Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 29th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1980
Director: Denny Harris
Writers: Wallace C. Bennett, Denny Harris, Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat
Cast: Rebecca Balding, Cameron Mitchell, Avery Schreiber, Barbara Steele, Steve Doubet, Brad Rearden, John Widelock, Yvonne De Carlo
DVD released: November 24th, 2009
Approximate running time: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: Scorpion Releasing
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.98
Synopsis: Unable to find housing after registering late a young woman lucks into a room at a boarding house located by the ocean. Shortly after her arrival one of the other boarders turns up dead. Was this death a random act of violence or is there something more sinister lurking in the shadows at the boarding house?
After a false start and an extensive retooling of the film, Silent Scream was finally released in 1980. By this time there were a slew of similar themed slasher horror films following the success of John Carpenter’s Halloween. While many will point too Halloween as a film that influenced Silent Scream, the influence is not as pronounced as it is in other similar themed slasher horror films which came out around the same time. If any film had an obvious influence on Silent Scream, that would be Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Not only does Silent Scream’s killer use a knife as their weapon of choice, the way in which the killer is first shown early on serves as misdirection in the same way in which it was used in Psycho. Also when compared to other slasher horror films which came out around the same time, Silent Scream’s amount of on screen carnage may leave some viewers wanting more. Despite its minimal bloodshed the film’s kill scenes and the moments leading up to them are all extremely effective in selling the mounting tension. Another area in which the film once again has a Psycho like feel to it is its score, especially the opening theme which has a very Bernard Herrmann like feel to it.
Pacing wise the film starts off slowly and it doesn’t really get going until the killer enters the fray. The cast features a few recognizable faces like Cameron Mitchell (Blood and Black Lace), Yvonne De Carlo (Brute Force) and Barbara Steele (Black Sunday). Even though Barbara Steele is given limited screen time and her character doesn’t speak any dialog, she still dominates every scene she is in. It is shocking that Silent Scream is not as widely known and regarded, since it holds up as one of the better slasher films to emerge from the early 1980’s.
Scorpion Releasing presents Silent Scream in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. This transfer has been flagged for progressive playback. This transfer is in great shape as colors look nicely saturated, flesh tones look accurate, detail look remarkably crisp throughout and black levels fare well with the only drawback being some of the darker scenes lacking the crispness which is present for the bulk of this transfer.
This release comes with two audio options a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English and a Dolby Digital stereo mix in English. The differences between the two mixes are minimal as they both sound clean and balanced throughout.
Extras for this release include a TV spot for the film (33 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a theatrical trailer for the film (1 minute 15 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), two on camera interviews, the first one with writers / producers Jim Wheat and Ken Wheat (12 minutes 13 seconds – 1.33:1 ‘full frame’ aspect ratio) and the second interview with actress Rebecca Balding (3 minutes 11 seconds – 1.33:1 ‘full frame’ aspect ratio). Both of these interviews are more of career overviews in which the participants discuss the various projects they have worked on. Also included with this release is an audio interview with director Denny Harris (30 minutes). This interview was compiled from five separate phone conversations and while the overall quality of the recordings are less than stellar, the content discussed in this audio interview more than makes up for any of the audio’s imperfections. Other extras include two featurette’s “Scream of Success” (40 minutes 36 seconds – 1.33:1 ‘full frame’ aspect ratio) and “Silent Scream: The Original Script” (10 minutes 8 seconds – 1.33:1 ‘full frame’ aspect ratio). Both these featurette’s include comments from Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat and Rebecca Balding. “Scream of Success” is by far the more interesting of the two featurettes, as topics covered include reshaping the film, integrating new footage with previously shot footage, technical aspects of the production, the cast, the script and director Denny Harris. The main extra included with this release is an audio commentary with Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat and Rebecca Balding. While there is some overlap of information that is covered in others extras on this release. The overall content covered in the audio commentary makes it the choice extra included with this release. Overall Silent Scream gets strong audio / video presentation from Scorpion Releasing, who has also assembled a wide array of informative extras.