Death Screams appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was an erratic but acceptable image.
Sharpness seemed blah. While the movie gave us adequate delineation, it lacked particularly good accuracy.
No issues with jaggies or shimmering materialized, and I saw no signs of edge haloes. Grain felt natural, and only a handful of blemishes marred the proceedings, though some vertical lines and scratches became a distraction in the third act. It seemed weird that the finale suffered from so many more flaws than the rest of the flick.
In terms of colors, the film opted for a natural palette. Unfortunately, the tones tended to seem somewhat dull and flat. At times the hues fared better, but they lacked much vivacity.
Blacks were a little muddy, while shadows seemed somewhat thick. I suspect that the Blu-ray reproduced the source fairly accurately, but this still ended up as a somewhat unattractive presentation.
As for the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack, it also seemed bland. Speech came across as intelligible but stiff and a little muted.
Effects lacked much distortion but they also failed to display a lot of range and seemed bland. Music completed the trifecta, as the score and songs suffered from limited dimensionality. Even given the movie’s age and budget, the audio was adequate, but the track still seemed blah.
A mix of extras appear here, and we start with two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from producer Charles Ison and special effects artist Worth Keeler, both of whom sit along with filmmaker/moderator Phil Smoot for a running, screen-specific look at cast and performances, sets and locations, effects, and various production topics.
Though not many of those production topics, as the commentary often feels like little more than a recitation of cast members and shooting locations. A few other tidbits pop up, and I appreciate that Smoot – who never saw the movie until right before he recorded this track – points out some of the flick’s problems. Nonetheless, this ends up as a spotty and not especially informative discussion.
For the second commentary, we hear from The Hysteria Continues, a podcast group. We hear from Justin Kurswell, Erik Threllfall, Joseph Henson and Nathan Johnson. All four chat together for this running, screen-specific look at cast/crew, other horror flicks/influences, sets and locations, and related subjects.
My past experiences with Hysteria commentaries have been mixed. Some have offered lots of good information, whereas others have felt fairly banal.
Unfortunately, their chat for Screams falls more in the latter category than the former. At times they offer some decent notes, and they attempt to explain what they like about the film, but I can’t claim the track brings a lot to the table. I learned a little here but not enough to make this a particularly engaging discussion.
All the Fun of the Scare provides a 32-minute, 53-second documentary. It involves remarks from Ison, Keeter, writer Paul Elliott, actor/PA Sharon Alley, actor/talent wrangler Robert Melton and actors Hanns Manship and Curt Rector.
“Fun” looks at the project’s origins and development, cast and crew, thoughts about director David Nelson, and various production memories. “Fun” doesn’t offer an especially tight look at the flick, but it comes with a decent array of details.
Next we find Altenrate VHS Opening Titles that last five minutes, 55 seconds. The movie sold as House of Death on tape, and this reel reflects that change. That makes them a minor curiosity.
In addition to four TV spots and a radio spot reel with 11 clips, we get Image Galleries. These break into “Production Stills” (114 frames), “Behind the Scenes” (108), “Promotional” (22) and “TV Spot Behind the Scenes” (38).
While most of the TV spots are ordinary, “TV Spot 3” offers unique material with Ison as he offers a Hitchock-esque promo. The “Galleries” also come with some good material.
Given how many slasher movies came out in the 1980s, it seems likely that most deserve to remain forgotten. Death Screams falls into that camp, as it provides an entirely monotonous and inept genre effort. The Blu-ray brings adequate picture and audio along with a reasonable mix of bonus materials. Even the most diehard fan of 1980s horror should avoid this stinker.