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From A Whisper To A Scream (Blu-ray Review)

From-A-Whisper-To-A-ScreamScream Factory have proven to be the experts when it comes to the works of Vincent Price.  In the last two years, they’ve release two super freaking awesome boxed sets.  Now comes a standalone release which is a bit of a surprise.  I sort of worry about a third box set this coming October as Kino Lorber has been announcing a flurry of Price titles as of late (Leave Scream Factory alone, you!  We want more Price Collections!).  Who knows, if there’s one group full of pleasant surprises its Scream Factory.  From A Whisper To A Scream is one I’ve found even some big Vincent Price fans aren’t too familiar with.  Its his final role in a horror movie.  A small one, but significant enough and fun.  The film was an attempt at trying to bring back the horror anthology film and was tossed aside by moviegoers and critics at the time.  But time is usually kind to a lot of vintage horror that may have been ahead of its time or misunderstood back then.  Would this be one of those?

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Film 

On the night his niece is executed for committing a string of brutal killings, historian Julian White reveals the sinister secrets of her hometown, Oldfield, Tennessee, a horrific hamlet that spawns evil! But as the town’s murderous legacy is exposed with White’s chilling accounts – including stories of a necrophilic madman, a voodoo priest with life-prolonging powers and a legion of children with an appetite for flesh – White doesn’t realize that he is about the write the final chapter of Oldfield’s morbid history…in his own blood!

Let’s start this off talking about Vincent Price.  He’s just as dandy as ever here, even though his involvement is relegated to the wrap around story and he never much leaves the room he’s in let alone his seat.  Apparently, the filmmakers stalked his house and showed up with a script to get him into the movie.  He did a read through with them and agreed to take on the part.  Years later, I guess he expressed deep regret for being a part of the film.  I don’t think is one that he should have felt that way on.  But, he was an older chap from a long passed era and a lot of the strong gore and mean spirited nature of the film may not have been his cup of tea.

The film Vincent regretted is a good ‘ol anthology revival.  Like many of them, you like some and you don’t care for some.  I was on board for two of these and found something decent about another.  This one did stand out to me as it was a really violent and gory horror movie.  It touched on some “wow, they went there topics” and disturbing sequences.  I mean, watching Clu Gulager as a incestic necrophiliac was something else.

It must be said that this film starts out with what I found to be a pretty outstanding opening sequence of a woman getting the death penalty.  The opener is pretty stylistically edited and the woman gives a hell of a creepy performance.  For me, it was the height of this film that it never truly got back to.  It did excel in some different areas, but I was loving this and glued into the movie right off the bat.  This film provides plenty of horror fanatics in all different aspects “needs” or checklist items, so every type is going to find something here.

Longtime horror journeyman director Jeff Burr’s debut film, From A Whisper To A Scream is a neat little project that was shot over a few years.  For the most part it works and entertains.  It just has a hard time holding on to steam as some of the stories just don’t hit big highs.  There is some good disturbing details and gruesome gore to delight any horror fiend.  Its also our last look at the master, Vincent Price, in a horror film.  And in all honesty, its actually a pretty solid and decent send off.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  The image for this is quite more on the softer side.  Detail isn’t one of its strong suits, although in some close-up scenes it can truly impress.  I’m guessing this was a print that wasn’t in the best of shape, but kudos to cleaning it up the best they could.

Depth:  This is a rather flat picture.  Movements are pretty smooth and background blurriness is a tad more clear than average.

Black Levels:  Blacks come raging in.  A lot of graininess during darkly lit scenes.  Some detail gets hidden in the darkness.  No real crushing noticed though.

Color Reproduction:  BLOOD!  Red blood sticks out pretty solid here.  I was also impressed with the green’s in Terry Kiser’s sequence looking natural and rich.

Flesh Tones:  Natural and consistent.  Close ups provide wrinkles, stubble, cracks and scuffs.

Noise/Artifacts:  A solid layer of grain and specs throughout.  There is some frame shakiness during the opening credits.  But once words are done appearing on the screen it goes away.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA Stereo

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  A decent track that gets the job done, but isn’t going to wow over anyone.  There is minimal analog distortions (if any).  Sounds are pretty well rounded.  At a few points there’s some muffled sounding things, but its likely from the source and isn’t going to sound any better in this day and age.

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Loud and clear.

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Extras 

The reverse side of the cover features alternate poster art.  This one for the film under the title The Offspring.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Jeff Burr
  • With Producer Darin Scott and Co-Screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner

Return To Oldfield: The Making Of FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM (HD, 1:56:25) – The Making of is even longer than the film itself!  This terrific and very in depth documentary brings together the film’s crew to discuss making this film, their early careers and convincing the master to be in their film.

A Decade Under The Influence (HD, 1:17:25) – A really terrific documentary about filmmakers of the Super 8mm era and how it defined them.

Stills Gallery (HD, 10:23) – Jeff Burr introduces and narrates scrap book material, news clippings, behind the scenes photos, storyboards and more.

Theatrical Trailer – No trailer here, just froze on an empty title set.  You can still access the pop-up menu to get out, though.

TV Spots (HD, 2:13) – Coded in AVC, looks to be sourced from a VHS tape.  All of them use the title “The Offspring”.
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Summary 

From A Whisper To A Scream is like many anthology films out there; you’re at least going to somewhat enjoy one of these stories.  Scream Factory’s release enhances what is merely a decent film by loading it with some great feature length documentaries.  The one about the making of the film is even more entertaining than the film itself and lends to a greater appreciation for it.  People into studying film and filmmaking with get a good kick out of the Super 8 documentary.  It features an average presentation, but is a rather strong release.  Price collector’s, Scream Factory collectors and vintage horror aficionados should want this one of the whole package of supplementals that accompany this film.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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