• Silent Scream (Scorpion Releasing) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: May 16th, 2017.
    Director: Denny Harris
    Cast: Rebecca Balding, Cameron Mitchell, Avery Schreiber, Barbara Steele, Steve Doubet, Brad Reardon, Yvonne De Carlo, Juli Andelman
    Year: 1980
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    The Movie:

    Silent Scream introduces us to a pretty college girl named Scotty Parker (Rebecca Balding) who arrives on campus only to find that there’s no housing available to her. She gets a few leads and after driving around town for a while eventually gets a room at the Engels' mansion, a massive old house on the coast that rents out a few spare rooms to college students. The place is run by a strange young man named Mason Engels (Brad Reardeon) who seems nice enough but warns Scotty about his odd mother (Yvonne De Carlo) who lives in one of the rooms upstairs.

    Scotty hits it off with her new roommates – a friendly gal named Doris (Julii Andelman), a rich guy with a Porsche named Peter Ransom (John Widelock) and hunky dude Jack Towne (Steve Doubet). Before you know it, Scotty and Jack are an item and things are going well. When the four of them return from dinner one night, however, an unseen killer butchers poor Peter on the beach in front of the home. The cops, led by Lt. Sandy McGiver (Cameron Mitchell), investigate but, initially at least, they come up empty. Shortly after Peter’s murder, Doris gets killed in the laundry room – at which point, Scotty realizes something sinister is afoot and that she may be next!

    Silent Scream (or, THE Silent Scream if you go by the title card) does take a little bit of time to get going but once it does, proves to be a pretty entertaining horror picture. It dabbles in slasher movie elements and owes more than a little bit of a debt to Psycho, but still manages to do enough on its own to keep things interesting and unique enough to hold our attention. The bulk of the film takes place in an around the old Engels home, which proves to be a great location to stage a film like this, with its somewhat gothic looking exterior, a creepy old attic upstairs adding lots of appreciable atmosphere to the proceedings.

    The story itself, well, the twist ending isn’t super hard to see coming but it is at least done really well. Without spoiling things, Barbara Steele does excellent work in her part in the film, director Denny Harris and cinematographers Michael D. Murphy and David Shore do a fine job of exploiting her very distinct features to nice effect. Yvonne De Carlo is also quite good in her supporting role, and if an aging Cameron Mitchell just sort of seems to be there for the paycheck, he’s delivered worse performances in worse films than this! Brad Reardon does a great job playing the quirky young man in charge of keeping up appearances, while Rebecca Balding (who has had a pretty strong TV career and who popped up in The Boogens!) makes for an attractive and likeable lead delivering fine work.


    Silent Scream comes to Blu-ray from Scorpion Releasing in a transfer taken from a ‘new 2016 HD scan of the original interpositive’ and it looks very good. Framed at 1.78.1 widescreen and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition, there’s loads of detail here to take in. Color reproduction looks spot on, nice and accurate, while black levels are plenty deep. Texture and shadow detail can be pretty impressive at times, while skin tones look nice and lifelike. There are no noticeable issues with compression artifacts or edge enhancement and the image appears free of any obvious noise reduction, showing the expected amount of film grain – as it should. No complaints here, really, the image is quite strong on this disc.

    Audio chores are handled well enough by an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track or a DTS-HD 5.1 option. The mono track, obviously, is more representative of the film’s original sound mix while the 5.1 tracks spreads things out a bit in terms of the score and the effects work. Both tracks sound fine and are free of any hiss or distortion. No alternate language or subtitle options are provided.

    The extras kick off with an audio commentary with writers/producers Ken and Jim Wheat and actress Rebecca Balding moderated by Lee Christian and Walter Olsen. This is a pretty interesting track quite worth checking out as it does a great job of detailing the film’s interesting history. The Wheat brothers were actually hired to come on board and basically retool a version of Silent Scream that had already been made! Only a dozen or so minutes from that version wound up being used and it’s quite interesting to hear the talk about how and why things worked out this way. We also hear about the cast that worked on the picture, with Balding chiming in quite frequently about her experiences on the set. There’s also talk about working with director Denny Harris, the locations, and quite a bit more. A second commentary feature actress Barbara Steele moderated by David Del Valle, who was her manager at one point in her career. They’ve definitely got an amiable sort of camaraderie that comes through in this track, which starts off as kind of a look back at Steele’s career before then becoming more focused on her experiences shooting Silent Scream. Lots of interesting stories here about her thoughts on the film, some of her co-stars and more.

    The Wheat brothers are also interviewed, with Balding again, for Scream Of Success: 30 Years Later, a forty-one minute look back at the making of the film. The Wheat brothers discuss what went into the picture in terms of the writing and production work, with Balding again sharing some memories from the set. All involved look back on this quite fondly. Silent Scream: The Original Script, a ten-minute featurette, sees the same participants offer up yet more details on the original version of the movie and what the biggest differences are between that original take on things and the movie we have on this disc. In The Wheat Brothers: A Look Back the pair talks about other projects that they’ve worked on over the years, including some interesting discussion of Pitch Black and some changes that were made from the original story to the version we wound up seeing. Balding also gets a quick three-minute solo interview in which she talks quickly about her work.

    The late Denny Harris' final audio interview is also included here. It was recorded over the course of a half hour telephone call and the sound quality is less than perfect but it’s still great to see it included here as he talks quite proudly about making this film, his thoughts on the story, the different cast members that he collaborated with and more.

    Outside of that we get a theatrical trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection. This release also comes packaged with some cool reversible cover art – always a nice touch.

    The Final Word:

    Silent Scream takes a little while to get going but once it hits its stride, it proves to be a pretty solid horror picture with some good performances and a few memorably twisted set pieces. The Blu-ray release from Scorpion Releasing is a good one, featuring a beautiful transfer, strong audio and a pretty comprehensive selection of extra features too. All in all, a strong release for a fun movie.

    Click on the images below for full sized Silent Scream Blu-ray screen caps!