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Code Red // PG-13 // June 8, 2021
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted May 25, 2021 | E-mail the Author

The Movie:

There are bad movies, and then there are bad movies. Scream, directed by Byron Quisenberry and released in 1981 (and not to be confused with the popular Wes Craven slasher picture of the same name), is definitely a bad movie. It isn't entertaining. It isn't fun in an ironic way. It isn't so bad it's good. It just sucks.

So let's get into it, shall we?

There is a story here. Sort of. A bunch of people, in the opening scene, are rafting down a beautiful river. It's very pretty and in fifteen-minutes or so, you'll wish you were rafting down a beautiful river instead of watching this movie. Regardless, after this scenic opening our crew of completely forgettable characters winds up hiking their way into what they believe to be a ghost town. After poking around a bit, it's decided that this is an ideal place to set up camp for that night and so they do just that. And then someone gets killed! It happens pretty much entirely off screen, like all of the murders in this movie, so it isn't very tense or scary, but it does happen, and as such, our team of intrepid explorers comes to the brilliant conclusion that maybe this town isn't as empty as it seems.

Not wanting to get murdered, the rest of the disposable and forgettable characters figure it's in their best interest to get the Hell out of town, and so they do. But when they head back to where their rafts were left, they find that someone has trashed them, leaving them with no means of escape. And then Woody Strode shows up (which is, admittedly, pretty great, but it isn't enough to save the film).

If slasher films with no blood, carnage, nudity, sleaze, tension or scares are your thing, then Scream is the movie for you but if entertainment value is something you cherish in your film watching habits, well… there's that whole thing about paint drying being more fun to watch that really and truly does apply to this film. A film that is this monumental a misfire should have been at least fun in the way that low budget B-movies made by people who don't have a lot of experience can be. Personally, I'm very forgiving and frequently genuinely appreciative of the lowest of the low budget genre cinema entries and often find B-movies like this waaaayyyyyyyyyyyy more preferable to big budget blockbusters and mainstream Hollywood fare. But in the interests of writing an accurate review, I've got to say, Scream was an absolute chore for me to get through.

Now, there are a couple of moments in the film weird enough to make you perk up out of the slumber that this film will lull you into, but they are few and far between. The scene with Woody Strode is genuinely interesting and odd enough that you'll wind up paying attention for those scant few minutes that he's allotted, but it just isn't enough. There's some novelty in seeing John Wayne's son, Ethan Wayne, appear in the film (if only to try and spot the resemblance to his iconic father) and in counting the different Dr. Pepper product placement shots but even if you total all of that up, you've got roughly fifteen-minutes of fun to be found in a ninety-minute movie.

It isn't the lack of gore or naked ladies that sinks the film, it isn't even the languid pacing. It's the fact that what happens and how it happens just isn't interesting. The movie is background noise, it never creates any tension, it doesn't offer any interesting characters and it never approaches the levels of weirdness that the best cinematic failures can and do use to flip things around and entertain us. It's the cinematic equivalent of ninety-minutes of poor quality sleep: you don't feel better when it's over, instead you just feel like you've wasted your time.

The Video:

Scream is reissued on Region Free Blu-ray from Kino Lorber and Code Red in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.78.1 taken from a "2k scan of the original negative." With the feature given 20.76GBs of space on the 25GB disc. This is a pretty grubby looking film with heavy grain but the transfer handles it well enough. There's some minor print damage here and there but for the most part the image is pretty clean and colors are well-reproduced. Detail won't knock you off your feet but it isn't bad and overall the transfer is pretty good.

The Audio:

A 24-bit English language DTS-HD options is provided in 2.0 Mono format. There are no alternate language or subtitle options offered on this release. There's minor hiss present throughout the first few minutes of the mix and some occasional sibilance as well but the track is balanced well enough. Dialogue is generally pretty easy to follow and the score sounds fine.

The Extras:

Extras start off with an audio commentary by director Byron Quisenberry and moderator Marc Edward Hueck. This is a genuinely interesting track with Hueck keeping Quisenberry engaged and involved in the talk. They cover what exactly he was going for with this production, how he wound up directing a picture in the first place, what else he's done in and out of the film business, some of the locations used, the film's release history, how he got the different cast members involved in the shoot and more. It may not necessarily make you appreciate the film any more but Quisenberry is an interesting guy, so points for that.

The disc also gives you the option to watch it in Maria's B-Movie Mayhem mode, where the lovely Maria Kanellis hosts an intro to the movie that is amusing enough. She clearly wasn't into it either. A theatrical Trailer rounds out the extras.


To be fair to Code Red, they've done a nice job on the presentation but Scream is a terrible movie not because it's nonsensical or low budget and not because it goes off into some weird places for reasons we'll never understand, but it commits the cardinal sin of cinema: it's boring. Even fans of bottom of the barrel horror pictures will have trouble making it through this one. Skip it.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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