I've got two movies for you this week, and we're going way back to 1980 for these screen gems. The first is SILENT SCREAM, which is nearly impossible to find on DVD or video anymore. The second is HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE, which is being rereleased with extras, supposedly soon. The two have little in common except that they both gave me nightmares when I was a kid.
SILENT SCREAM is set in a seaside mansion, doing double duty as a college boarding house. Scotty (Rebecca Balding of THE BOOGENS) has procrastinated her way into off-campus housing. She has no other option than to shack up with the creepiest screen family since THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. That's not saying the movie is particularly gory, it's not. In fact, it owes more to Psycho than any slasher flick. What is so frightening is the extreme lack of privacy, the dark claustrophobia, and those thick thick walls. Jesus! Plus, it's got Barbara Steele (Black Sunday) and Yvonne DeCarlo (Do I need to say where she's from?).
SILENT SCREAM really takes me back. 1980 was the 6th grade, I think. The only person that loved horror movies as much as me was Kim Hall. We must have conned my father into getting us into 50 horror movies before high school. Those were the days. I think I'm going to wrap a Pepsi in tinfoil just thinkin' about it.
We saw the movie at the Parkland Theater, which has since burnt down (a Riteaid rose from the ashes). At the time, the Parkland was on its last legs. The plumbing was shot in the bathrooms, seats that people puked on were either removed leaving gaping holes in the rows, or simply covered in garbage bags. The place smelled like piss, but luckily the popcorn was good...oh wait, no, it was totally disgusting, too. But it cost a dollar. You tend to put up with a lot of shit for a dollar movie. The crowd was often scarier than the flick, anyway, and it wasn't unheard of to find the parking lot full of Harley Davidsons--this was back when a parking lot full of hogs could mean only one thing: Hell's Angels.
But none of that mattered on SILENT SCREAM night. The crowd was tense, quiet. The previews had built the film up to be the most terrifying thing ever, and it was, for an eleven-year old. Those were different times; people weren't desensitized to screen violence. So it didn't take much to scare us. SILENT SCREAM sent this particular crowd over the edge.
HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE is that horror movie where the brides get killed. I love the bit in the trailer that goes: every bride is frightened the night before her wedding. God knows Caroline was. Did I say trailer?
This movie is famous for introducing us to Tom Hanks. His opening death scene was what reminded me to toss this movie into the double feature. It's one of those scenes that if you think about long enough will cause you to alter your behavior, namely in theater seating. You'll see.
So that's it. Feel free to debate or debase.