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John’s Horror Corner: From a Whisper to a Scream (1987; aka The Offspring), a lower budget horror anthology with some zany-gory special effects.

April 12, 2020

MY CALL: Middle-of-the-road, but still entertaining territory. There’s some macabre nudity, necrophilia, an undead baby, mystical carnies and voodoo dolls. I’d call it passable lower budget 80s fare due for its diversity of effects.

MORE HORROR ANTHOLOGIES: Dead of Night (1945), Black Sabbath (1963), Tales from the Crypt (1972), The Vault of Horror (1973), The Uncanny (1977), Screams of a Winter Night (1979), Creepshow (1982), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye (1985), Deadtime Stories (1986), Creepshow 2 (1987), After Midnight (1989), Tales from the Crypt Season 1 (1989), Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), Two Evil Eyes (1990), Grimm Prairie Tales (1990), The Willies (1990), Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996), Campfire Tales (1997), Dark Tales of Japan (2004), 3 Extremes (2004), Creepshow 3 (2006), Trick ‘r Treat (2007), Chillerama (2011), Little Deaths (2011), V/H/S (2012), The Theater Bizarre (2012), The ABCs of Death (2013), V/H/S 2 (2013), All Hallows’ Eve (2013), The Profane Exhibit (2013), The ABCs of Death 2 (2014), V/H/S Viral (2014), Southbound (2015), Tales of Halloween (2015), A Christmas Horror Story (2015), The ABCs of Death 2.5 (2016), Holidays (2016), Terrified (2017; aka Aterrados, a pseudo-anthology), Oats Studios, Vol. 1 (2017), Ghost Stories (2017), XX (2017), The Field Guide to Evil (2018), Shudder’s series Creepshow (2019) and Xenophobia (2019).

After the murderess Katherine White (Martine Beswick; Trancers II, Critters 4) is put to death, a journalist (Susan Tyrrell; Wizards, Digital Man) investigating her origins interviews Katherine’s uncle Julian White (Vincent Price; Theater of Blood, Scream and Scream Again). In this wraparound story, Julian explains that this small town in Tennessee has quite the history of murderers, and he educates the journalist on four such stories—each occurring further back in time.

In the first story we meet the awkward Stanley (Clu Gulager; Piranha 3D, The Willies, NOES 2: Freddy’s Revenge, The Initiation, Feast I-III, The Hidden), who is completely enamored with his lovely boss and has a curious co-dependence with his sister. When he finally gets his boss out on a date, things take a violent turn resulting in her death. But even in death, Stanley remains infatuated—and the consequences for his actions endure full-term.

We wind back the block for the second story as a 1950s man (Terry Kiser; Friday the 13th part VII, Weekend at Bernie’s) on the run stumbles across a voodoo practitioner and demands to learn his secrets. But in doing so, he finds a fate worse than death.

The third story takes us back yet further in time to a traveling carnival of the 1930s, when a local woman falls for a glass-eating carnival performer. The problem is the very jealous and voodoo-doll-savvy carnival owner (Rosalind Cash; Death Spa, Tales from the Hood, The Omega Man) doesn’t approve of this romance. The death scene is gloriously bloody with some of the best special effects of the movie.

The fourth story goes all the way back to the Civil War when some kids capture soldiers, mutilate them, and execute them in the name of their macabre magistrate (made from dead parents). This might have been the most satisfyingly gruesome of the segments.

Director Jeff Burr (Leatherface: TCM III, Puppet Master 4-5, Pumpkinhead II) landed in middle-of-the-road but still entertaining territory. There’s some macabre nudity (aka zombie boobs), necrophilia, the zombie baby is pretty awesome (even if awesomely dumb), mystical carnies, and playing with voodoo dolls. So yeah, for its low budget, the movie relies on its zaniness a bit… but that worked for me.

Was this awesome? No, far from it. I’d call it passable 80s fare due to its diversity of effects shenanigans even if the execution was of low production value. But more than anything, what I appreciated in this anthology was that its stories all had a theme reinforced by the wraparound: the long and curiously murderous history of a small town.

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