Thursday, March 18, 2010

Scream (1981, Byron Quisenberry)

I'll start off the way every other review of this film surely starts off:  No this is not a review for the Wes Craven film of the same name (that can be found here ), but a review for a horror film from 1981.  Originally titled The Outing, the film was retitled Scream after another film came out called The Outing.  Directed by former Stuntman (?!?) Byron Quisenberry, Scream is considered by many to be one of the worst horror films ever made.  It is targeted for its lack of gore (most of the kills are offscreen), it's depth-less characters and its confusing ending.  I saw the video box for this at a local Blockbuster around 1997 and had to rent it, based on the great cover art and the title (Wes Craven's Scream had just come out and I was a big fan).  I had some friends come over hoping for a decent slasher and I'll admit, we were all very disappointed.  I remember fast forwarding through some of the film and had absolutely no idea what was going on through the rest.  It was a couple years ago that I started thinking about the film again and found a cheap VHS copy to give it another shot.  Shortly after, before I got a chance to watch it again, I found out that Code Red and Shriek Show were releasing the film on DVD with a director's commentary explaining the ending.  I decided I'd wait for the DVD and after being pushed back from its original release date (roughly 10 months ago!!!), it's finally available.

Scream begins with a group of people taking a white water rafting tour down the Rio Grande.  They reach their destination, a deserted ghost town and plan to stay there the night.  Suddenly though, a mysterious killer appears and starts offing the group one by one.  They find out that their rafts are gone and with the nearest town many miles away, they are stuck.  A couple motorcyclists appear and agree to take one of the men to get help.  Then an old sailor (Woody Strode), who appears from nowhere with a black dog and black horse, warns them that they are doomed.

Sounds like it could be a decent film but there are some things you should know about the film before deciding if you want to see it.  First of all, the film is very slow and the action happens very infrequently.  Also, the acting is not very good (except for Woody Strode's cameo, which lasts about 5 minutes).  Then there is the ending.  I watched the film twice and it wasn't until I watched it a third time and with the director's commentary that I finally understood the ending (even one of the moderator's didn't understand it!).  Despite all of this, the film does have a great atmosphere, a few scenes that make you jump and an interesting (or rather unique) plot (assuming you can understand it).  My suggestion, if you decide to take a chance on this challenging film, is to watch it once and then watch it again with the director's commentary.  Deciding whether your time is invaluable enough to waste on such a difficult film (that you'll probably still hate) is up to you.  Obviously mine was!

RATING:  4/10

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