Revisiting some flicks from the past can be painful. Movies you loved when you were a kid growing up somehow have changed before your eyes and the magic you once saw in them has disappeared decades later. But on the other end of things there are films that you vaguely remember from all those years hitting the old videostore and only after getting a new edition on a different format years later your mind is reminded of a forgotten film. A movie you decide to take home on a dark night and pop in your player to see if any memories of 10-12 year old you come back from seeing it for the first time on a grainy VHS tape all those years ago. When it came to THE OFFSPRING aka FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM my smile kept growing as the film went on with each story somehow being more fucked up then the last. So let me share my thoughts on this beauty…
Before I get into it I would like to state I prefer the title THE OFFSPRING. It goes better with the overall theme of the story and to be honest that is how I was first introduced to the film. Either way big props to Scream Factory for a reversible cover so you can pick your own favourite.
The movie starts with the execution of one Katherine White. She is getting the old lethal injection on a stormy night because of a horrible crime she apparently committed that makes no sense to most but death she must face. Interestingly enough we get a cameo from character actor Lawrence Tierney, good old Joe from QT’s Reservoir Dogs. So Katherine gets the old needle much to the anger of reporter Beth Chandler. It’s not sitting right with her at all the same way having all the reporters and staff hovered around Katherine didn’t sit well with me. Seriously, is that regulation when doing a lethal injection? Anyways…moving on.
So our reporter decides to pay a visit later that night to Katherine’s uncle, Julian White, played by the one and only iconic genre legend Mr. Vincent Price. I could listen to that man talk in a film for hours and apparently so can our reporter friend. You see, after Beth tells Julian that his niece was excuted that night he wants her to understand that there is and always has been an evil in this town, the town of Oldfield. She decides to take a seat in his library and listen to his tales of what truly this town is all about.
Our first tale involves another one of my favourite genre actos, Clu Culager. Most might know him from Return Of The Living Dead. Nightmare On Elm Street 2, or the Feast trilogy. In this story he plays Stanley Burnside. A man who lives with his grown sister that is always needing of him in bizarre ways like giving her a cold as hell bath with ice being chipped and thrown in the tub for her. He tends to have disturbing dreams involving women that are dead and is completely obsessed with his co-worker Grace. A beautiful lady that Stanley feels would a perfect fit in his life.
Our mentally unstable friend Stanley manages to convince Grace to go for dinner as a friend. Ofcourse Stanley can’t handle his weirdness and on the drive home he decides to show his true feelings to Grace. Shit goes terribly wrong and he ends up strangling her to death and leaves her body on the side of the road.
In only horror movie fashion from the 80s after it is announced at his work the next day that Grace was murdered the previous night no one bats an eye at Stanley even though in the real world he would be prime suspect number one. But hey, where is the fun in solving the crime when more crazy shit must happen in our story and crazy and all types of WTF it does get. You see, Stanley still wants Grace or should I say dead corpse Grace. And at the wake when no one is around Stanley breaks into the funeral home with a bottle of champagne and presents himself to her lying body in the coffin. Yup, necrophilia hits our eyes early in this movie.
NINE MONSTHS LATER. This is written on the screen. Old Stanley is enjoying his routine life again. Palling around with co-workers, planning bowling and poker nights with the boys, but on this night after getting home and having his grown sister begging for help in the bathtub he finally snaps. In a creepy fashion she is caked with way too much mak up to make this bath session a special one. Stanley has had enough of babysitting her and instead of chipping ice for her bath he uses the icepick on her along with another strangling session.
Now because this night is “Nine Months Later” my dear friends I think we know where this is going but damn it was still fun. Noises are heard in Stanley’s place and to no one’s surprise it ofcouse is coming from the corpse baby of his love session with Grace. Oh Stanley, you done fucked up.
