SCREAM FOR HELP is the 1984 thriller from director Michael Winner (Death Wish, The Sentinel), written by Tom Holland (Fright Night), that centers around a teenage girl convinced that her stepfather is trying to kill her mother. The film stars Rachael Kelly (As the World Turns), Marie Masters (As the World Turns), David Allen Brooks (Manhunter), and Rocco Sisto (Donnie Brasco).
The film opens with 17-year-old Christie Cromwell (Rachael Kelly) announcing to the audience that she believes her stepdad, Paul Fox (David Allen Brooks) is trying to murder her wealthy mother. The problem is, no one believes her – not her mom, not her friends, and not even the police chief. Determined to prove everyone wrong and to keep her mother safe, Christie follows Paul throughout town where she uncovers a slew of shocking secrets. With their lives on the line, Christie and her mother end up becoming prisoners in their own home at the mercy of the one person they should have been able to trust.
I’m just going to come right out and say it – this movie is bat shit insane and I loved every god damn minute of it. Prior to Scream Factory’s release of it on Blu-ray, I had never even heard of SCREAM FOR HELP, but when I posted about it online, people came in droves to tell me how bizarre and amazing this film was. I can’t thank them enough for being completely accurate on that front because this movie is a hell of a roller-coaster ride that is part thriller/part commentary on the dangers of sex. The star of the film is easily that of Christie Cromwell, a smart, albeit naive, 17-year-old who is desperately trying to prove to everyone and anyone that Paul Fox is a cold-blooded murderer. Intertwined with her armchair detective work, she is also experiencing the passage of womanhood by the virtues of sex, and oh boy is it a doozy.
I have to bring up the themes of sex because this film showcases it in such a bizarre manner that it was hard to focus on anything else. True to the macho entitlement showcased by male figures in the ‘80s (and beyond), this film barely goes 10 minutes without some dude needing to fulfill his sexual desires. Furthermore, the film makes sure to show as much tits and ass as possible to really drive the point home that these men mean business and they will take whatever woman they want. On one end you have Paul Fox, the figurehead of male privilege who OF COURSE is banging another chick. Then there is high-schooler Josh Dealey (played by Corey Parker) who, even though his girlfriend just died, needs to IMMEDIATELY have sex with the next breathing woman he comes in contact with. Of course, that ends up being Christie, who upon having sex, vows to never have it again due to the pain she experienced, regardless of Josh telling her that the next time “they make love” it won’t be so bad.
The whole focus on sex in this film is awkward and uncomfortable, while also hilariously over-exaggerated, to the point where you kind of forget that a murder is going to take place at some point. In a way, SCREAM FOR HELP reminded me of films that I use to watch in Church that tried to put the fear and danger of sex in our little innocent hearts. I should be mad at how Tom Holland portrays women in this movie but it’s so absurd that I honestly could only laugh. Men writing about female emotions is such a shit show that it’s a constant reminder as to why we need more women writers at the helm.
What made this film so enjoyable was the melodramatic acting, most notably from Rachael Kelly’s portrayal of Christie. I think I was a huge fan of Christie as a character because she was just so over-the-top in everything she did even though she was made to be the innocent heroine of the film. As far as villains go, Paul Fox was everything I would have expected from a somewhat high-brow, narcissistic male figure. Though there are were no supernatural aspects to this film, that didn’t deter from the horror’s that people were capable of committing. Whether that be for money, love, or recognition, there is something truly terrifying about a person who is willing to risk it all for selfish gain, even if it means that their life could be in jeopardy as well. As a whole, the chemistry between all the characters, even if it was odd interactions, worked really well and helped in making the story a bit more believable.
Overall, SCREAM FOR HELP is a ridiculous thriller, but one that I have come to really fucking love. Sure, there are some bizarre mixed-messages that this film is pumping out but they are so ludicrous that you can’t help but laugh. I can now understand why this film is considered to be a cult classic and I look forward to showing it to those who haven’t seen it so that they too can help spread the word. If you are looking for an off-the-wall film that will keep you (unintentionally) laughing long after it is over, than definitely head to ShoutFactory.com and pick up SCREAM FOR HELP.
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