From a Whisper to a Scream (1987) Poster

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Four Morbid Tales, Presented by the Ultimate Master of the Macabre
The magnificent Vincent Price can be seen in several great Horror omnibuses from the 60s ("Tales of Terror", "Twice Told Tales"), and while the Horror-deity's screen-time is sadly limited in "The Offspring", this 80s feature is yet another highly recommendable omnibus starring Price. The popularity of Horror omnibuses/anthologies (more or less) began with the British 1945 classic "Dead of Night" and had its heyday in the 60s with films such as the aforementioned Vincent Price classics or the great Mario Bava's masterpiece "I Tre Volti Della Paura" ("Black Sabbath"/"The Three Faces of Fear", 1963, my choice for the greatest Horror omnibus out there), and 70s. The British Company Amicus even specialized in only doing Horror omnibuses, which resulted in such wonderful flicks as "The House That Dripped Blood" (1970) or "Torture Garden" (1967). A thing most of these anthologies have in common is that the separate tales they tell usually differ in quality, with one or two (depending on how many tales per film are told) usually standing out from the others. This cannot really be said about "From a Whisper to a Scream" as each of the tales is quite creepy and atmospheric and about equally memorable, and the question which is the best lies in the personal taste of the viewer.

The film, which is entirely set in the small town of Oldfield, Tennessee, starts with the execution of a female serial killer (cult siren Martine Beswick). When reporter Beth Chandler (Susan Tyrell), who witnessed the execution, pays a visit to the convict's sinister uncle Julian White (Vincent Price), he tells her that the town of Oldfield has always been evil, which he exemplifies by telling her four macabre stories.

All four stories are macabre, morbid and delightfully creepy. The first one (starring Clu Gulager) is a weird, quite explicit and very creepy tale deals with delicate psycho-sexual topics. The second chapter, a haunting tale about a lowlife crook who stumbles upon the secret of eternal life, is more elaborate and maybe even creepier than the first one. The third tale is about a traveling circus and voodoo, and as everyone who knows anything about Horror knows, circus folks are amongst the creepiest creatures one will ever stumble upon. Rosalind Cash is fantastic as a diabolical voodoo witch. Another creepiest species present in Horror cinema have always been... creepy children, and the fourth and final tale is another proof that kids can be more terrifying than anything. Set in the final days of the Civil War, the fourth story tells the tale of a bunch of brutal and ruthless soldiers, who happen to find an equal in a town full of orphans....

My main complaint about "From a Whisper to a Scream" is the fact that icon Vincent Price, who happens to be my favorite actor of all time, has too little screen-time. He merely serves as a narrator and sadly doesn't appear in any of the stories. Otherwise, the film actually surpassed my expectations. While it isn't the best Horror anthology ever made, the tension and creepiness doesn't stop and each tale macabre and highly entertaining. The film is gory, and its sense of humor is very morbid. Apart from Price, notable cast members include former Bond-girl, cave-babe and 'Sister Hyde' Martine Beswick, as well as Lawrence Tierney.

This was only the second film by director Jeff Burr ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre III"), and for that one must say he did an amazing job. "The Offspring" is a surprisingly good and highly entertaining 80s Horror omnibus, the only disappointment being that Vincent Price has too little screen time. Highly recommended.
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Oldfield: Town of Evil
Vomitron_G26 March 2006
When I say that I somehow overlooked THE OFFSPRING (aka FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM) when it came out during the late 80's, I'm basically summing up this movie's history. It's unrighteously overlooked and forgotten. It's a very satisfying horror-anthology that is slightly more dark and gory than its counterparts released during that period (CAT'S EYE, CREEPSHOW 2,...). The wraparound story has reporter Bess Chandler travelling to the town of Oldfield. She's there to interview the uncle of executed serial killer Katherine White. The uncle, played by horror-icon Vincent Price, lives in this house full of books which contain the history of Oldfield. Through four stories Julian White reveals to Bess the evil that dwells in Oldfield.

The first story had me fearing the worst, because the acting was rather poor. Just when I was about to think this was gonna be a lame story about a guy going nuts and killing some women, there was the act of necrophilia (not shown, though) and the completely unexpected twist in the end. Since this was the least successful story of the four, I was in for a treat. Because every story got better and better. Just for the fun of it I made up a title for every episode (because they actually don't have any in the movie).

