Scream (1981)

Wait — am I finally stooping to reviewing the film that single-handledly led to every bastardized MTV slasher wanna-be that littered the shelves of video stores as they died a sad death and even now enraged me as I scan past them on my streaming services?

No. Nope. Not at all.

Instead, we’re talking about 1981’s Scream, also released as The Outing.

It was the auteur project for Byron Quisenberry, which sounds like the name of one of the suitors for the Little Women, but he was also the director of 2004’s Hollywood, It’s a Dog’s Life and did stunts for movies like 1972’s Enter the DevilMannequin on the Move and Return of the Living Dead.

Beyond writing, producing, directing and doing stunts for this movie, his wife C.L. Huff was the costume designer, nurse, caterer and make-up artist.

I’ll tell you the story of Scream short and sweet: twelve people go camping on the Rio Grande, make the dumb decision to spend the night in an old ghost town, then have to deal with an unseen killer that takes them all out one by one.

To wit: Allen is hung, Rod and John are hacked with a cleaver, Andy gets hit in the face with an axe, would-be leader Bob gets his head chopped off, throws a bunch of dirt bike kids through a door, and Jerry is just found dead.

In between all that, a mysterious cowboy named Charlie Winters (Woody Strode, in addition to being in SpartacusJaguar Lives!Keoma and many more films, was also a pro wrestler from 1949 to 1962) arrives and claims to have been hunting the killer — the ghost of an old sea captain — for forty years.

Woody Strode wasn’t the only pro wrestler in this movie. Pepper Martin plays Bob and he had a long career mainly in the Pacific Northwest. At one point in his career, Strode invited Pepper to Hollywood where they and Lee Marvin ended up screaming in director John Ford’s lawn at 3 in the morning. Somehow, he became friends with the legendary Ford after this.

Another John Ford regular, Hank Worden, also shows up here. You may know him as a senile waiter from the Twin Peaks series or from being in The Searchers. And another actor from that film — John Wayne’s son Ethan — is in this film, too.

Alvy Moore — Hank Kimball from Green Acres — also shows up, making this the fourth slasher I’ve seen him in (for those playing trivia, the others would be IntruderMortuary and The Horror Show).

Quisenberry was influenced by Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians and was really loose with the story while shooting, not even telling the cast who the killer was.

The results are a movie that isn’t well-considered thanks to its plodding pace, lack of good kills, bad acting and a killer that never shows up, not to mention a hero who runs away after he shoots the villain.

If you can say anything nice about the movie, it’s that the location — the Paramount Movie Ranch — looks great. It’s also where the original Westworld and parts of Bone Tomahawk were also shot there.

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