Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dead Silence (1989)

Directed by:
Hugh Gallagher

Here's the exact type of cheap-o video I absolutely love reviewing here: Hardly anyone has ever seen this sucker! The film was available through mail order only back in the day, has never been released to DVD and, as of this writing, is not even listed on IMDb. I cannot locate any poster artwork or a VHS sleeve for it... granted there even was any poster artwork or a VHS box... and there is nary a review anywhere online for it. Written, produced and directed by Draculina magazine publisher Hugh Gallagher, this extremely obscure shot-on-video cheapie was made prior to Gallagher's straight-to-VHS "erotic gore" trilogy, which kicked off with 1990's low-budget-gore-and-nudity soaked GORGASM. The opening sequence of Dead Silence takes place in a prison. Since this film has a budget that didn't extend far beyond purchasing blank VHS tapes to load into the camcorder, the "prison" is basically just a white room probably located in some office building. There, an obese judge (Flint Mitchell) shows devil-worshipping serial killer and death row prisoner Sam Mason (Brad Foltz) compassion by informing him "See you in hell" as he's strapped to an electric chair. The prisoner seethes back, "You can count on it!" before receiving a lethal dosage of electricity.

Not long after, our bleached-and-feathered heroine Terri (Cindy Weichbrodt) is busy typing away on a computer, possibly working on this film's credits, which were taped directly off a computer screen. The executed man sneaks into her home and attacks her roommate. Being the wonderful roomie she is, she hides in her closet and watches the psycho tazer her friend unconscious, fill a bottle with her blood and then stab her to death. Oh wait, that's all just a nightmare! Whew. The psycho then pops up from behind her chair and slashes her throat. Oh wait, it's just a nightmare-inside-of-a-nightmare. Fooled again! Terri is the reporter whose investigation helped put psycho Sam behind bars. Her boss Neil (Ron Scroggins) wants a follow-up story and watching a TV program called "Super Natural" gives her an idea. How about she go to Sam's grave, put a tape recorder on it and try to record audio of Sam's restless spirit? Sure, why not. Terri goes to the cemetery, sets up the recorder on the grave and the decides to take a nap in her car.

Grave-digger Martin (Kevin Patterson), who's apparently been living in his car, stumbles upon the recorder, plays the tape and then manages to get himself possessed by Sam's spirit. He then spends the rest of the movie chasing Terri through the woods, first in his car and then by foot. A young couple tryin' to get lucky get unlucky as the possessed psycho runs into them and the boss goes to see a carnival psychic (played by the director's wife, Paula Gallagher), who talks about how Sam may have completed a Satanic ritual sacrifice of 13 people before dying, which would give his spirit immortality.

Probably around 99.5 percent of the movie going public is going to find nearly everything about this one to be pathetic and laughable. And if one doesn't have an affinity for unintentional laughs, most are going to be downright bored. I've seen a lot of bad acting in my day, but this movie may contain the absolute worst and most wooden "acting" I've ever come across in one of these things. To the film and director's credit, there IS a genuine attempt to build up excitement. They get to wreck a car and a motorcycle and there are even some minor stunts here (performed by Patterson). There's also a fair amount of blood; including neck slashings, a hand getting ripped off and a decapitation. That said, these scenes are usually staged and photographed so ineptly that they're rendered completely ineffectual. I couldn't really tell just what in the hell happened to our heroine at the end, either.

Some people seek out movies simply because they're obscure. Dead Silence is for those people and no one else. The running time is just 62 minutes.


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