• Too Scared To Scream (Scorpion Releasing) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: July 22nd, 2019.
    Director: Tony Lo Bianco
    Cast: Mike Conners, Ann Archer, Ian McShane, Leon Issac Kennedy, John Heard, Maureen O'Sullivan
    Year: 1984
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    Too Scared To Scream – Movie Review:

    The only feature film directed by Tony Lo Bianco (though he did direct a few TV episodes in the seventies), 1984’s Too Scared To Scream opens with a terrible theme song called ‘I’ll Be There’ playing over footage of Ian McShane applying theatrical makeup in front of a mirror. This goes on a while, and it’s a little cringey to be honest.

    From there, we meet a rich asshole named Barry (Beeson Carroll) who is trying to coerce a high-class call girl named Cynthia (Victoria Bass) to let him have a little fun. She’s got a headache, she tells him, and heads to her apartment at The Royal Arms. Barry instructs his weirdo limo driver to keep an eye on the place to see if she splits to see another client. She doesn’t. Instead, after casually flirting with the night doorman, Vincent (that’d be McShane), she heads to her pad, makes a joke to her bird about ‘molesting a myna,’ gets completely naked and then gets stabbed to death.

    NYPD Lt. Alex Dinardo (Mike Connoers) is the man called in to investigate, with some help from his pal and fellow cop Frank (Leon Isaac Kennedy). They first inform a drunken ex-cop named Jack (Murray Hamilton – who played ‘Big Daddy’ on The Golden Girls!) that his favorite hooker is dead – this makes him sad. Then they start digging around and find out that Barry had been with the victim the night before. They pay a visit to his place and find him bound, gagged and naked with cigarette burns all over his ass! He tells them his kinky limo driver did it, and they head to Times Square to find him, this time with another cop, and Alex’s girlfriend, named Kate Bridges (Anne Archer) in tow. After a pretty neat chase past a bunch of strip clubs and porno theaters they finally get the perp – but once he’s locked up, the murders continue! At this point, all signs start to point to Vincent. He’s a weirdo who spouts Shakespeare now and again and who lives alone with his wheelchair-bound mother (Maureen O'Sullivan) in a big old house.

    As the killer strikes again in the very same building the cops find themselves in a race against time, sending Kate undercover into the Royal Arms – but before it’s all over a fat guy’s three-way with two hookers will get ruined, Kate will do some disco dancing, a sassy black woman named Mamie (Yvonne Talton Kersey) will call the day doorman, Edward (Chet Doherty), a “lowlife motherfucker” for no discernable reason and Leon Isaac Kennedy will get whacked in the back of the head with a phone cradle!

    Too Scared To Scream doesn’t actually feature anyone who is too scared to scream. When people get scared in this movie, they scream. The movie also doesn’t quite know if it wants to fully embrace sleazy slasher trappings or not. It’s got a couple of okay murder set pieces and two scenes of pretty gratuitous nudity, but then it has weird lounge music numbers that open and close the film and it features a character running around quoting Shakespeare. It’s a movie that goes in quite a few different directions at once, sometimes simultaneously, and as such, it’s tonally uneven.

    That said, it’s also pretty damned entertaining. There’s definitely enough weird stuff going on here to hold your attention even during the occasional slower stretch. The fact that it’s all shot in and around early eighties Manhattan also helps, as we get that great stretch set in Times Square as well as some nice footage of what looks to be Central Park.

    As to the cast? A youngish Ian McShane is pretty good here. This role is pretty different from Al Swearengen, a character that McShane made immortal for some of us in Deadwood. Victor is a prim and proper man, concerned less with an active social life than with culture (at one point he tells another character his friends are his books). He plays the part pretty well. Mike Connors, probably best known for playing the lead in six years of Mannix on TV, is typecast as the tough, surly cop but he’s fun to watch here. Leon Isaac Kennedy isn’t given as much to do as some of the others but he’s fine in his supporting role. Anne Archer, who was Oscar nominated for her role in Fatal Attraction, does a decent enough job in her underwritten part and it’s nothing short of weird seeing Maureen O'Sullivan, of The Thin Man and quite a few Tarzan pictures from the thirties and forties, pop up as Victor’s mother. Also, John Heard has a completely unexpected little scene stealing cameo here as a smart mouthed morgue technician named Steve!

    Too Scared To Scream – Blu-ray Review:

    Too Scared To Scream (which doesn’t appear to have had a DVD release, though it was issued on VHS by Vestron Video) starts with a disclaimer noting that the transfer was created using best elements available in MGM’s vaults, and while it isn’t stated in this disclaimer the transfer looks like it was taken from a print. The AVC encoded 1080p high definition picture is framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and it shows some print damage throughout – nothing super crazy, mind you, but you’ll notice scratches here and there and the occasional blemish. Colors are a little uneven in spots, the elements may have faded a bit. Detail can look quite strong in some scenes and a bit softer in others. Still, this is definitely a film-like presentation – there aren’t any problems with noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression issues. Watching this on Blu-ray is akin to watching the film projected from a well-used print – and while obviously a restoration from the negative would have been ideal, if these are the only elements left then it’s far better to have the movie preserved like this than not at all.

    The only audio option provided is an English language DTS-HD Mono track. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. For the most part, the audio is just fine. There are a couple of spots where there’s a tiny bit of distortion in the mix but if you’re not listening for it you’re probably not going to notice it. Otherwise, levels are properly balanced, dialogue is pretty clear and those goofy songs used during the opening and closing credits sound nice and crisp.

    The first extra you’ll find on the disc is a new interview with director Tony Lo Bianco that runs just under twelve-minutes in length. In this piece, he speaks about he was working as a producer at Universal trying to develop a television series when a script called The Doorman came to him. He liked the murders in it and after a bit of back and forth and some rewriting, he wound up directing the picture. He then talks about the importance of getting Mike Connors on board, casting Ian McShane (who he had worked with on Jesus Of Nazareth), working with a low budget, the New York City locations, how much he appreciated what all of the cast were able to bring to the picture, and how filmmaking and directing really is a collaboration. He comes across as quite grateful here and seems to really enjoy looking back on the making of the film.

    The disc also includes a new interview with Leon Isaac Kennedy that runs seven-minutes. Here, Kennedy talks about how this was a rare project that he landed through an agent calling him directly for that reason. He talks about how happy he was to work in New York alongside some big names, how he was intrigued by the script, how much he enjoyed working with Tony Lo Bianco and how this shoot was ‘almost a vacation for me’ because he wasn’t doing double duty as a writer or producer at the same time. He talks about being on set with some of the cast members like Anne Archer and Mike Connors, he shares his thoughts on working with McShane and how, as a student of Hollywood, he was excited to be in a film with Maureen O'Sullivan.

    There’s no trailer here for the film itself but there are bonus trailers for a few other titles we can assume are coming soon from Scorpion – Body And Soul, Firewalker, Johnny Cool and a few others. Menus and chapter selection are also provided.

    Too Scared To Scream – The Final Word:

    Too Scared To Scream is definitely all over the place but it’s a pretty fun watch, particularly if you have a soft spot for slasher movies that don’t quite know that they’re slasher movies. Sleazier than you might expect and cast with an interesting and entertaining array of stars, it might not be particularly scary but it definitely entertains. Scorpion Releasing’s Blu-ray does a decent job with iffy elements and includes two interesting interviews in its supplemental package.

    Click on the images below for full sized Too Scared To Scream Blu-ray screen caps!