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Friday, July 21, 2017

Death Screams aka. House of Death (1982)




I’m digging deep into the Slasher genre for this one. This is another of those lesser known movies that was released during the craze of the early ‘80s when it seemed like every week provided another entry into the genre. For this review I watched a VHS rip of the movie under the title House of Death. 

The movie opens with a couple getting to “know” each other on a motorcycle parked next to a bridge. As a train passes someone does them in and they fall into the river below. Then we are introduced to a bunch of kids as they get ready to head back to College. They plan on meeting up at a carnival and then head out for one last night of partying. This of course puts them directly in the sights of the killer who murdered the couple earlier. The night starts off at a bonfire, then they head to the cemetery, and finally end up in an old house when it starts raining. Along the way they lose people but don’t realize it. When they do figure it out they manage to be as stupid as you expect characters in a Slasher movie to be.
One of the reasons that I decided to do my Slasher movie marathon is to highlight some of the lesser known entries that casual fans might have missed. Death Screams is one of those movies that I think deserves a look. It has some flaws that are common to a lot of the low budget flicks made to cash in on the genre. While it starts off with a bang (see what I did there?) the pacing slows way down. We get shots of the characters wandering around the carnival establishing their relationships to each other. There are also some admittedly funny bits with one of the characters grandmother as well as a running gag with a kissing booth. These clearly exist only to pad the run time and are distracting. All of this character development and dialogue also draw attention to what is a weak cast. The acting is bad and it isn’t surprising that most of the participants had brief careers in front of the camera.
This is not a toy! Don't let kids play with it!
Death Screams does a few things very well. First it has a respectable body count with eleven kills. While most of them happen off-screen we do get a bit of throat slashing, a suffocation, and someone getting sawed almost in half. Toss in some hands getting lopped off and you have some decent gore. There are a couple of good jump scares that add to the tension and make you wonder what is going to happen next. The identity of the killer is kept in the dark until the very end. We are given many suspects but Death Screams never reveals too much. Finally, we get some POV shots from the killer stalking potential victims who are saved at the last minute.  
This is a solid Slasher that falls into that second tier. It isn’t a classic but it does enough to make it a good watch. It was directed by David Nelson of the Ozzie and Harriet show and their son in real life. Seems like the ‘80s craze of killers, blood, and nudity attracted just about everyone. I recommend it.

Next up in my Slasher movie marathon is Death Spa

© Copyright 2017 John Shatzer



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