Friday, June 1, 2012

TV Review: The Silent Scream (1980)

Peter Cushing poster image
Peter Cushing as Martin Blueck
I watched the classic BBC series with Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes recently and was blown away by his performance. I looked around for more of Cushing and came upon this gem.

Cushing plays an aged pet shop owner, Martin Blueck. He pays a visit to a prison inmate, Chuck Spillers (Brian Cox) and helps him out by providing some financial help. Blueck is a self-proclaimed former concentration camp captive and sees a kindred soul in Chuck. When Chuck is released, he is happily reunited with his wife Annie (Elaine Donnelly). He discusses Blueck’s visit with his wife and pays a courtesy visit to Blueck at his shop and is offered a job.

Blueck has a collection of big cats and other exotic animals in his basement and has trained them so well that the animals are kept in open cages. The cages are powered by electricity and the animals make no attempt to escape whatsoever. Blueck wants to test the concept of open zoos and seeks Chuck’s help in his endeavour.

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As expected, Chuck accepts the job. He happens to notices a safe that is pretty much unattended. Old habits die hard and Chuck is sorely tempted to relieve the safe of its contents. The less than stellar financial well-being of his family does not help matters either. The very next day, Chuck attempts to break the safe and literally falls into a trap. His trap is similar to the cages that house the animals.

Brian Cox as Chuck Spillers in The Silent Scream (1980)
Brian Cox as Chuck Spillers

Annie enquires with Blueck about her husband and is surprised to be told that her husband did not come to the shop, despite the presence of his jacket. She raises the issue of her missing husband with the police, who thanks to Chuck’s history of crime do not take her claims seriously.

Taking matters into her hands, Annie sneaks into the shop and finds her husband captive. Is she able to save her husband? What are Blueck’s intentions?

Cushing is a terrific actor and is in top form here. His performance is a fitting tribute to his versatility. It is amazing that he can pull off Sherlock Holmes as flawlessly as he does with the character of Blueck.

It is interesting to see Brian Cox in one of his earlier performances and he is good as always. Elaine Donnelly gives an excellent performance as the strong-willed and intelligent Annie.

Elaine Donnelly as Annie Spillers in The Silent Scream (1980)
Elaine Donnelly as Annie Spillers

Hammer Studios are renowned for their horror films and this episode is no exception. It is more of a psychological thriller than a horror film and is superb scripted. I would highly recommend the reader to check this one out.

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Image Source: Aveleyman 

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