"Brother Dearest": Clu Gulager (best known to horror-fans for his role in THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD) plays Stanley Burnside, a timid man who lives with his ill sister. He falls in love with his boss, but it turns out she's not interested. It seems that Stanley doesn't handle rejection well, as the walls of his sanity begin crumbling down.

"Swamp Renewal": This part seemed to be made by a total different director, but it was not. The tone and camera-work was different. It revolves around Jesse Hardwicke, first rate trailer trash, who gets chased into the swamps by two gangsters. Mortally wounded he loses consciousness. An old man takes him under his care. This is more a voodoo-like tale with an anti-greed message. The music was memorable and so was the shock-ending.

"Of Glass And Pins": A very creepy carnival story with the goriest death-scene of them all. Steven Arden is known as the Glass Eater, an act of the carnival's freakshow. Amaryllis, one of the spectators, is desperately in love with him. But all the freaks of this carnival are under the spell of Snake Woman, and she will not tolerate any of her freaks leaving the circus, not even for love's sake.

"Children Of The Civil War": This is basically the gory freaked out version of CHILDREN OF THE CORN, disguised as a period piece. I really liked the way the story unfolded. The creepy kids gave decent performances and the atmosphere was terrific.

The wraparound story itself wasn't anything special, though. But still this is a decent anthology horror movie (despite its rather small budget) with good, solid short stories, all including a nice twist in the end. There's enough blood and (mild) gore to keep every horror-fan amused. When we look at writer/director Jeff Burr's resume, THE OFFSPRING might easily be one of his best genre efforts. It's worth seeking this one out.
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exhilarating exploitation...
Joseph "God" Jordan30 May 2003
Of the many horror films I used to alleviate childhood boredom, this one was indelibly etched into my brain and probably will be forever. A cinematic achievement of unparalleled depravity, this Vincent Price vehicle (filmed in the Autumn of his life) contains incest, rape, child molestation, necrophilia, voodoo, glass-eating, slavery, mutilations, dismemberment, vengeance and allusions to cannibalism. By genre standards, the scripting, filming and performances were, for the most part, excellent and the work contains enough scatology to hold the interest of even the most reluctant horror/exploitation filmgoer. View this work if you would like to see an exaggerated depiction of humanity at it most malignant neatly condensed into four vignettes.
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Very cool.
billybrown4111 April 2002
Warning: Spoilers
No, this has absolutely nothing to do with the band, even though they share the same name and even the same exact logo. I found this to be something special. Even though I had never heard of it and I just saw it at the video store and saw that Terry Kiser was in it.

What we get here is little anthology of nasty tales told from a librarian, about the sinister history of a small Tennessee town. Now, I found the first story (with Clu Galagher) to be just a bit too sick, it's still pretty entertaining and his character plays a loser to such perfection that it's actually funny to watch him. I won't say much in the way of that one, but I will say that involves incest, necrophilia, and some really awful singing of some even worse lyrics.

The second one, I believe was my favorite. Terry Kiser plays a white trash moron by the name of Jesse Hardwicke who is on the run from some nasty creditors. When he is shot by one of the previously mentioned creditors, he manages to crawl his way to a boat where he passes out and drifts through the swamps. He's discovered by a hermit-type who brings him back to health and also gives him the gift of eternal life. Jesse, being an ungrateful IDIOT, has ideas to take the old man's voodoo skills and use it as a way to cash in. When the old man refuses to give in, he tries to kill the old man. Big mistake. That's all I'm going to say about that one. But let me say this, this little tale has the most shocking, disturbing, and disgusting ending of any of the rest. In fact, it tops more endings than any other horror flick I can think of for that matter, on that level. Just see it.

The third story, I really wasn't too crazy about. It has to do with a circus guy who eats glass. It didn't do much for me.

The last in the act is pretty chilling. Set back in the civil war, a few yankees stumble upon a house inhabited by young children whose parents were all killed during the war. What happens here is pretty sick and so shocking that I won't say what happens.

