PLOT: A journalist visits the home of a small town historian and listens to four tales of the town’s sordid past.
Also known as The Offspring to US audiences, From a Whisper to a Scream feels like an off-brand Creepshow, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. I’ve never actually heard of this film prior to watching it, but it boasts a decent genre cast, and doesn’t waste too much of your time. My attitude towards anthology films is that, more often than not, you’ll be able to find at least one story that interests you. More or less, From a Whisper to a Scream delivers on that promise.
We start off with our wraparound story, as a woman gets executed by lethal injection. This death sends a journalist to the house of the executed prisoner’s uncle, who happens to be the town historian. The historian, played by Vincent Price, tells the reporter that the town has a history of sordid stories and then goes into four separate stories illustrating that fact. They include a story of a man driven to murder by his lust for a younger woman, a shady gangster-type’s pursuit of eternal life, a carnival sideshow controlled by an evil snake woman, and a Civil War-era gang of kids that take over after the war ravages their town.
For the most part, these stories keep your interest, but I wouldn’t say that any of them land quite like the better stories in Creepshow do. The first story has Clu Gulager as a timid guy that lives with his sister and has eyes for a younger woman that he works with. Things turn weird when she spurns his advances and he decides to take things down a dark path. We’ve also got a story in which Terry Kiser (Bernie from Weekend at Bernie’s) discovers the positives and negatives of eternal life, a story about a glasseater at a carnival trying to escape the clutches of the evil snake woman, and Cameron Mitchell in a Civil War setting trying to escape a cult of violent kids. Some of these work, some of them don’t, and Cameron Mitchell kisses a pre-teen girl on the lips before he kills her; It’s, at least, interesting.
This was an interesting little time waster, but not extraordinarily memorable. The stories each have their strengths and weaknesses, but there isn’t anything particularly bad in this. Creepshow does it better, but this one is worth your time, if for no other reason than to see Bernie deal with witch doctor’s before he does so in Weekend at Bernies II.
OVERALL RATING: 6 out of 10