THE NIGHTMOVIE REVIEW
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The Silver Scream
E.C. McMULLEN Jr.,
GEORGE A. ROMERO,
and many more.
E.C. McMullen Jr.
Head Production Designer
JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
Special Effects Make-Up
A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
Running through a harsh storm storm near the shore in his underwear, as only a Nordic person can, we see a determined man (Max Von Sydow: THE EXORCIST, FLASH GORDON, MINORITY REPORT), make his way toward a house.
Inside the house, two siblings, Emmie and Ester, are arguing over property. They mention a third sibling, Salem, who was taken away.
The determined man, who we will come to know as the missing Salem, breaks into the house, he listens to the argument.
Sister Emmie Jenks (Hanne Bork) doesn't want to sell the farm and extols the virtues of Salem when he ran the farm. True he was a drunk, but by Odin he knew how to run a farm!
Brother-in-law Anton (Per Oscarsson: VAX DOCKAN, ENDLESS NIGHT, DREAM CITY, TERROR OF FRANKENSTEIN, OUTRAGE , THE SLEEP OF DEATH, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE), the doctor, is unmoved by Emmie's disrespect for him. There is no money to be made in the boonies, he's a doctor not a farmer, and he wants to move to the city where he can finally have a career. He wants to sell his part of the farm.
His wife, Ester (Liv Ullmann: PERSONA, VARGTIMMEN, THE SERPENT'S EGG) agrees, as she shares her husband's share.
Salem quietly makes his way to Anton's room, opens his medical bag, and steals a few items. Then he puts a handful of ties in there and closes it.
Still in his underwear, Salem quietly leaves the house, runs across more forbidding cold land, and breaks into a second house. There he murders someone who knows and trusts him.
Within minutes we see what is going on. Salem is committing murders and framing his brother Anton for them. Salem first murders the people who love and trust him.
But that's the least of the issues. For one thing, while Anton is convinced that Salem has somehow escaped his prison for the criminally insane and is attempting to frame him for murder, Salem is kept in what everyone is sure is an inescapable prison. The Inspector (Trevor Howard: GREEN FOR DANGER, WHO?, CRAZE, THE UNHOLY) interviews the hospital chief, Dr. Kemp (Andrew Keir: DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS, DALEKS' INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D., QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB, THE ARIES COMPUTER, ABSOLUTION, HAUNTERS OF THE DEEP) and finally Salem himself.
Here is where Salem puts his plan into action to fully frame his brother.
So we know that Salem is getting out - it's right there in the poster, the trailer, and the opening scene to the movies. We have a pretty good idea why he is doing it, but the engine of this story is how does Salem break out, and then break back into, an inescapable prison? And how can the Inspector catch him at it? Or will he be tricked by Salem's machinations?
This at first seems rather mild, but writer Guy Elmes, working off the story by Samuel Roeca, kept this tale short and sharp (106 minutes including credits). Director Laslo Benedek, using little dialog and lots of action, visually reveals the madness of Salem's plot, how he does it, and his harrowing villainy that could easily kill him at any moment.
Salem may be a genius, but his madness puts him at risks that could end his adventures at any moment. Yet until they do, his murder streak continues unabated until the Inspector is forced to think like a madman to understand it all.
For the audience, we get to witness the unfolding of a hideous catastrophe we can do nothing to stop, and that's the edge-of-your-seat thrill that drives THE NIGHT VISITOR.
4 Shriek Girls.
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