As far as anthologies go, this is one of the best I've seen. It edges out "Creepshow", "Creepshow 2", "Cat's Eye", and "Deadtime Stories". I'm really hoping that it gets a dvd release.
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A surprisingly nasty horror anthology.
BA_Harrison6 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Opening with the execution of a serial murderess—a scene which proves to be rather uncomfortable viewing thanks to its humourless approach and Jeff Burr's unflinching direction—From A Whisper To A Scream is quick to establish its credentials as a nastier than average horror omnibus: this is not a collection of scary stories tempered by dark humour, but rather a genuine attempt to shock and horrify. And more often than not, it succeeds!

Vincent Price plays Julian White, the father of the executed woman, who recounts several macabre tales in an attempt to convince a journalist that his home town of Oldfield is a place of unparallelled evil.

The first story stars Clu Gulager as Stanley Burnside, a seemingly meek man who turns to murder after being spurned by an attractive co-worker. And then to make matters worse, he consummates his love with the poor woman's corpse, which results in the birth of a (laughably unrealistic) demonic child nine months later. Gulager gives a great performance, but the story lacks a suitably memorable ending.

Tale two is a much more successful effort, and sees trailer-trash lowlife Jesse Hardwick (Terry Kiser) mortally wounded by a pair of gun toting gangsters before escaping into the swamps, where he is miraculously nursed back to health by reclusive old-timer Felder Evans (Harry Caesar). When Jesse realises that Felder possesses the answer to prolonging life, he resorts to violence to discover the old man's secret, with terrible consequences. Well paced, with solid direction, excellent use of music, and a truly chilling ending, this is perhaps the best of the four stories.

Next up is a nifty tale of voodoo magic and forbidden love that sees carnival freak Steven (Ron Brooks) paying the ultimate price when he decides to leave the circus to be with his girlfriend, Amaryllis (Didi Lanier). A wonderfully splattery finalé makes this episode unmissable fun for gore-hounds.

The final story also features more than a touch of graphic violence, and stars Cameron Mitchell as a despicable Confederate soldier who meets a very nasty end when he stumbles across a town ruled by a gang of cannibalistic children. A thoroughly depraved piece of nastiness, with a brilliant central performance from Mitchell, this chapter features some of horror cinema's most fearsome kids (The Children of the Corn are nothing compared to these little monsters!).

Like many horror anthologies, From A Whisper To a Scream is a rather uneven affair overall, offering four episodes of varying quality, all connected by the rather unexceptional wraparound story. However, what makes this movie stand out from the crowd are its sterling cast, the solid direction from Burr (who gave us the unfairly maligned TCM sequel Leatherface), and a willingness to explore themes that many might consider taboo: this extremely warped collection of tales deals with such unsavoury topics as necrophilia, incest, child murder, and cannibalism, all of which go to make it perfect viewing for sickos like me!!!

