directed by: Tony Lo Bianco
starring: Mike Connors, Anne Archer, Leon Issac Kennedy, Ian Mc Shane
(back of video blurb):
"MIKE CONNORS, star of long running highly successful TV series MANNIX, once again dons his detective garb as Lieutenant Dinardo, a tough New York City cop determined to apprehend the crazed killer behind the mysterious murders of the affluent residents of a Manhattan apartment complex.
On a dark night a young woman hurries to the safety of her apartment, only to be found murdered the next morning. But this is only the first of many bizarre deaths. The only suspect appears to be the building's well-liked yet elusive doorman, until he is also found brutally murdered.
In a desperate race against death, Dinardo and his partner (ANNE ARCHER of WALTZ ACROSS TEXAS and PARADISE ALLEY) closes in on the killer, but time is running out for them as they come face to face with the horror that leaves its victims TOO SCARED TO SCREAM."
"You're a sour faced, down in the mouth, low life motherfucker! ... Excuse the expression."
Doorman Edward gets a bit of lip
Slash with panache?
If there's one thing I can say about TOO SCARED TO SCREAM it's that I've never seen anything quite like it before. Don't get me wrong, this is stalk 'n' slash all the way but, put it like this, it's a penny short of a farthing. The alarm bells were ringing from the off but unfortunately not loud enough to drown out the film's opening theme song… sweet jesus… I thought it was never going to end. Charles Aznavour (that's right, Charles Aznavour!), warbles a monstrous ditty by the name of "I'll be there" over the credits- it's akin to easy-listening tinnitus; truly frightening, but for all the wrong reasons. To make it that bit stranger (as if it needed it) Paul McShane (yes >>that<< Paul McShane (Brit readers might remember him as the genteel TV antique detective)) sits in front of a theatrical mirror applying eye make-up as Aznavour reaches a glass shattering crescendo. … I was too slack-jawed to scream, or even hit the eject button. I knew was in for a bumpy ride and there was precious little I could do about it…
McShane plays Vincent Hardwick, a plummy Shakespeare spouting night doorman at an 'exclusive' New York apartment block. One night he greets one the apartment's residents, Cynthia (Victoria Bass)- a high class hooker who's had the sense to turn down a ménage-à-trois with a slimy business man, Barry (Beeson Carroll). She is in turn greeted by her chortle mimicking caged bird as she enters her early 80's chichi apartment saying to it, "Some watch bird you are. What are you going to do, laugh them to death?"; which then gives rise to the film's worst pun (and believe me there's some stiff competition) as she says to the guffawing feathered one, "You better shut up or I'm going to be arrested for molesting a minor." (groan) … As if to make up for that all of Cynthia's clothes fall off in the first of the film's two gratuitous nudity binges as she steps gingerly into the shower. Puns and getting nekkid are, as any slasher aficionado knows, a big no-no, so it comes as no big surprise that when she goes to rummage in the closet (a clue!) she is stabbed to death by an unseen psycho lurking within who lunges out with a huge butcher's knife…
In the morning Cynthia's brassy big black Mamma of a cleaner (who utters the immortal line, so good it needs repeating, "You're a sour faced, down in the mouth, lowlife motherfucker" to Edward (Chet Doherty), the grumpy Irish day doorman- before adding "Excuse the expression"), well, she discovers Cynthia's bloody body stuffed in the tumble dryer (someone been watching MY BLOODY VALENTINE I wonder?)
Lieutenant Dinardo (Mike Connors) arrives on the scene and quickly sniffs a trail out which points to the chauffeur of the dead woman's last trick. Dinardo tracks down Barry to his apartment only to find him bound, gagged and naked, with his ass peppered with cigarette burns ("Almost makes you want to give these things up", deadpans the cop as he drags nonchalantly on his Lucky Strike.)
Although the chauffeur, who has a cavalcade of pervy convictions to his credit, is the main suspect the police also keep an eye on Vincent, who is acting a little strangely (to put it mildly). He lives at home with his paralysed, mute and wheelchair bound mother (Maureen O'Sullivan- who looks absolutely mortified at being in this slasher trash). The morning after Cynthia's death Vincent celebrates his Mother's birthday by cutting up her birthday cake with the biggest carving knife I've ever seen, and shoveling it messily into her mouth.
Understandably Dinardo is even more suspicious after visiting Vincent and his bug-eyed Mom so sends his leggy sidekick, Kate (Anne Archer) to follow him (dressed unconvincingly as a tramp, complete with, for some reason, a bulbous latex nose). ... Now, before I go on I've got to praise the cheesy charms of Ms. Archer. She may be better known now for her later appearances in big budget studio fare like FATAL ATTRACTION and CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER but here she acts likes Dana Kimmel's goofier older sister. Her keep fit routines have just got to be seen to be believed. Not only does she indulge in some of the funniest disco dancin' aerobics ever set to celluloid (including overly enthusiastic hand jiving), but she also manages to make a jogging and stretching session in a park (complete with head band and leg warmers) look like St.Vitus' Dance. Put away those dancing shoes woman you have no rhythm!
Archer also appears in one of my other favourite scenes in the movie where her and Dinardo track down the fugitive chauffeur to a porno theatre (the film is credited in most places as being from 1985 but was in fact made in 1982, so New York City was pretty much at its height as the capital of sleaze and TOO SCARED TO SCREAM shows it off pretty well- all strutting pimps and throbbing XXX foyers). The suspect legs it, followed by Dinardo, who must have been pretty ancient when he made this and looks it, as he huffs and puffs out of breath in pursuit. Finally they corner him, and the chauffeur retreats down a ladder only to come butt to nose with Archer who gamely shouts, "Freeze or I'll blow your ass away!". It's sheer class I tell you.
The only trouble is that whilst they have him in custody (ass complete) another brutal murder occurs in the apartment block, so all eyes, naturally, turn back to kooky Vincent. Did the night doorman do 'em in? Well, I'm not going to spoil it for you, suffice to say that the ending reaches new depths of crass stupidity (and that, for once, folks isn't meant as a recommendation!).
TOO SCARED TO SCREAM comes across like a slightly demented TV movie but with the added benefits of some surprisingly gratuitous nudity, a fair bit of sleaze, a mountain of cheese and even a little gore thrown in too just to round things off nicely (I really can't imagine this movie still sits on any of the star's CVs though). So there's plenty here to keep you entertained (although the film does drag badly in a couple of places, and, irritatingly, the killer never does don the creepy mask seen on the video cover). It's offbeat enough to be either refreshing or irritating depending on your point of view. Naturally I enjoyed the cheese, which was supplied in abundance, something that's not that surprising considering the film was shot in the early 80's and it was attempting to go for that sophisticated look- and, as everyone knows, sophistication in 1982 consisted of wearing makeup that looked like it had been applied with a blow torch. You'll marvel at the fashion atrocities that accompany a disco fueled catwalk show (which naturally gives us a statuesque model to throw into the melee, resulting in a stomach churning petting session in the Jacuzzi with a lardy, hairy and naked punter that I could have done without). Cheese, yes, but if its chills you're looking for to go with the smorgasbord thrills I'd look elsewhere.
BODYCOUNT 8 female:4 / male:4
1) Female stabbed to death
2) Female stabbed to death and dismembered (off-screen)
3) Male found stabbed to death
4) Female stabbed to death
5) Male body found hanging from back of a door
6) Male found stabbed (dies later)
7) Female body discovered
8) Male shot dead