Next up Uncle Julian wants to tell reporter Beth the story about one Jesse Hardwick that happened in 1957. The great Terry Kiser takes up the role of Hardwick. Kiser will always be known as “Bernie” from Weekend At Bernie’s but he always has popped up in genre flicks such as Friday The 13th Part VII and the recently rediscovered Tammy And The T-Rex.
So Jesse Hardwick is not a good guy and owes a lot people a lot of money. While hiding in a trailer on the outskirts of town his lady rats him out to the local loan sharks and they arrive with guns ready. After a quick chase Jesse gets shot and falls into the woods off the road. It was a great shot by the goons and they leave Jesse to crawl in the woods knowing he’s done for. But as Jesse crawls into a boat to float down the river basically bleeding to death a elderly man named Felder Evans fishes him out and brings him to his cabin in the woods.
Seems it was lucky that Jesse came across Felder’s path. As he wakes up from his recovery Felder has him all bandaged up and has some hot grub waiting for him. Felder seems like a guy who has seen some things in his life and likes keeping alone but even he admits it’s nice to have company.
As Jesse continues to lay low and recover at Felder’s pad he begins to notice that his new savoir is keeping odd hours at night and performing some interesting voodoo almost black magic type of shit. Doing even more digging around Jesse comes across some papers that boogle his mind. Basically convincing him that Felder is a lot older than he looks. Calling him “Old Man” all the time is one thing but figuring out that Mr. Evans might be older than 130 years has his mind racing. And let’s not forget that Jesse is no saint and always looking for a buck to be made.
When Jesse uses force to get Felder to give up his secret for more life things go wrong on every level for him. You see Felder just wanted to help someone out and have maybe a new friend to hang out with. You figure after saving someone’s life from shitty loan shark thugs they might have a change in the way they look at life? Nope. Not Jesse. Still a piece of shit that wants Felder to give him the secret so he can exploit it. Now the problem for poor old Jesseis once Felder gets the upper hand on Jesse and has him subdued he confesses that he used this power already on Jesse. Infact he used enough that Jesse was gonna live and not age for another 70 years! But now showing his true colours to Felder he is left with no choice. He might not die for 70 years but he will pay a price regardless. With an axe Felder chops off limbs from poor Jesse, pours gas on him and burns him to a crisp leaving his tortured body in a sack on the road to be discovered. This is the second body in this movie to be dumped on a road. Interesting. Anyways, now in a hospital we hear the doctors saying there is no way this man should be alive after what his body has been through. But here is Jesse Hardwick. Alive and in the most agony one could ever feel for atleast another 70 years. Rememeber kids, don’t fuck over a man who gives you a helping hand. Bad god damn mojo.
Now what would a horror anthology be without a little bit of love? That is exactly what we get for our third story which takes place in the 30s set around one of the best horror movie atmospheres…the carnival. And well played on the naming of this carnival that loves a good freak show.
At Lovecraft’s Travelling Amusements there are many wonders to behold. Sword swallowers, the man with no face, snake charmers, and ofcourse the man who can eat anything including glass, metal, etc. His name is Steve Arden and a young lady named Amarrillis is madly in love with him. She has yet to miss a show and the two touch base after with feelings of love in the air.
With a fellow carnie witness to Steve’s romance he is quickly ratted out to the Snake Woman who we soon realize runs this entire operation. She warns if not tells Steve to forgot about any love with Amarrillis. He is the property of the carinval and that’s that. We soon learn that the boss of this show, played by the lovely Rosalind Cash who I just wrote about in Death Spa, not only rules but gave each one of these “freaks” their special gifts so they could ascape their previously lives. Basically you get the idea that all these people did some terrible shit that has the law after them and by changing their looks or giving them these new abilities to perform they would never get caught. But it comes with a price. No life of your own including love.
Well curses and warning be damned. Steve loves Amarrillis and she loves Steve. I mean, look at her face staring in desire towards the glass eater? L-O-V-E. So after a daring escape from the carny Steve and Amarillis drive off and shack up at roadside motel to finally be free and make sweet sweet pasionate love. Unfortunately….
