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  Screamtime Gnome Alone
Year: 1984
Director: Michael Armstrong, Stanley A. Long
Stars: Vincent Russo, Michael Gordon, Marie Scinto, Robin Bailey, Ann Lynn, Jonathon Morris, Dione Inman, Bosco Hogan, Ian Saynor, Yvonne Nicholson, Lally Bowers, Dora Bryan, Jean Anderson, David Van Day, Matthew Peters, Philip Bloomfield, Kim Thomson
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: A couple of friends in New York City are seeking something to occupy their time, so when in Times Square they visit a video store, but have no intention of buying anything. Nope, they want to steal something, and so grabbing three video cassette boxes they make a run for it, the owner chasing after them but giving up when he sees his pursuit is futile as they have already gotten away. They arrive at the apartment of another friend, and she is just getting out of the shower, reluctantly joining them for a look at what they have brought, which turn out to be three British horror movies...

The exact origin of the short films which made up this anthology is ostensibly murky, with some telling you they were three unrelated bits which were strung together by the New York linking story (an apparent influence on a later shocker portmanteau, V/H/S), others saying they were supposed to be television episodes of something or other, which seems unlikely though they do resemble briefer instalments in the 1980 series The Hammer House of Horror, or simply that they were all made around the same time and were always intended to be presented in this fashion, which on inspection seems the most probable explanation.

That's not to say short horror subjects were never shown in cinemas, they were, and that may have been the intent behind crafting this trio, but they were all evidently shot in much the same manner, and they had accompanied longer features by the time producer Stanley A. Long had it in mind to string them together. The linking plot, proudly proclaimed during the end credits to have been made on location in New York, featured three not exactly accomplished performances replete with broad "dem, dese and dose" local accents, and the hand of Long was seen by the fact of a few seconds of gratuitous nudity in the first few minutes. The actual segments were a different matter.

They appeared to have been designed by writer Michael Armstrong, author of perhaps the best of the British sex comedies of the seventies, Eskimo Nell, but also more pertinently to this a few horror titles as well, notably the torture fest Mark of the Devil. His yarns here were very much of the tradition of the Amicus chiller anthologies, with two of them concerned with supernatural revenge. First up, Robin Bailey was a Punch and Judy man at a seaside town (where it's always overcast - indeed, they looked unlucky with the weather throughout, what a grey movie) whose stepson (Jonathon Morris, he of sitcom Bread fame, you know, Adrian "My life is 'anging by a thread" Boswell) is causing a nuisance which comes to a head when the Mr Punch puppet springs to life and starts whomping people with a two by four.

Next up was the best part, where a young couple move into a new place but she starts suffering strange visions, building up to a full on night of terror where she sees an enactment of a massacre within the walls - it's not what you think, though, and the twist is quite effective if a little foolish in the way it plays out. Lastly, eighties pop fans would be tickled to see none other than Dollar singer David Van Day as motorbike racer Gav who wants to fund his next machine, so sets about posing as a gardener to two old dears (Dora Bryan and Jean Anderson) to relieve them of their fortune. Van Day, who latterly gained notoriety for such antics as commandeering the good name of Bucks Fizz for his own ends and dumping his girlfriend live on TV, might have some viewers feeling some satisfaction at his fate here, though watching a ghost rip his clothes orf might not be everyone's idea of entertainment. Nor will the killer garden gnome, for that matter. For what it was, Screamtime passed the time, containing just enough oddity to make it worthwhile for addicts of the era.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Stanley A. Long  (1933 - 2012)

Long got his start taking nude photos, branched out into short films, then embarked on a series of features which lasted a good three decades before he moved into a post-production capacity on many titles up until just before his death. It was those sexploitation flicks which made him a millionaire, capturing the public's interest in increasingly racy subject matter, making his career a textbook example of loosening censorship, from nudist colony movies (Take Off Your Clothes and Live) to mondo documentaries (West End Jungle, Primitive London, London in the Raw), to full on softcore such as Groupie Girl, The Wife Swappers, Naughty, On the Game, his highly lucrative Confessions of rip-offs The Adventures of... series, and his finest film Eskimo Nell, rightly cited as the best, or at least the funniest, of the whole genre. He also penned a revealing autobiography.

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