I watch bad movies so you don’t have to. Maybe that’s my ticket to retirement (it certainly isn’t working the usual way). In any case, my habit of trying to find something “free” on a network I already pay for often leads to films that keep me awake on a drowsy weekend afternoon, but really don’t offer much else. Sometimes you learn something nevertheless. I recently watched From a Whisper to a Scream. It was free and got more than five stars out of ten, but I didn’t really work for me, even with Vincent Price. A vignette movie, it presents four episodes from Oldfield, Tennessee, making the claim that it’s a place infected with evil. The first involved necrophilia, with consequences. The second—more in a moment—was about eternal life. Lovecraft’s circus comes to town in the third, and the fourth is about the founding of the town during the Civil War. Of course, the framing is a “bonus” mini-story as well.
The second episode, “On the Run,” has a wounded ne’er-do-well, shot by some southern rivals, falling into a swamp boat. He’s rescued by an older African American who lives alone in said swamp. Noticing him practicing hoo-doo (cue The Skeleton Key), the miscreant soon figures his rescuer has found the secret of staying alive forever (which he has). Naturally greedy, the petty criminal “kills” the African American and ransacks his shack for the secret potion that keeps him alive. Being horror, the dead come back and the owner of the shack returns to punish the white man who is trying to steal what he already has. The Black man had given him the potion to bring him back to life.
There’s a bit of a parable quality to this particular story. Each vignette predictably has the evil-doer punished, with the exception of “Lovecraft’s Traveling Amusements,” where the Black woman owns those who work her carnival. And she gets away with it. None of the characters, apart from the Black man in the swamp and the children in “Four Soldiers,” are really sympathetic. Religion does also come in the Civil War segment since, drawing cues from Children of the Corn, the kids have created their own god. So, a diverting film, if not a great (or even a good) one. This was Vincent Price’s last true horror film, making it worth seeing for that reason alone. His role is limited to the framing story which, as we might expect, becomes part of the collection of horrors from Oldfield.