Mass murderer Katherine White (Martine Beswick) is being put to death by lethal injection tonight, and after the deed is done Beth Chandler (Susan Tyrrell), one of the reporters who had been following the killer's story, goes to the library home of her uncle, Julian White (Vincent Price) to interview him. Julian is not best pleased to see her, but after a bit of persuading settles down to regale her with four tales of how he believes that it is the small town of Oldfield where they are that is the source of the evil - and those tales are convincing...
Director Jeff Burr was in his early twenties when he came up with The Offspring, otherwise known as From a Whisper to a Scream, and in some ways it shows, as this is a young man's horror film, taking chances with the nastiness that more experienced filmmakers might have dismissed. Essentially an anthology, none of the stories are groundbreaking, and the low budget does show, but Burr, scripting with C. Courtney Joyner and Darin Scott, did rope in some impressive names, Price in particular, to essay his chills.
The first story Julian tells has a Coke-bottle lensed spectacles-wearing Clu Gulager as Stanley, a repressed middle-aged man who lives with his sister and has to humiliatingly bathe her in ice water each night to help with her rheumatic fever. He is in love with a co-worker and in an unlikely turn of events she agrees to go out with him, but when she rejects his advances on the way home Stanley turns murderous, not that he lets that get in the way of his romantic endeavours - to his cost. This sets out the stall, characters getting their comeuppance in a crude but memorable manner.
Next, going back to the fifties small time crook Jesse (Terry Kiser) escapes some gangsters who shoot him in the chest and leave him for dead. This is probably the most atmospheric of the quartet, when swamp dweller Felder (Harry Caesar) rescues him and takes him back to his shack, where it transpires that Felder has the secret of eternal life, something Jesse determines to seize for himself - to his, er, cost. Thirdly, to the thirties and a carnival-set romance that goes wrong when the resident glass eater tries to flee the clutches of his boss (Rosalind Cash). This one bucks the trend as the victim doesn't deserve their fate, but is probably the least interesting.
Finally, we travel to the end of the American Civil War where a group of four Union soldiers, led by Cameron Mitchell, have been separated from their platoon. They continue to kill those they come across even when they find out the war is over, and then they are captured by the descendants of the town of Oldfield who at this point are still children, orphaned by the conflict and mentally twisted by their experiences, as the soldiers find out - to their, er, well you get the idea. The special effects aren't too bad, although a zombie baby is more likely to prompt laughter than fear, and a single-mindedness to the mayhem is to the production's benefit. A little more imagination wouldn't have gone amiss as the twists are largely redundant, but this wasn't bad for a first attempt. Music by Jim Manzie.