• Scream For Help (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: September 18th, 2018.
    Director: Michael Winner
    Cast: Rachael Kelly, David Allen Brooks, Rocco Sisto, Lolita Lorre, Sandra Clark, Corey Parker
    Year: 1974
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    Scream For Help – Movie Review:

    Christie Cromwell (Rachael Kelly) lives at home with her mom Karen (Marie Masters) and new step-father Paul Fox (David Allen Brooks). They live a comfortable life just outside of New York City in the thriving metropolis of New Rochelle. They’ve got a nice house and Christie’s room is decorated in all the latest teen girl trappings of the day: a picture of David Lee Roth on the door, a John Stamos poster on the wall, a Van Halen hat on the bedpost and a stuffed Heathcliffe toy to the side of the bed. Yes, everything seems positively idyllic, until Christie starts to suspect that her new stepfather is actually out to kill her mother, all in hopes of inheriting the super profitable Chrysler dealership that her father left to her.

    It turns out that Christie is right. See, Paul is screwing Brenda Bohle (Lolita Lorre) on the side. She catches him in the act but when she tells Karen about it, she quickly learns that her mom isn’t going to take her word for it. Paul, on the other hand, starts getting weirder around Christie. Soon enough, her best friend Janey (Sandra Clark) is dead, Janey’s former flame Josh (Corey Parker) is now her man, and a crazy guy named Lacey (Rocco Sisto) is running around making trouble, leading Christie to believe that her own life is in just as much danger as her mother’s.

    Fast-paced and reasonably bonkers, Scream For Help is a good trashy time at the movies. It’s tough to take it all too seriously but Winner doesn’t seem to be asking us to. Instead he bridges the time between sex and violence set pieces with some wonderfully acerbic dialogue and performances and a fair amount of weirdness. The whole thing absolutely reeks of the mid-eighties as well, which gives it its own bizarre retro charm… it also dates it, visually at least. But if entertainment is what you’re after rather than any sort of serious take on the family dynamic or somber take on the horror picture, Scream For Help will scratch that itch.

    The performances go a long way towards making this work. Rachael Kelly, who doesn’t seem to have done much after this movie, is perfectly fine in the lead are soap opera star Marie Masters and Lolita Lorre (this appears to be her only credit). It is, however, David Allen Brooks and Rocco Sisto that really steal the show. Brooks is perfectly greasy in this one, turning on the charm when dealing with Karen but not at all above letting Christie see his true nature when it suits his purpose. Brooks, who had a part in Michael Mann’s Manhunter, does this two-faced thing really well here, and he’s a lot of fun to watch. Sisto, on the other hand, plays his part as ‘straight psycho.’ He chews through the scenery with glee, abusing pretty much everyone in his path and looking for all the world like he’s having a blast doing it. He’s got loads of enthusiasm here and he pretty much steals every scene that he’s in.

    The movie mixes up fairly standard thriller elements with slasher movie tropes and, in its final act, some pretty intense home invasion insanity. At the same time, the elements of high school/teenaged melodrama run pretty deep here, making for a sometimes spectacularly tone-deaf picture made even more bizarre by a completely inappropriate score from Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones! Cinematography from Robert Paynter, the man who shot An American Werewolf In London and who previously worked with Winner on Chato’s Land and The Mechanic, is pretty solid. Production values are pretty decent all the way around, actually.

    Scream For Help – Blu-ray Review:

    Scream For Help arrives on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory in a 1.85.1 widescreen transfer in AVC encoded 1080p high definition taken from a ‘new 2K Scan from the original film elements.’ Overall, the image here is fine. It shows nice detail, particularly in closeup shots, and pretty strong texture as well. There is some minor print damage here and there but it’s nothing more than the occasional white speck, nothing serious or distracting. There’s a fair amount of depth and a nice lack of obvious digital manipulation to note, no edge enhancement or noise reduction worth complaining about at all. There weren’t any compression artifacts noticed during playback – all in all, this is as nice effort.

    The DTS-HD 2.0 track, in English, also sounds fine. Dialogue is clean, clear and easy to follow and that wildly inappropriate score has a surprisingly amount of power behind it. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion, everything sounds as it should. Optional English subtitles are provided.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary featuring Justin Karswell (of Hysteria Lives!, The Slasher Movie Book) and Amanda Reyes (Are You In The House Alone? A TV Movie Compendium) that is quite well done. These two have a good chemistry together and are able to dissect the movie pretty effectively. They talk about what works and what doesn’t and go into a fair bit of detail about the cast and about Michael Winner’s direction. There’s talk of the score, the locations, similarities to other horror projects of the day and the movie’s quirky charm. This is definitely worth a listen.

    After that, check out Stepfather Of The Year – An Interview With Actor David Allen Brooks that runs just a hair shy of sixteen-minutes. He talks about working with Michael Winner, his thoughts on the part that he played in the film and what it was like on set. It’s a decent piece, Brooks is a bit of a character. After that, we get Cruel Intentions – An Interview With Writer Tom Holland that runs just over thirteen-minutes. Holland talks about when he wrote the film back in the seventies, his thoughts on the final product (he’s not thrilled), and his thoughts on why it didn’t turn out as well as he thought that it should. Holland doesn’t really hold back here, he’s pretty blunt about a lot of this but that makes it interesting and at times rather humorous.

    A theatrical trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection round out the supplements.

    Scream For Help – The Final Word:

    Scream For Help is an oddly sleazy mix of After School Special style melodrama and home invasion horror histrionics done in Winner’s typically well-paced style. This one is very much a product of its time but the eighties time capsule aspect of it is part of its appeal. Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray isn’t super stacked with extras but what’s here is quite good and the presentation is nice. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Scream For Help Blu-ray scree caps!