We all know in movies like these curses and warnings are true as shit and just when the two are getting heavy Steve starts feeling a lot of pain from within his body. You see, by leaving the gang at the carnival behind his powers left too and all those pieces of metal and glass in his body still need to leave as well…from all parts of his body.
Amarrillis witnesses chunks of glass and metal exploding out of Steve from his stomach and face as the motel is covered in the red stuff. Shortly after the Snake Woman shows up to see an in shock Amarrillis holding what’s left of Steve’s body in bed. She is beyond gone and more importantly no police would believe her story that she did not kill him herself. All this to be said the boss lady may have lost a performer but now knows she has gained a new one to make up for it. But what power could be given to be useful and an attraction?
And with the last image of Amarrillis we see the glass eater has been replace with the human pincushion. Poor Amarillis….never follow love. It will only hurt you.
The final chapter of the horrible things that happen in Oldfield takes place during the Civil War. It is probbably the most twisted one and yet finding screen pics for it is a pain the ass so I’m gonna sum it up like we’re taking in a bar right now.
“So the civil war is over but these shitty soldiers are still killing the other soildiers who have clearly surrendered. So obviously they are scumbags. Infact one of their guys thinks it’s bullshit too and says he’s leaving and going home but they shot him too. Like what the fuck! Bartender, two Jagers please!”
“Anyways, where was I? Oh ya, so somehow they get captured by these orphaned kids due to the war called “The Gang”. Now these kids have seen some shit. Their parents completely wiped out from the war, left to fend for themselves. And they know that these scumbag soldiers are indeed scumbags!”
“With the main baddie tied up he’s being fed by a little girl missing an eye and using a crutch named Amanda who tells the Sargeant that he reminds her of her father. Now the Sarge uses this knowledge to convince her to untie him and won’t you know it, she totally does and he fucking breaks her neck! A ten year old girl with only one eye for christ’s sake! Now talk about evil.”
“After trying to escape he sees his two fellow scumbag soldiers or atleast what’s left of them. One has his eye removed and gutted and the other, shiiiit, in one twisted kid’s game he’s been chopped up with his torso hanging from a tree and his limbs have hooks in them that the kids use as some kind of pin the tail on the donkey thing. For an 80s flick involving kids the shit is twisted!”
“So he’s about to get away as he runs through the woods but guess who he bumps into? The fellow soldier he thought he killed at the beginning and he fucks the sarge up leaving him there for the kids to take him back. Oh sweet irony!”
“Better have another cheers and drink from our beer because the final moments are pretty messed up. So before killing the Sarge the kids introduce him to their all mighty great one who’s rules they follow. And you wanna know what? Their “leader” is actually a creation of body parts made of all their dead parents that were killed in the war by shitty people like these very soldiers! After that they torch his ass outdoors while tied to a chair. The end. Trust me man, the more evil kids shit I see the more kids in gerneal freak me out. Quick, last call is almost over. Order another round”
Now with Uncle Juilan done telling the tales of what a horrible place Oldfield is good old Beth confesses to him that she was not just there to do a reporter’s duty. Oh no, she was there to help end all this crazy shit on behave of her friend Katherine White. With a swift and brutal stab she gives old Mr. Price a “how do you do?!” with a serious one time blade plunging in his neck. But god bless Vincent for getting the last word in this movie as he should with simply saying in his dying breath…”WELCOME TO OLDFIELD…”
I make no bones. I love horror anthologies. From Asylum and Creephow to Chillerama and Southbound. They are a blast and if one story does not quite cut it you you never have to wait long for the next to win you back. Also wanted to say this slice of 80s goodness was directed by Jeff Burr who make the very underrated “LEATHERFACE: TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III” shortly after. So if you are looking for a decent fun time and want to see Vincent Price in one of his twilight roles give it a go. Also the Scream Factory Blu Ray has a 2 hour documentary on the making of the film! Bonus. Till next time my dear friends, remember, the videostore loves you. Cheers!