SCREAM FOR HELP (1984) Caught somewhere between after-school girls-detective special and sleazy exploitation murder caper with lots of sex.

screamforhelp_usposterTheme Song:


“Christine” by John Paul Jones feat. John Anderson.
Soundtrack by John Paul Jones, featuring Jimmy Page and Jon Anderson (Yes). Basically the entire thing sounds like 80s music by musicians long past their period of making any worthwhile contributions to the world.

Interesting Dated References: Did you know John Paul Jones was so proud of his soundtrack he released it as a solo album?

The fact that this album was even released is in and of itself a dated reference to the total disregard the music industry had for people in the mid 80s.

Best Line: “Where are your folks?” “They’re at the Rotary Club dance.”

Social Context: Is desperation a social context? That seems to be the most prevalent context behind this movie.

Make a detective movie for curious teenage girls, then throw in a bunch of sex and rape from some exploitation movie, then give it an R rating, then get John Paul Jones to do the soundtrack.

Summary: I was going to start out with a nice summary of what this movie was about, but it seems the filmmakers decided to wrap it all up for us in the first thirty seconds:

So, now we know what we’re in for. Our girl Christine starts off by hearing a loud noise in the middle of the night. The next day the electrician working in the basement is found dead when Christine returns home from school. Somehow she ties this “accident” to her stepfather who she believes is trying to kill her mother. Alarmed, she goes to her friend’s house to discuss. As luck would have it, she walks in on her friend and some guy rubbing on each other.

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This friend then shows off her giant floppy 80s boobs followed by discussion about the “accident” in a ridiculously nauseating kitchen.

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The next day Christine decides to follow her step-dad as he goes about his business. The ridiculously annoying John Paul Jones soundtrack is in full swing during this pursuit. I’m totally ignoring all the other implausible things like how she manages to keep up with his 1985 Chrysler Laser on her bike. The pursuit eventually ends at some house where Christine sees her step-dad inside with some lady talking about “when they can finally be together.” As she hears this, a creepy guy walks up behind her and startles her, which causes her to run into an empty fish tank propped up on cinder blocks on the sidewalk. Then she runs away, but her step-dad sees her and grits his teeth.

At some point, Christine gets a car in order to stalk her step-dad, but the car brakes goes out, so she returns home to watch her mom and step-dad have sex. Later that same day, she (and her friend) follow her step-dad to the projects and watche him have sex with the woman from the house. After they get caught spying and flee the sex scene, this happens:

Of course the friend is dead. Somehow in there, the step-dad admits to Christine he may have behaved inappropriately with the chick he’s having the affair with. After some incidents at school, Christine and the dead girl’s boyfriend decide to have sex. I think this is officially called grief-sex or pity-sex.

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This sex is interrupted by step-dad who argues with Christie. In the morning, mom falls down the stairs.

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Full on doggie-style sex! And Christine is just sitting there watching it! Then she snaps a Polaroid, which falls into the house. Step-dad gives chase. Christine hides in the house and learns the chick her step-dad was just banging is actually married and trying to blackmail the step-dad. Back at the house, Christine shows her mom the picture and then the step-dad goes ape shit and leaves. He returns with his affair lady and the husband/brother of that chick.

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Look at the sack-of-potatoes pants this girl is wearing. Christine and her mom get locked in the basement and terrorized in general. I should mention during the entire movie the step-dad wears one of those sweater-blazer hybrid things that have elbow pads and belt. I think they were called housecoats.

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It’s not very intimidating. Christie eventually reveals the subplot about the brother/husband/extortion thing to her step-dad. A fight ensues and the brother/husband beats up step-dad. Then he tells his whole plan to everyone about how he will get all the inheritance. Doesn’t he realize the paperwork and all that shit takes months to go through? After another 20 minutes of suspense, Christie kills everyone through various hijinx and the movie ends. Along the way, someone knocked over a picture of Sting in Christie’s bedroom. Terrible Jon Anderson vocal song at the end.

Scream For Help is caught somewhere between after-school girls-detective special and sleazy exploitation murder caper with lots of sex. Since it has elements from both genres, it manages to lose both audiences. Young girls who want to be detectives can’t watch hardcore dog-styled sex and murder, and scummy exploitation buffs don’t want to watch frumpy young girls running around being precocious. Director Michael Winner (Death Wish I-III) is likely responsible for all the smut that transformed this from PG to R. Regardless of who’s at fault, Scream For Help has fallen through the cracks and been almost totally forgotten by everyone except people really into John Paul Jones.

Poster and Box Art: It was 1986. Photographs were the big new thing. Finally affordable large format printing of photos was a reality. On top of that, airbrush colorization was reaching its apex. The result was tons of bad posters with photographs mixed with airbrushing.

Availability: Used VHS and used soundtrack LPs are all over eBay.

6 comments

  • This is one of the best bad movies ever made. It’s hilarious and I don’t know if it was meant to be. I think they were trying to make a serious horror movie, but it ended up being a funny softcore porno instead.

  • also….one more thing…..she takes the polaroid of stepdad having doggy style sex with his mistress….shows it to mom….he says “its not what it looks like”….mom throws him out…and he ADMITS that he hates her and has been trying to kill her….therefore, he did run over the best friend and the electric company guy was electrocuted because of him…..what does mom do…..does she call the police….no….she sits home and pouts saying “he never loved me”…..pathetic….every single character in this movie is a piece of crap…..

  • I love how she drage sthe best friend along….leading to her death…..DOES NOT SHED ONE TEAR….and has sex with the dead girl’s boyfriend….THE VERY NEXT DAY…..classic

  • I have to say that clip of the girl getting hit was well done. Or maybe it wasnt, maybe I was just relieved she stopped talking/acting.

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