[31 Days Of Horror ’22] Mini Reviews: The Silent Scream (1979) and Them! (1954)

Mini Review
Day 27: ‘Slash’
The Silent Scream (1979)

It is interesting to see earlier ‘slasher’ horror films, see when the genre really exploded and the ideas that were put into place. They will either work or they wont, the approach a slasher film takes can make or break how the film is seen or remembered. The film for Day 27 is a more obscure early slasher film with The Silent Scream (1979), taking clear inspiration from films such as Psycho (1960) and Black Christmas (1972), this is an interesting take on the slasher film with a poorly paced middle act.

College student Scotty Parker (Rebecca Balding) is in need of accommodation before she starts school, her search leads her to a beach front property that also houses some other students. The owner of the house, the mysterious Mrs Engels (Yvonne De Carlo) is rarely seen and her son Mason (Brad Rearden) acts as more of the landlord. As Scotty and her housemates begin to get to know each other and settle in, one of them is found murdered on the beach. Fearing for their safety, they question whether to stay but they may not have a choice as some secrets are hiding in the Engels family closet.

The first and third acts of the film are well handled and interesting with the second act being a little bit of a chore to get through. The characters aren’t very interesting and their bonding fails to have much chemistry. What does work is the build up to start with, establishing Scotty, the house, the mysterious family that lives there and the conclusion. There is a part of the film that is quite predictable early on, there is another twist that does come as a surprise as it is unexpected. The tension builds more towards the end of the film, the slowness from the middle does hinder it and the score doesn’t quite match what is happening on screen. The Silent Scream is a mixed bag of a film, definitely one to watch for slasher fans as it is a bit different and Barbara Steele is great in the film.


Mini Review
Day 28: ‘Insects’
Them! (1954)

Is there anything quite like 1950’s sci-fi/horror films? They really are in a league of their own, with many interesting ideas and more than likely some giant creatures too. That does lead us to Day 28’s film with Them! (1954) the classic giant creature film with big ants and a mishmash of people to work out what is going on. This era of films was a result of what the world was going through, WWII was over and there were atomic fears with an arms race. These feelings and fears of the time are reflected in the film, it just so happens to feature giant ants as a product of atomic testing gone wrong.

After a young girl is discovered wondering the desert in New Mexico, police officers investigate what has happened to her and why she’s alone. It soon leads them to discover there is a trail of destruction, with something unknown possibly causing it. The police officers team up with the FBI and some others to find out what is going on and soon enough is it found that there are giant ants roaming. These ants are forming a colony and they need to be stopped before they take over the world.

There is a lot to admire with Them!, the time it takes to set up the story ensures you get to know the cast of characters and get engaged in the mystery. At times the film does drag a little, it takes a little too long to get to the action and to the point with more exposition than was needed. The giant ants themselves look fantastic, amazing to see what could be achieved back in the early 50’s and they do have a very creepy feel to them. It is easy to see how this film amongst some others were highly influential with this sub-genre moving forward, the blue-print it set up works on many levels. Certainly a must see for fans of cinema from this era and or sci-fi/horror.



Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea


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