Sunday, October 21, 2007

From a Whisper to a Scream

This is a rather obscure movie (you know, as opposed to all the others I review) from the 80s, more known for being one of Vincent Price’s last films than for anything else. Despite that, it manages to be a fairly amusing anthology, with each story (including the framing story with Vincent Price) giving us a neat twist ending.

A key to assessing how well a horror anthology works is to examine the strength of the humor involved. For whatever reason, though most likely involving old EC comics, the genre has grown to demand a healthy dose of gallows humor in the proceedings. The masters of this were the old Amicus anthologies and the original Creepshow, but this does a decent job of it too, which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise what with Price hosting it. For instance, in the first story we get a tale of a man who murders the woman he loves after she rejects him, and then has sex with her corpse. Instantly we’re given the message “9 months later”, which are ominous enough words at the best of times, even when one of the sexual partners wasn’t already deceased. Another story, even better, features a captured soldier trying to talk tough to his young captors, only to get a knife to the cock for his sass.

One of the film’s big sells is that each of the stories has a “surprise” twist ending, though, much like the twist in the first story, most of them are telegraphed pretty heavily. In addition to the necrophiliac love story, there's also one with an outlaw hiding out with a voodoo priest, a tragic love story with a carny, and a yarn from the Civil War that’s like Children of the Corn, only not as completely shit. All of them end pretty gruesomely, particularly the middle two, though outside of the circus one there wasn’t a single twist I didn’t see coming. Still, it’s a mostly entertaining film, and unlike From Beyond the Grave it understands the need to close with its best story, helping to ensure fond memories of it. As anthologies go, it’s pretty mid-range, but you could certainly do worse.

Rating: ** ½

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