Happy Friday the 13th everyone! The next anthology I pulled off the shelf was Jeff Burr's 1987 flick The Offspring aka From A Whisper To A Scream.
On the eve of his daughter's execution, a writer (Vincent Price) tells a reporter (Susan Tyrell) about the evil that resides in his hometown of Oldfield, Tennessee.
It wasn't until recently that I even realized this movie was actually an anthology. I mean, look at the cover. It appears to me more like an It's Alive rip off. “They were born to kill?” Within the context of the movie that makes no sense. I suppose I should be thankful that the thing on the cover actually shows up, if only for like thirty seconds. Even if its appearance was in itself perplexing, I'm never going to poo-poo creature effects.
So the first thing that struck me was – HOLY BALLS there are a lot of people in this movie! Just in the wraparound you have Price, Tyrell – who somehow looks younger than she did five years previous in Night Warning – and a brief appearance by Lawrence Tierney. The gravitas Price brought to every role cannot be understated. I read that he later disavowed the project, but you can't tell from his performance. He always looked like he was having a ball.
|Vincent Price in The Offspring.|
The Offspring's quartet of stories were pretty solid and played out in ascending quality I think. The first story that featured Clu Gulager as an Ed Gein-type character losing his sanity was fine, though a bit joyless. I kind of got the feeling the writer didn't know how to end things either so that's how buddy on the cover worked his way in here. Terry Knox showed up in this segment looking surprisingly slobby. He must have gone all Christian Bale before heading to Hawaii to shoot Tour of Duty shortly after this.
|Clu Gulager in The Offspring.|
The second segment had consummate eighties man Terry Kiser (just before his defining stints in Friday 7 and Weekend At Bernie's) playing a scumbag (go figure) trying to trick a voodoo priest (Harry Caesar) into telling him his secret to eternal life. It doesn't go well for him. Next was about the denizens of a travelling carnival led by Rosalind Cash of which the highlight was a nifty gore gag of someone getting ripped up from the inside out.
Lastly, whenever I see Cameron Mitchell in the credits I know I'm in for a good time. Here he played the leader of a group of Confederate soldiers who, after learning the war is over, come across a very unusual settlement. This mash-up of 2000 Maniacs and Children of the Corn was my favourite of the bunch for sure. Tommy Nowell from Friday 6 & the 80's TV movie Poison Ivy showed up here as well in a pretty bad-ass role.
|Cameron Mitchell in The Offspring.|
I dug that the stories started in present day and worked their way back to the nineteenth century. It's a pretty cool framing device that I don't think was ever attempted before. Coverbox misrepresentation aside, this movie was a fun watch, just for the genre stargazing alone.