Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Night God Screamed 1971

"SCREAM - So They'll Know Where to Find Your Body !"

  Weird little early 70's horror/thriller (I love weird little 70's movies) with a great title & tag line that has evangelist Jeanne Crane running afoul of a whacked-out hippie religious cult headed by a Manson-like leader. Barely released back in 1971 and obviously made with a very low budget, it was directed by Lee Madden (who had just come off two biker flicks - Hell's Angels '69 & Angels Unchained) while Crane had a career going back to 1943 including State Fair (1945). 
   Opening with hooded figure carrying a large cross moving thru some woods who arrives at a hippie religious baptismal presided over by bearded Manson wanna-be Billy Joe Harlan (Michael Sugich - in a very creepy performance) with the baptism of a woman going purposely a bit too far. This and the weird hooded guy let you know that this isn't your typical hippie "peace & love" commune.

    Fanny Pierce (Jeanne Crane) who along with her evangelist husband Willis (Alex Nicol) runs a soup kitchen in a sketcher part of town. Alex dreams of going big time with his own church and as a means to this end he buys a large wooden cross and rents an assembly hall in the better part of town to hold a revival meeting to pull in some big money. Fanny is getting disillusioned with her husband's plans and even at this early stage starts showing signs of mental instability that later will play into the plot. With their large wooden cross strapped in the back of a pick-up they head off to the revival meeting and while stopping for gas they meet up with Billy Joe and one of his followers. Billy is pretty upset that Willis is collecting money for his preaching as he believes thats a sin (but obviously drowning people at baptisms is not). He tries out the cross with a mock crucifixion (while his buddy makes sexual double entendres to Fanny) and declares it "beautiful" to an oblivious Willis who happily invites him to the meeting. .

   Billy Joe and his followers (along with the creepy hooded guy) show up after the meeting to rob Willis and in a truly disturbing scene they nail him to his large cross while he screams Fanny's name as she cowers frightened in a closet. After a quick 5 minute trial sequence (during which Billy and a couple of his followers are captured tried & convicted) the remaining cult member swear vengeance on Fanny.

    The trail judge offers Fanny a job babysitting his four spoiled twenty-something teenagers for the weekend (hey, if I'm going out of town the first person I'd get to watch my kids is a religious zealot suffering from failing faith & mental problems). Soon after being left alone with the bratty kids (including Dan Spelling & stuntman Gary Morgan) unseen figures began harassing the isolated house, while all the time Fanny's mental state continues to slid down a slippery slope. Then tension starts to escalate as a creepy Halloween mask appears in the yard and it seems to be the evil hippies have come for some revenge. Things end with a couple of twist endings - the first one kinda obvious and the second one being a nice Rod Serling like "gotcha!". Thanks to a wonderful slowly going mad performance by Crane, plus some really nice prowling cinematography by Stevan Larner ( Caddyshack & Badlands) this turned out to be quite a nice little surprise.


  1. Well this one looks whack but interesting, gotta check it out....nice find!!

  2. The crazy "Billy Joe Harlan" the leader of the sect is the best of the film. Constantly threatening and harassing poor Fanny Pierce. I love these movies of the '70s.
    A Salute!