Scream (1981) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Scream (1981) Review

Horrorific content by jessicagomez on January 08th, 2021 | Movie Review | Slasher, Desolate, B-Horror, 80's Horror

A group of travelers spend the night in a ghost town, where they are picked off by an unknown assailant, one by one.

Scream was directed by Byron Quisenberry and stars Pepper Martin, Hank Worden, Ethan Wayne and Woody Strode (from Kingdom Of The Spiders).

...no one ever returns from this phantom town of TERROR!

Scream Review

Years before Wes Craven’s Scream, a favorite of fans and critics alike, there was a slasher of the very same name. After the success of Halloween and Friday the 13th, the 1981 film Scream was given a theatrical release, but unlike its predecessors, it’s been long forgotten. Now I know why.

You won’t be done any favors from the writing or the direction as you try to figure out the premise, so I’ll break it down for you the best I can. The opening scene shows a few figurines in a grim setup. I will save you the time trying to figure out how it relates to the story, because it doesn’t. Cut to a group of travelers tubing down a river who, for some reason, end their trip at a ghost town where they spend the night. The site has been long abandoned - no electricity or neighboring towns to go to for help. As the night goes on, members of the group are picked off by an unknown murderer. In the morning, their rafts are missing, and they have no other means of getting to help. Two drifters roll through on their Kawasakis in maybe the worst product placement I’ve ever seen, but they go missing pretty quickly.

There is - and I mean this - zero character development. There’s a really angry smoker, played by Pepper Martin, and a guy who’s somewhat inept and afraid of ghosts and generally given a hard time by his fellow travelers. Beyond that, I couldn’t tell you what characters knew each other, or even what their names were. There is no background given to any of the characters, and the acting is laughable. If the killer was one of them, you wouldn’t care which one it was.

There are no romantic interludes. No suspense, at the behest of Quisenberry’s abnormally drawn out shots of people staring off in the distance. The score is fitting for a mid-70s romcom, and in no way for a horror movie. And there are no observable kill scenes. This is a slasher where the camera cuts away from every kill. How does that work? ...It doesn’t.

I’ve read that the script wasn’t finished before filming began, which would explain why halfway through it changes from slasher to supernatural, and then possibly possession. We get an “explanation” about what’s happening from an old-timey ghost, which plays as ridiculous as it sounds. Except it’s not an explanation, it’s a few vague sentences that have nothing to do with any of the characters or the town they’re in; we’re suddenly introduced to a story of a sailor and his cruel captain. (There’s no ocean anywhere nearby.) The ghost town setting is meant to draw up some feeling of creepiness, but there are too many of the same shot, and once you (sort of) figure out that the town is irrelevant to the antagonist, whose motivations remain unknown, there goes any semblance of unease. And, that’s all we know. The end.

The original plot was a perfect setup for a slasher, but the only familiarity I can draw to modern slashers is the overuse of the phrase “I’ll be right back.” I can’t believe how badly this was botched. The most shocking element of this movie is that John Wayne’s son was in it.

Worth Watching?

This might be the worst horror movie I’ve ever seen. Not even worth a hate watch, unless the thing that you hate is yourself.

Scream (1981) Worth Watching? - ALL HORROR Tweet it

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