Just Wait Until He Kills You! SCREAM FOR HELP (1984) Review

A sad day is upon us: Michael Winner has passed away at the age of 77. For those who don’t know, Winner was the director of Death Wish 1-3, The Mechanic, The Sentinel, and many others. While there aren’t a huge amount of notable titles in the list of 41 films he’s directed, he must be commended for kicking off the vigilante movie craze with Death Wish and creating one of the greatest bad action movies ever, Death Wish 3. But today, I’m talking about a horror movie he directed. Not The Sentinel; no, I’m referring to something a lot more unknown and ten times trashier.

SCREAM FOR HELP (1984) Review

Christie is a normal 17-year old girl with a problem: she’s confident her stepfather is trying to kill her mother! Multiple accidents occur around their house that could have been very fatal, and she knows it’s not a coincidence. She sets out to expose his maniacal intentions to her mother and the police, but she doesn’t have any evidence and no one believes her! Christie eventually does convince her mother, and she kicks him out of their house. But this bastard isn’t giving up without a fight. With the aid of two of his friends, they lay siege upon the house, planning to kill Christie and her crippled mother and inherit all the money. But there are two things they didn’t count on: Christie and her will to live!

Everything about Scream for Help should be dull. Just look at that dull title. That dull artwork. That dull premise. So why in the hell is this movie so much fun? This was written by Tom Holland of Fright Night and Child’s Play fame, so one might say, "Oh! It’s fun in that goofy way Fright Night was!” Heck no! The reason this is so much fun is because the writing is awful! Tom Holland must have just phoned in the script, because before this he had written a really good and intelligent thriller (Class of 1984) as well as the sequel to Psycho! So what happened, man? Then there’s the outrageously over-bombastic score contributed by Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones who must have interpreted “girl following stepfather’s car on bike” as “intense car chase.”

With all this bad dialogue, the actors must be commended doing the best they could with it. Rachael Kelly does a fine job as Christie, even if it’s hard to take her seriously when she literally will not stop talking about how her stepfather is trying to killer her mother. David Allen Brooks, who also starred in one of the best monster movies of the eighties, The Kindred, does a good job as Paul, the stepfather, and everyone alongside these two were decent as well. In fact, it seems that everyone involved in this movie did a good job save for Tom Holland! Ain’t that a gas? In the movie’s defense, it does create a pretty good amount of suspense during the last twenty minutes when Christie decides to fight back against her attackers, and it all ends with an explosive finale.

Scream for Help actually would be boring if not for the awful dialogue and scenarios. The character of Christie comes off as a bit unlikable in the beginning, just because whenever Paul talks to her at all, she insults him and accuses him of trying to murder them, and this is at the point where she doesn’t even have any solid reason to suspect him! Then, when Christie’s pregnant best friend gets killed, a couple of her classmates begin accusing her for being responsible, and then they say they were just teasing! Christie then mourns her friend’s death by having sex with her friend’s boyfriend! What’s wrong with these people? Another part finds Christie and her new boyfriend (her dead friend’s!) driving fast in a car that’s brakes have been cut and the gas pedal has fallen of, and when they finally stop, the boyfriend blames it all on Christie’s driving! Of course, who can forget the classic scene where Christie shows her mother a picture of Paul doing it doggy style with another woman, to which Paul exclaims, “It’s not what it looks like!” All that and more can be found in the movie; it’s the type of humor that makes you laugh at how unrealistic it, and for the most part, the laughs never quit.

Scream for Help is basically a mix of Halloween, Home Alone, and one of those high school “teen problems” mini-movies. For a good hour it’s nothing but so-bad-it’s-good pleasure, and the last half-hour actually manages to be suspenseful while keeping the hilarity intact. The movie has a very “TV-movie” feel to it, and if not for the language, blood, and surprising amount of nudity, I would say it’s exactly like one. Unfortunately, it’s not on DVD! If you can’t tell, it’s a bit unbelievable that a guy like Tom Holland would write something like this, and I’d be interested to see what he thinks of it now. And hey, maybe Winner altered the dialogue Holland wrote, and if he did, he inadvertently made this movie awesome! Rapid-fire bad dialogue, an unbelievably ostentatious score, acceptable acting, and a decent amount of bloodshed; no matter who you are, this is one movie you need to see.

The Verdict: Scream for Help is a great example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. I was really expecting this to be a dull time, but as it turned out, it’s one of the best unintentional comedies I’ve seen in a while. Recommended.

Score: 8/10

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Reader Comments (1)

You can get it on DVD-r at

July 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGary Bowden

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