7.5 out of 10, rounded up to 8 for IMDb.
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great little antho-horror
ThrownMuse8 March 2007
A fun multi-story horror narrated by Vincent Price (as a librarian!) to cult icon Susan Tyrrell (as an 80s reporter) featuring four shorts about a cursed town. Small parts by horror icons abound, necrophilia, a killer mutant baby thingamajacque, circus freaks, dismemberment, and a group of kids that make the Children of the Corn look like the Little Rascals. How could you not love this?! This feels like a precursor to the Tales from the Crypt series, but it goes for horror more so than humor. The last segment is the creepiest, but all of them are good in their own right. Anyone who digs on anthology horror should find plenty to like in "The Offspring"/"From a Whisper to a Scream."
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Finally, after all these years.
kclipper22 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
A DVD release of a classic 80's anthology flick, "The Offspring" is finally available! It is going under its original title "From A Whisper to a Scream", which fits into the VHS horror anthology genre along with Creepshow 2 during the glorious year of 1987. The film's introductory sequence of a woman's execution is both dreamlike and creepy, headed in a perfect cameo by the hard-faced Rod Steiger. Then we're escorted into the next series of stories hosted by the great Vincent Price, who is seemingly portraying the uncle of the woman who was executed. Price begins to remark on the long history of violence that takes place in the town of Oldfield, Tenn, and narrates the following tales while an inquiring reporter listens in. The first story is probably the best if not the most shocking. I think any horror fan would agree that this is the one that put Clu Gulager on the map of unique 80's genre actors. He plays an under-confident geek who's fantasy girl wants nothing to do with him. So he goes off the deep end, and the end result of his twisted madness ranks is as one of the great moments in horror anthology history........not to spoil it too much. Two more delicious tales follow about a unscrupulous thief who messes with the wrong voodoo priest, and glass-eating circus performer who's gift is horribly compromised when he falls for the wrong girl. Each story ends with a bloody, gruesome, and mean-spirited surprise, and the cast plays it out so seriously that the audience knows its not for laughs. Its dreadfully moody atmosphere distinguishes this from other 80's anthology hits such as "Creepshow 1 and 2", Tales From the Crypt.....etc. This has excellent performances from Terry Kiser, Rosalind Cash, and Cameron Mitchell. The DVD release, with the exception of the title, is overall pleasing. MGM didn't waste too much time with re-mastering the material which is normal for these obscure favorites, but its the dark grainy texture of this movie that makes it surreal and genuine. It includes the original theatrical trailer which I remember to be creepily effective in its time. If you're lucky enough to own the original VHS version of this flick, then hold on to it tight, but if you've never seen it, and you like 80's horror, the DVD is great find.
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Fits perfectly somewhere between other portmanteau films made in the 1980s and the 1960s anthology classics
ersinkdotcom20 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Some horror fanatics might know "From a Whisper to a Scream" by its other title, "The Offspring." Director Jeff Burr and the screenwriters take the portmanteau formula and inject their own brand of bloodletting and revolting deeds of dementia into it. Their approach takes the art form to a whole other level of graphicness and disgust that couldn't be explored in previous decades.

Beneath the small-town exterior of Oldfield, Tennessee lies a history of shocking violence and terrifying phenomena, as recounted by local historian Julian White (Vincent Price). In the '80s, an office worker (Clu Gulager) nurses a deadly crush. In the '50s, a witch doctor (Harry Caesar) holds the secret to unending life. In the '30s, fighting breaks out in a traveling carnival over forbidden love. Finally, in the 1860s, Union soldiers discover a group of orphaned children with a deadly agenda.

When you see Vincent Price's name attached to "From a Whisper to a Scream," your mind will drift to the classic films he made in the 1960s and 1970s, which were tame by today's horror standards. I assure you that's not the case here. The four tales presented come stuffed full of the gore and gruesomeness we all expect from 1980s genre movies.

"From a Whisper to a Scream" is rated R for violence and gore, adult situations, nudity, profanity, alcohol, drugs, smoking, and frightening and intense sequences. Necrophilia is insinuated which spawns a deformed monster baby in one of the most disturbing segments of the film. No nudity is shown in relation to sex. It was still unnecessary and added nothing to the story or plot.

"From a Whisper to a Scream" fits perfectly somewhere between other portmanteau films made in the 1980s like "Tales from the Darkside" and "Creepshow" and 1960s classics such as "Tales from the Crypt" and "The Vault of Horror." Vincent Price serving as the teller of the sordid stories lends an air of nostalgia which leads the viewer to expect a bit more quality to what might be mistakenly thought of as just another attempt at an anthology collection. However, you'll find yourself glad you made the trip to Oldfield as the ending credits roll.
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Certainly twisted horror/anthology.
HumanoidOfFlesh7 July 2003
"From a Whisper to a Scream" is an excellent horror/anthology which takes place in the small town of Oldfield,Tennessee.Julian White(as always brilliant Vincent Price)relates four hideous stories to the news reporter Bess Chandler(Susan Tyrrell).In the first one for example,a horror veteran Clu Gulager gives an immensely entertaining performance as a mild-mannered,but suitably creepy old bachelor who takes care of his pathetic sister and who also happens to have necrophiliac intentions toward younger women.The last story is truly disturbing-it has a group of Yankee soldiers during the Civil War who run into a group of psychotic Rebel kids,whose parents were all killed in the war and all hell breaks loose!!Despite the emphasis on gore and some pretty vile subject matter,the film is well-made and interesting.Highly recommended.
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