I’m a sucker for horror anthologies, even the mediocre ones. There’s something about sitting down for a couple of hours and getting a few bite sized stories as opposed to one big one, and usually featuring some sort of wrap around tale, that seems so… comforting. Maybe it’s that I was raised on shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Tales from the Crypt, but the format has always appealed to me. My favorite anthology films – Creepshow, Vault of Horror, Tales from the Hood – are ones that manage to be cohesive while juggling sub-genres and the stories themselves, but More often than not, that’s hard to pull off. For every great, tight anthology film there are a number of them that feature one or two solid segments surrounded by generic genre fodder. Unfortunately, From a Whisper to a Scream fits in that category.
I had never seen this one prior to watching it for this review, though I had seen the box art featuring Vincent Price’s severed head many times. Being a big fan of Price and anthology movies, I was ready. Things start off with Price as our host – I was really hoping that he was a bigger part of this – in the town of Oldfield which is apparently a really fucking scary place to be. Price plays the town historian and begins to tell four stories that will prove Oldfield’s inherent evil, to mixed results.
I’m not going to recount the specifics of each tale because that would spoil the fun. But, you’ll get a pretty eccentric batch of genre staples to varying degrees of success. The first story was by far my favorite and is easily the most demented/excessive of the batch, with some incest and other sordid shit happening throughout. The final tale is the most drawn out and unsatisfying of the lot, with an emphasis on history really slowing things down. Where this collection really excels, is the gore. This is easily one of the more gory – if not goriest – 80s anthology flick that I can think of. I even cringed a couple of times at some of the more body horror focused moments, which really got under my… skin. From a Whisper to a Scream isn’t great Vincent Price and it isn’t great anthology horror, but it is a fun diversion while it lasts and I imagine that quite a few viewers will be more pleased with it than I was.
Scream Factory have brought this to Blu-ray for the first time and the results are like the movie: mixed. Shout Factory tend to be hit or miss with transfers, especially lately, and From a Whisper to a Scream sort of fits in the middle. This doesn’t look awful, by any means. Blacks are solid, colors are vibrant. But there’s a fair share of compression artifacts and a layer of noise that I’m not sure is all film grain. The result is a fair, but unimpressive, transfer of something that has likely looked better but almost definitely looked worse, as well. So, it is what it is. I can’t imagine fans finding this all too detrimental to the experience. Audio is in the form of 2.0 DTS HD, and it’s more than adequate. There’s a slight hiss at times when things quiet down, but I didn’t find it too distracting and the track is balanced nicely overall.
Now, here’s where this release gets interesting. The supplements are incredible. Actually, they may even be worth owning this disc for, depending on what you’re into. We get two – TWO – feature length documentaries. The first, and best, is A Decade Under the Innocence. This runs for roughly 90 minutes and chronicles the introduction and adoption of Super 8 filmmaking, starting in the 1960s. This is fascinating stuff and is highly anecdotal with much of its runtime devoted to interviews – including From a Whisper to a Scream director Jeff Burr – and including clips of Super 8 films. If this film were released on a stand alone disc, it’d be worth the price of admission alone. Next up is Return to Oldfield: The Making of From a Whisper to a Scream, and it’s what you’d expect it to be. Only 2 hours long! This is an exhaustive piece, with pretty much anything you’d want to know about the production revealed. Tons of interview footage is included – a mix of newly produced content and old – and it is always entertaining. I had a better time watching this than I did the movie it is about.
And that’s not all! We also get two audio commentary tracks: one with writer/director Jeff Burr and one with producer/writer Darin Scott and writer Courtney Joyner. I only listened to most of the first track and can recommend it. Burr is heavily interviewed in the two feature length docs yet there’s still info here that isn’t available in either of those places. If you ever wanted to know everything there is to know about this movie, odds are you’ll find it here. All that’s left is some still galleries and trailers, but I don’t think that anyone will be asking for more.
From a Whisper to a Scream is a pretty generic – though very gory – horror anthology that just happens to feature Vincent Price in its wrap around segments. It’s far from the worst that the genre has to offer but isn’t all that special either. However, Scream Factory’s presentation – despite some video transfer issues – is impossible to not recommend. Even if you aren’t a fan of the film, there is hours of content here worth diving into. Films with a much higher pedigree and/or fanbase are seldom afforded treatment like this, awesome work here.