THE "COUGH COUGH" STORY: A college professor (Lauren Holly) and her students discover a monstrous mummified head helpfully hidden away within the walls of their university. Turns out the head belongs to a banshee, whose screams elicit blood from the ears of anyone in near proximity - not to mention a subsequent spate of hallucinations and freak-outs. First discovered by a wealthy wacko (Lance Henriksen), it's left up to the befuddled teacher to discover a way to put a halt to the newly-resurrected banshee's shrill ways before she takes over the world! Okay, I don't reckon she aims to take over the world. She's just really loud and whiny and invades your thoughts at inopportune times. Women...
Lady Gaga is getting weirder every day...
SCREAM OF THE BANSHEE is one of the fruits of Syfy's co-production deal with After Dark Films (the two previously dropped AREA 51 in our laps). And despite a few silly/bad performances and a typically exposition-heavy screenplay, this flick managed to hold my interest longer than I expected it would. Maybe it was the sight of Lauren Holly's blow up doll-esque face attempting to utter teacher-y sentences, or perhaps it was the wait to actually see Lance Henriksen appear as advertised (he's practically absent from the film until the last 20 minutes), but SCREAM OF THE BANSHEE holds a rather firm grasp on one's interest. There are a few decent hallucinatory sequences and at least one gnarly gross-out (eyeballs being torn from their sockets will always be icky) to balance out all the monotonous talking.
ARE YOU SERIOUS?: SCREAM OF THE BANSHEE definitely plays it straight, though it not surprisingly contains a character, one of Holly's students, who mocks the situation initially with awkward one-liners and childish behavior. The actor, Todd Haberkorn, gives it his all but proves comedy is best left for funny people. (I'm sure he's a helluva guy though.)
Never thought you'd say "no thanks" to an HJ from Lauren Holly, did you?
MONSTER 411: The banshee is basically an old hag (the movie refers to her as such several times) in a red riding hood costume. The make-up on the crone is solid, but every so often her "true" form is revealed, which has lots of teeth and a gigantic mouth. Sort of looks like a cross between a Human Fly Trap and Cameron Diaz. That look is a little less effective. In an all-too-brief sequence, she takes the form of a lass with a hot bod, but perhaps it's best that's a short-lived vision. Don't want to test your limits of you Butter Face tolerance, do you?
PAYCHECK ACTING: Lauren Holly, god bless her, tries her best - even if she is the most unlikely brainiac since Tara Reid wore smart-looking glasses in ALONE IN THE DARK... I wish I could say the same about Lance Henriksen; the man wisely spends most of the movie appearing via his video diaries (he's something of a banshee enthusiast), but when he does eventually show up, the actor is a very weary presence. No longer quite the badass you always think of, Henriksen doesn't seem very into the material, even if he's made to overact intensely a handful of times - it's hard to deny that watching him waddle around his mannequin-strewn mansion in a robe while toting a shotgun isn't one of the movie's biggest pleasures. That said, he looks like he'd rather just be sitting on a quiet porch sipping a beer, and you'd be hard-pressed not to want that for him as well. (I'd be happy to join him for that beer. Hell, him and Lauren Holly; let's see where the night takes us...)
Sad but true: Lance has turned into the scary "get off of my lawn!" guy.
HOE DOWN: Holly is still pretty foxy, even if she has quite obviously heard the Scream of the Plastic Surgeon. Seriously, her sweaters must have begged for mercy on a daily basis, huddled together in the wardrobe trailer drawing straws to see who'd get sent away to stretched-out-beyond-recognition hell... There's some other girl in it, too. Don't remember her name/what she looked like.
To offset his awful work, the plastic surgeon at least has an awesome post-op room
WRAP UP: Considering the last few entries in this column have been duds for the most part, SCREAM OF THE BANSHEE provides welcome relief by being a halfway decent watch. The simple pleasures of absurd sights/plot turns in a movie like this are really all that one needs to be entertained. At least one as in need of an actually enjoyable Syfy channel movie as I am.
RATING: 2.5 out of 4
SO BAD IT'S GOOD RATING 3.5 out of 4