VHSaturday: Scream For Help (1984)

Sometimes you worship a VHS tape simply because you have no other options and SCREAM FOR HELP (1984) is just such a tape. Due to the death of righteousness caused by the extinction of unicorns (or more likely, music rights issues) this difficult to categorize teen thriller has yet to find its way to DVD let alone Blu-ray. In other words, if you ever come across a VHS tape of SCREAM FOR HELP and a brick of 14k gold hanging off a cliff and you can only save one- choose the tape! Trust me, there is NOTHING in the world like this movie. It’s completely in a lunatic class all by itself to the point that it basically exists in its own dimension. There is life before you see it and there is life after you see it and watching it is an experience you’ll treasure forever. It’s gloriously its own thing and surges with a blatant disregard to subtly, good taste or anything resembling mundane sanity. My advice: If you meet anyone who doesn’t like this movie run as fast as you can away from them unless that person is TOM HOLLAND. It is said screenwriter HOLLAND (of brilliant PSYCHO II fame) was anything but pleased with how director MICHAEL WINNER (of kooky THE SENTINEL fame) handled his screenplay and who can blame him? It’s clear from the opening scene that something is seriously (and sometimes hilariously) amiss. But I thank heaven above for everything that screeches, clanks and rattles in this indescribable misfire. Sorry, I much prefer a highly original failure to a soggy routine success. This movie simply rules.

Let’s look at the tape! Geez, with all of poor SCREAM FOR HELP’s erratic identity issues (Thriller? Horror? Soapy Drama? Afterschool Special From Hell?), it sure could have used an ad campaign that didn’t suck Nilla Wafers. Its title is certainly no prize in the memorability department, so the least they could do is grant it some eye-catching imagery. I don’t know if I mentioned it before but I furiously despise white box art. Seriously, it looks like it’s just begging to fade to gray or turn yellow and as an oldster horror collector, my peepers are permanently magnetized to black and red (is it psychotic that I still remember how the boxes for DEAN KOONTZ’s WHISPERS (1990) and RELATIVE EVIL (1994) would wreck the uniformity of my video store’s horror section? The only white box I ever forgave was THE WEEKEND IT LIVES (1992)). And the sappy cursive handwriting doesn’t help either. It looks like somebody was jotting down a grocery list while the tape just happened to be by the phone. Sadly I also have the SCREAM FOR HELP soundtrack album and its alternate artwork isn’t any improvement. But hey, this means we can learn a lesson today! The cover art doesn’t matter! Bad art doesn’t mean a bad movie- or even a good one in this case. Bad art doesn’t mean anything. Some magical movies defy description, illustration or even explanation. They have to be seen to be believed (or not believed as is the case here). In closing, if you have to kill someone to see SCREAM FOR HELP– you should totally consider it (or you can rent it for three bucks HERE). One things for sure, you can’t borrow my tape.

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