which was aided by a truly haunting but sometimes repetitive soundtrack. As mentioned earlier, the storyline is pretty simple, as are the kills, but Harris’ direction of the kill sequences was top-notch and he delivered solid horror despite the simple nature of the kills – a true testament to good direction from a guy who obviously never got the career status that he was good for.
Overall, The Silent Scream is a sweet 1980 slasher flick that thanks to great execution and faultless writing makes for a fun experience that comes with some great and long-lasting horror. Recommended for slasher fans.