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From A Whisper To A Scream (1987)

DVD Cover (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Director:
Jeff Burr Jeff Burr
Starring:
Vincent Price Vincent Price
Clu Gulager Clu Gulager
Terry Kiser Terry Kiser
Harry Caesar Harry Caesar
Rosalind Cash Rosalind Cash

5.9 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Horror, Horror Anthology
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Review by Chad
Added: January 22, 2006
Vincent Price is the host for tonight's collection of four tales of terror, as he plays museum curator Julian White and tells stories regarding this town's past to news reporter Bess Chandler (Susan Tyrrell). It all begins when Bess witnesses the execution of Katherine White (Martine Breswick) and goes to visit Katherine's uncle afterwards. You see, Bess isn't content with the "she went crazy" story that the media slapped on Katherine's case, so it makes sense that she would go to Julian, the man that raised her for much of her life. Julian agrees that there was more to the story than what appeared in the papers, and he claims that this small town of Oldfield, Tennessee is plagued by something that causes people to want to murder. Bess doesn't believe these claims, so Julian sits her down and runs through a few stories ranging from the inception of the town to just a few months ago.

The first tale revolves around an old man who is cursed with a sick sister who requires constant care. This sister of his caused the old man to never be able to get out and meet a woman to marry due to her ailments, and if you think he doesn't despise her for that, well... you haven't been watching too many horror films. The man eventually meets a pretty young lady at his job, but the problem here is that the young lady wants nothing to do with an old man. He persists at his attempts to sway her, and finally convinces her to go out on a dinner date with him. When the date is over, he tries to put the moves on her, but of course, this lady isn't too keen on having sex with a man old enough to be her grandfather and pushes him away. This enrages him, and in the ensuing struggle, he breaks her neck. He feels sympathy for the young lady, but in his mind, the two still have a relationship going on... and the next day, he pays her a visit at the funeral home in order to, how should I say, consummate the relationship. What follows is a tale of revenge from beyond the grave that would make EC Comics proud.

The opening chapter of this movie is, in my eyes, the best one to be found in the quartet. With the inclusion of Vincent Price in the cast, I wasn't expecting much in the way of gore and extreme horror; after all, Price was known for being against gratuitous onscreen violence. Much like the rest of the film, this tale shocked me in that regard; we witness an act of necrophilia, hintings towards an incestuous relationship, and gallons of gore. Of course, none of that would matter without a good storyline, and although a few things aren't explained (the old man's violent dreams), I found this one to be an enjoyable opening to the movie. Plus, what sound-minded horror fan could witness this poor old guy's payback from beyond the grave and not have a smile plastered across their face? Sure, it was a bit corny, but this is the scene that everyone remembers from this film, and for good reason. Corny, yes, but it's also very memorable thanks to the "interesting" twist that caps it off.

The next story focuses on a criminal who meets his match in a gun-battle with some rival mobsters. He's mortally wounded and just moments from death, but he manages to escape into the nearby swamps on the outskirts of Oldfield. He comes to a few days later and finds that he is in the care of an old black man, and although he should be dead, he seems to be getting better as the days pass. After doing a bit of digging around in the man's cabin, he finds out that this old man has found the secret to eternal life through voodoo rituals... and now, this criminal will stop at nothing to get these secrets out of the old man. Of course, he's never heard the age-old expression of "Don't fuck with voodoo"...

Short, sweet, and to the point are the best ways to describe this entry. In that brief description, I basically told you readers everything that happens in this segment with the obvious exception of the ending. There's a few key pieces of storyline that I left out so as not to spoil things, but really, this is a short segment and seems to have been more of a padding segment than anything. It's interesting and has some nice visuals towards the end, but it's far from memorable and it'll likely be all but forgotten soon after the credits roll.

Moving onwards to the next story, we find that the carnival is in town, complete with the required freak-show of these olden days. One of the acts, a man who eats glass and razorblades as though they were candy, manages to catch the eye of a young lass in the audience who decides to meet him after his show. The two seem destined to have a long relationship, until the glass-eater tells her that he can't have anything to do with her anymore. Obviously upset, she begs for answers and an explanation but receives nothing more than a simple "stay away from me." Determined to get with this man that she has fallen in love with, the lady will stop at nothing to win his heart... but she soon finds out that not everyone in the circus is there willingly, and dire consequences comes to those who try to interrupt the show.

Here we have a bizarre little tale that incorporates a few elements of the previous tale into its storyline. While I can't describe it too much without spoiling the setup to the ending (which would give away the entire thing), I did find this to be a nice little entry. It is a bit shocking, I must admit; normally in these types of movies, the people who have been wronged get their revenge on their tormentors in various gruesome ways. Here, we find... well, I won't reveal it, but it was a far cry from the typical setup of these movies. It was refreshing in that we were shocked when the end of the story rolls around, but in the end, I found this one to be a bit of a letdown. There's some nice gore effects, but the storyline just lacks a certain... something.

In the final story, a group of Union soldiers during the Civil War find out just a little too late that the war is over. You see, they come across a group of Confederate soldiers who immediately raise the white flags in a sign of peace. The Union guys, who aren't exactly the most peace-loving guys in the state, raise their guns and shoot the soldiers dead. Upon checking out the bodies of these now-deceased soldiers, they find a newspaper proclaiming that the war is over. They decide to head over to the neighboring town of Oldfield for a small celebration with the ladies there, but they soon find that the adults have all been murdered in the war... and the children that remain aren't too happy with the murderous ways of adults.

Wrapping up the movie is a story that damned near steals the title of "best segment" away from the opening tale. It doesn't quite manage to do that thanks to some parts of it moving entirely too slow for my liking and some scenes which merely rehash details that have already been revealed, but there's enough to enjoy here that those small problems can be overlooked. While I'm normally not a fan of child actors in horror films, the kids here did an adequate job in their roles. They were nothing special, mind you, and they certainly didn't change my stance on the kiddies in horror, but they didn't do anything bad enough to warrant any complaints. There were two scenes that gorehounds will be especially pleased with here... you may want to put the women to bed when the kids decide to play their own version of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, and the final scene is just downright gruesome and bizarre.

Overall, we have a collection of four stories that should feature a little something for everyone interested in the horror genre, and having them hosted by the legendary Vincent Price was a nice touch. Price would go on to appear in three more movies before his unfortunate death, and even when he was just a few years away from succumbing to cancer, he showed why he is such a legend in the world of cinema with an outstanding performance in this film. As for the stories themselves, I found two entries to be great and two that were average - nothing bad, but nothing to brag about either. Still, this title is a worthy entry into the anthology horror subgenre, and fans of such should definitely give it a viewing. 7/10.
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