Hey, does anybody out there remember Nancy Drew? I’m not talking about the recent kiddie flick starring Julia Roberts’ cousin (or whatever she is), no I’m talking about the classic tv show where the young teenage girl would go and solve crimes, mostly from smugglers. Or was that the Hardy Boys? Whatever, the point is, I remember seeing some of these episodes when I was a kid in syndication. They were very interesting, but looking back they’re typical of what one would call a ‘TV movie look’. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, since I happen to enjoy a lot of TV movies from the 70s and 80’s, like Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, Trilogy Of Terror, Salem’s Lot, Dark Night Of The Scarecrow, the Incredible Hulk films. These are all great movies and there are many more, but you know that when I talk about them, there is a formula, special kind of filmmaking cues that let you know exactly that you’re in TV land. But what if somebody made a TV movie, with the same direction and bland music, and added in a healthy does of sex and violence from sexploitation movies? You’d get Scream For Help.
Rachael Kelly plays Christie Cromwell, our Nancy Drew, a young teenage girl who has your typical teenage problems: grades, being in love with your best friend’s boyfriend, wanting to have a car. Oh, and she suspects that her stepfather is trying to kill her mother. So, with her talents of detection, she starts to investigate until she proves that not only was she right, but her stepfather (played by David Allen Brooks) has two accomplices in the form of two-bit hoods, a greasy-looking mechanic and her slutty but attractive sister (or is she?) who would blackmail their own mother for some money. When Nancy, I mean Christie finds out, the three return one night and play some home invasion with Christie and her mother, and it’s up to Christie’s skills as an amateur sleuth to save them from the trio of killers.
Like I said, it’s like watching a TV movie. We have a lot of the trappings, like a lot of car chases, long scenes of investigating, very simple lighting, nothing fancy. This is not a bad thing: in fact, the lack of style helps the story become a lot more realistic. And when the exploitative elements do show up, they come in violent out-bursts, so they really shock you. A girl gets run over, the home invasion is very violent, stabbings, explicit sex sequences. They really clash with the rest of the movie, but I mean it in a positive way. You should really check out this almost-forgotten piece of exploitation, it’s a really original and singular film, and it’s very different from the rest of the pack. Very recommended.