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Death Screams (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review


A forgotten slasher film has been given new life on blu-ray from the fine folks over at Arrow Video and we let you know if it's worth picking up.

Studio: Arrow Video
Release Date: May 14th, 1982 (theatrical)
                            September 14th, 2021 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 1 hour 28 minutes 38 seconds
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio)
Sound: English LPCM 1.0
Subtitles: English SDH 
Slipcover: Yes (2 Different Slipcovers, One Exclusive to DiabolikDVD, Grindhouse Video, and Zavvi)
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Susan KigerMartin TuckerWilliam T. HicksJennifer ChaseJody KayJohn KohlerAndria Savio, and 
Curt Rector
Written by Paul C. Elliott
Directed by David Nelson
Rating: R


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Poster

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What's It About?

Late one night, a young couple are brutally murdered at a make-out spot by an unseen assailant, their bodies tossed into the nearby river. As the lifeless lovers drift slowly downstream, the residents of the town excitedly prepare themselves for their annual carnival, unaware that a machete-wielding maniac with a twisted grudge is lurking in their midst. When a group of teen revellers plan a late-night after party down in the local cemetery, they unwittingly set the stage for a bloodbath. (taken from Arrow website)
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Film Review

This is my first time watching DEATH SCREAMS and I have to say that I liked it a lot. I thought we were in for a bad time as the film opened. The opening scene is shot so poorly that I had to watch it three times to make sure that I saw everything. The opening scene is a very typical opening for a slasher film. Two people having sex on a motorcycle in the middle of the woods by some train tracks. We have seen this a thousand times. What makes it bad is that it is shot in close-ups so we don't really get a sense of the surroundings. We see some trees and the motorcycle and the two people. That's it. Then, all of a sudden, the two people have had their throats slit or a rope was strung around them. It's hard to tell. Then we see a shot on the train coming towards the camera. That's the scene. We don't even know that there is a killer around.

Thankfully, the rest of the film is shot well with likable characters. The main part of the film is the town and the people who live there. We get to know our characters and we like them. They aren't the assholes that get associated with slasher films. These are normal people doing normal things. They joke around with each other and whatnot. We want to see them survive, but we also know that some of them have to die. 

The killer doesn't really have a presence in the film until the end of the film. There is the death scene at the beginning and then there is one death in the middle of the film, but then there is nothing until the end, but man, when they run into the house in the middle of woods during a rainstorm, that is when shit gets real. There is very little blood until the end, but they saved the best til last. All of the kills are gory with heads coming off and blood flowing freely. I do wish that the gore had been more prevalent throughout the film, but it gets the job done when it does show up so it's a minor quibble. One thing that I did like is the couple that gets killed in the opening scene are thrown into a river and they are seen periodically just floating down the river. I thought that was a nice, morbid detail. 

DEATH SCREAMS is a fun, if a little bit slow, slasher film that gives us some nice characters, a good setting, and some very nice kills towards the end of the film. The identity of the killer was a bit odd, but that's ok. The filmmakers were trying something different and I applaud them for that. I really liked this film and will be adding it to my collection upon release.
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Video/Audio

Presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and sourced from an archival 35mm print, this transfer is good overall. Black crush is all over the opening scene, to the point that some things were hard to see. Skin tones look a bit washed out from time to time as do other bright things. Lines and other imperfections also show up every once in a while. Colors look good and detail can be good. Had this come from the original negative, things would have looked a lot better, but this is a good transfer given the circumstances.

Sound comes in the form of a LPCM mono track and it gets the job done. Dialogue is clear most of the time, with it getting lost every once in a while. Other than that, this is a good track.
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Extras/Packaging

Audio Commentaries:

    -Charles Ison and Worth Keeter
    -The Hysteria Continues

All the Fun of the Scare: The Making of Death Screams (32m 53s, HD, 1.78:1) Newly produced making-of documentary featuring interviews with producer Charles Ison, special effects artist Worth Keeter, writer Paul Elliot, actors Hanns Manship and Curt Rector, actor/producer's assistant Sharon Alley and actor/talent wrangler Robert "Billy Bob" Melton
House of Death Alternate VHS Opening Credits (5m 55s, SD, 1.33:1)

TV and Radio Spots:

    -TV Spot 1 (32s, HD, 1.33:1)
    -TV Spot 2 (32s, HD, 1.33:1)
    -TV Spot 3 (32s, HD, 1.33:1)
    -TV Spot 4 (32s, HD, 1.33:1)
    -Radio Spot Reel (3m 47s, HD) 11 spots

Image Galleries:

    -Production Stills (114 images)
    -Behind the Scenes (108 images)
    -Promotional (22 images)
    -TV Spot Behind the Scenes (37 images) Behind the scenes photos from the Hitchcock-inspired TV 
    spot included on this disc as TV Spot 3) which was produced after principal production, when Death 
    Screams was already in theaters.

The special features package here is a really good one. Two very worthwhile commentary tracks start us out. Then we have the usual retrospective making-of that gives us the lowdown about the making of the film. Then we have the alternate title sequence for the film, taken from a VHS source. Four tv spots follow including one that is Hitchcock-inspired and definitely worth watching along with some awesome radio spots. No trailer. Finishing out are four image galleries including one for the Hitchcock-like tv spot. 



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Overall

DEATH SCREAMS is exactly the kind of slasher film that fans really get behind. The characters are likable, the deaths are cool, and the film is just a whole lotta fun. Arrow Video has done a really great job with this blu-ray with good picture and sound along with some really worthwhile extras. This is a blu-ray release that belongs in every slasher fans' collection.
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Extras/Menus

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Film

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