SCREAM FOR HELP
The script for Scream for Help comes from a young, then unknown Tom Holland. Holland also wrote works like The Initiation of Sarah (tv movie, 1978), The Beast Within (1982), The Class of 1984 (1982), Psycho II (1983) and Cloak and Dagger (1984), before making his directorial debut with the hits of Fright Night (1985) and Childs Play (1988). Tom Holland went onto make other directorial works such as The Temp (1993), The Langoliers (tv mini-series, 1995) and Thinner (1996) but his presence has faded away after the end of the 1990s.
Scream for Help is often referred to as a slasher film. One feels that this miscategorises it somewhat. It is more like a 1940s psycho-thriller with a Boy Who Cried Wolf concept a la The Spiral Staircase (1946) or Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) wherein a heroine sees a crime but is doubted by everybody around her as she attempts to tell someone. (Tom Holland likes these Boy Who Cried Wolf concepts in his scripts and cast characters where nobody will believe what they saw at the centre of Cloak and Dagger, Fright Night and here). Scream for Help is in essence one of these 1940s thriller made with a 1980s slasher sensibility that puts an emphasis on gratuitous naked breasts, gore and random victimisation. Certainly, Scream for Help rests far more in traditional psycho-thriller plotting and tropes than a typical 1980s slasher film, which usually stripped plotting away to a series of scenes with a boogieman stalking young co-eds. Indeed, in contrast to the typical slasher heroine, here Rachael Kelly manages to lose her virginity during the course of the film the nearest she gets to slasher movie chastity is when she insists that she is going to swear off sex altogether after seeing her stepfathers naked tumblings.
Scream for Help is made with Michael Winners usual slapdash ham-handedness. Winners ability to generate suspense is crude like an absurdly staged scene where Rachael Kelly is hiding in a bathtub with the curtain pulled and Lolita Lorre contrives to tip her bleeding head in after being beaten in a marital spat with Rocco Sisto and pulls on the curtain popping the rings off yet fails to notice Kelly hiding there less than two feet away. The latter half of the film works better where Tom Hollands script manages to confine most of the characters to the house and plays off their various attempts to escape and questions of who they can trust or who is about to betray the other with a number of whiplash twists.
Not many of the cast were heard from again. There is some undeniably bad acting throughout notably from an irritatingly geeky Corey Parker who plays with a snotty unlikeability. (Oddly enough, Corey Parker is one of the few in the cast who went onto better things). The one good performance in the cast comes from David (Allen) Brooks who plays the villainous stepfather with an undeniably dashing mix of handsomeness and ruthlessness. Rocco Sisto, who is decidedly reminiscent of David Hess out of The Last House on the Left (1972), plays with a psychopathic cruelty.