In 1984, director Michael Winner (Death Wish, The Sentinel) unleashed the very weird Scream for Help. Not nearly as good as those two previous, fantastic films (and several others in his filmography), what Scream for Help does offer is an utterly bizarre window into the strangeness of 1980s filmmaking.
Also written by Tom Holland (Fright Night), Scream for Help follows teenage girl Christie Cromwell who suspects that her stepfather Paul (David Allen Brooks) is attempting to murder her mother for her money. (Mom owns a car dealership, aptly staffed with some mucho mustachioed '80s salesmen which you'll see in one scene, along with some gnarly suits, to boot).
As suave as Paul starts out, he can't trick the plucky girl, who's eager to see him gone (he did cause her parents to split, the jerk). And man, does Christie get annoying (dubious acting and all)! She begins to follow him around on her bike, and discovers that he's a little too cozy with local floozy Brenda (actually named Lolita Lorre) and her brother Lacey (Rocco Sisto), who give off some menacing vibes.
Christie enlists her best friend Janey to come spy on Paul with her, except that Paul catches them at the fleabag motel where he's cheating, and before you know it, a car runs down and kills Janey. Since Christie is our protagonist, she narrowly escapes and goes on to partner up with Josh, Janey's boyfriend who impregnated her right before she died!
Damn kids! Getting knocked up at 17! Not to worry, the 1980s will make sure you're punished with some kind of death. Neither Christie nor Josh mourn Janey for any amount of reasonable time before they're both in bed together, only then Paul catches them, and --- gasp --- Christie's bleeding from you know where, with her stepfather breathing down her throat.
And he's reveals that he's rigged the gas heater in her en suite bathroom to do Christie in --- but not before Christie and Josh almost die in her mom's car --- it's been tampered with, of course, and from then, the game is truly on. Next, mom trips over a bent stair runner, (how she didn't see it is flabbergasting), and instead of dying, she breaks her leg.
Things heat up and in the third act, Scream for Help finally starts to feel like a Michael Winner film. The baddies get badder and there's some double crossing to be had. I won't spoil all the fun, but it's balls-out ridiculousness as Christie becomes pretty much the original Home Alone kid versus the original Stepfather, and it's just so weird.
The spotty acting, overt, over-the-top exposition, and downright strange script combine to make Scream for Help one of the most hilarious films I've ever seen. It's even better that this wasn't the film's original intention, but it's truly so bad, it's good. And the score from John Paul Jones is all over the map, its sometimes great, sometimes completey inappropriate to the scene at hand --- like big band music playing during a meet-up in the suburbs. And during the finale, you'll be treated to a Death Wish stinger or two --- that awesome, growling guitar riff!
Scream for Help looks and sounds great, and this is the first time it's been released to enjoy at home, as far as I understand. Just as funny is the Tom Holland interview in the bonus features, where's in full IDGAF mode, railing against Winner and... I can just imagine Holland at parties. Totally opposite is David Allen Brooks, who played a villian for the first and maybe only time in Scream for Help.
Want to treat your weirdest friends to an even weirder night? Read more, watch the odd trailer, and order more over at Scream Factory's site here.