From a Whisper to a Scream

From a Whisper to a Scream ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

This '80s anthology shocked the hell out of me! Sequel king Jeff Burr's horror debut sports an amazing cast, copious gore, a nasty edge and four creative, diverse and memorable segments. From a Whisper to a Scream opens with convicted killer Martine Beswick getting lethally injected, which sends reporter Susan Tyrrell to look up her uncle, Vincent Price. The old dandy maintains that his niece's reign of terror was caused by the pernicious evil of Oldfield, Tennessee itself, and he recounts four tales spanning the past century of his family's hometown to prove this point.

None of the stories are weak, but I'd say the least amazing one concerns a freak show glass eater and a normal townie girl, whose doomed romance runs afoul of carnival mistress Rosalind Cash's voodoo vengeance. It has a typical horror story ending, but also great gore, an agreeably over the top Cash and legendary little person Angelo Rossito. The one where outlaw Terry Kiser (Bernie of Weekend at... fame) meets a mysteriously ageless swamp dweller (Harry Caesar) is a slow-build with a brilliant, excessive and satisfying Twilight Zone sting. The concluding mess-terpiece blends 2,000 Maniacs with Children of the Corn as Cameron Mitchell's band of creep Union soldiers fall into the hands of proud Confederate children who like to play "pin the dismembered body part on the mutilated torso." But the one that won my heart was the opening segment, which inspired the movie's VHS retitle, The Offspring. This sick puppy stars Clu Gulager as a dweeb whose unsuccessful attempt to woo an office hottie leads to several murders, corpse fucking and a little undead visitor who kicks From a Whisper to a Scream from "fun cult anthology" into the fucking stratosphere.

Vincent Price reportedly disavowed the movie because of its extreme elements. No disrespect to Price, who I wholeheartedly love, but he was wrong, and I suspect he just didn't want anyone to hear his shoddy attempt at a southern drawl. The seediness of these tales - the decrepit carnie atmosphere, Kiser's lowlife criminal activity, Mitchell's kill-happy soldiers excited to force themselves on grieving Confederate widows, Clu Gulager trying to strangle his naked Baby Jane-painted sister in the bathtub - give it the raw edge that '80s horror fans demanded. The stories themselves are all decent enough to make this a success, but it's the dedicated follow-through that make it an overlooked classic. I am ashamed to have slept on From a Whisper to a Scream for so long.

Scrambled liked these reviews