‘The birth of your worst nightmare.’
From a Whisper to a Scream, also known as The Offspring, is a 1987 American anthology horror film directed by Jeff Burr (Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III; Stepfather II; Pumpkinhead II) from a screenplay he co-wrote with C. Courtney Joyner (Prison; Puppet Master IIII) and Darin Scott (Tales from the Hood; Dark House).
The film stars Vincent Price, Clu Gulager (The Initiation; Uninvited; Feast trilogy), Terry Kiser, Harry Caesar, Rosalind Cash (The Ωmega Man; Doctor Black, Mr. Hyde), Cameron Mitchell, Susan Tyrrell (Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker), Martine Beswick, Lawrence Tierney. The special makeup effects were created by Tom Burman (Cat People).
In Oldfield, a small Tennessee town, an elderly historian named Julian White (Vincent Price) relates four horror stories to Beth Chandler, a reporter (Susan Tyrrell): “One is never too old for nightmares”. The stories are connected to the past and present of Oldfield, which seems to be an epicentre for pure evil…
The first, set in modern times, involves awkward grocery clerk Stanley Burnside (Clu Gulager) who attempts to date his glamorous boss (Megan McFarland) with disastrous results (the film’s video title The Offspring presumably refers to this segment).
The second segment, set in the 1950s, is the tale of a wounded man (Terry Kiser) on the run from murderous gangsters, who encounters a mysterious man (Harry Ceasar) who may be guarding a powerful secret.
The third segment, set in the 1930s, involves a local girl (Martine Beswick), who falls in love with a glass-eating carnival performer (Ron Brooks) much to the displeasure of the carnival’s controlling Snakewoman (Rosalind Cash).
The fourth and final segment, set during the American Civil War, finds Union Sgt. Gallen (Cameron Mitchell) and his men encountering a group of children living alone, apparently without adults, on an isolated farmhouse. They appear to be war orphans, but all is not what it seems, as Gallen and his men quickly learn.
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“Jeff Burr’s first movie is very low budget in its own right, but there’s no denying a passion for what he, his crew, and surprisingly high level stable of actors were able to accomplish with what little resources were at their disposal. Of all the other omnibus style pictures of that decade, From a Whisper to a Scream is easily the most repulsively downbeat with its distasteful denouements. It has balls — blood-soaked as they are — something visibly lacking from horror pictures of that time period and into the 1990s.” Cool Ass Cinema
“Jeff Burr adopts a darkly gritty low key lighting scheme which, while clearly helping to disguise the low budget, also adds a darkly haunted mood to the film – and is something that often works to extraordinarily moody effect, particularly in the second episode. There are a couple of times when Burr inserts irritatingly pointless cutaway effects – flash fantasies of Megan McFarland dribbling blood from her mouth, Terry Kiser dreaming his dinghy is being attacked by underwater zombies – but not that often. The film also boasts a fine cast… ” Moria
“The really cool thing about the movie as a whole is that all of the stories take place in one town (at different points in time), giving the film a sense of cohesion and local flavor that anthologies never really have. Even Cat’s Eye, which had a similar “They’re all in the same world” narrative, went from big cities to small towns, and there was no distinct personality to them. But this is a VERY southern movie, from the accents to the customs (not too many areas where a voodoo man living in a swamp can really work).” Horror Movie a Day
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