Tuesday, 20 September 2011



Horror fans of a certain generation tend to be nostalgic for movies that perhaps aren't the very best. No-one up to and including the people who actually made them would suggest that Friday The 13th Part II, Happy Birthday To Me or The House By The Cemetery are neglected Works Of Art that were cheated at the world's Academies, but many would take grungy splatter and slasher B-movies any day over the A-list productions we're supposed to like and admire. But even with drive-in slasher ripoffs there are good and bad, and while it's fun to reminisce about films like Rosemary's Killer, it's no fun with the underachieving rubbish like this pitiful 1981 obscurity starring no-one you've ever heard of in which hardly anything happens.

There's really not much point in going through the plot of Death Screams - a homicidal maniac butchers a couple of teens making out by the train tracks. Forty minutes later, after a slab of uninterrupted blathery soap opera that would make a Crossroads fan weep in boredom, someone gets shot with an arrow. More teens then gather by the river to make out, before heading off to the cemetery to smoke, drink and tell ghost stories. Eventually the mad killer turns up, decapitates some idiot in a car and runs around with a machete before being revealed as someone or other. Apparently he saw some tits when he was a kid and therefore grew up with an urge to kill people.

The gore is minimal and what there is isn't massively well done; the characters are all dull and there isn't even a total scumbag to get angry about (and to get pleased about when he/she gets murdered), and some of the performances are so poor you can't believe they're actors rather than people randomly pulled off the street. The killer's motivation is frankly rubbish, two thirds of the movie take place in badly lit pitch darkness, and it plays out against a monumentally inappropriate score that's partly generic synth drones and partly a brass/funk orchestra playing sub-Kojak cop show grooves. Keep up the nostalgia for early eighties slasher movies by all means, but not for this dross.


NOTE: I've subsequently been informed that the Vipco release of Death Screams has the reels in the wrong order! This may well mean that if presented correctly, Death Screams is a fairly decent little slasher flick and worth another star or two. However, tough. This is the edit they've released and if Vipco have ballsed it up that's their problem. I can only review what's in front of me. Even if the reels were switched back, there'd still be the rotten music, shoddy acting and absence of gore (for an 18 certificate film) to contend with.

No comments: