College art student Peggy Johns (Sian Barbara Allen, You’ll Like My Mother) goes to work in a mansion as a part-time housekeeper for a reclusive sculptor (Ted Bessell, TV’s That Girl) and his elderly mother (Bette Davis). Peggy immediately realizes that there is something odd about her new employers.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“Leave this house while you still can!”
Cheap Universal TV production is mostly a Psycho (1960) knock-off — Scream, Pretty Peggy shows too many similarities with Hitchcock’s 1960 classic to be a mere coincidence. Having said that, this modest TV chiller is sufficiently entertaining.
Scream, Pretty Peggy was directed by Gordon Hesser, who is known for his B-movies (The Oblong Box, Cry of the Banshee, et cetera, et cetera). Hesser makes a good attempt to create tension, but the gimmicky and derivate script threatens to undermine his valiant efforts — he can’t be faulted for a script that offers zero surprises.
The most interesting aspect of the movie is the reteaming of British writer Jimmy Sangster and actor Bette Davis. Having written The Nanny (1965) and The Anniversary (1968), Sangster collaborated for a third (and last) time with Davis, who plays a small role in the film. Unfortunately, the usually creative Sangster fails to give the legendary actress anything interesting to do. But Davis gives the batty-mama role everything she’s got and comes out of the movie with her dignity fairly intact.
Teens in horror movies can be pretty obnoxious and Sian Barbara Allen’s hyperactive college student isn’t the exception. She’s so annoying — the character, not the actor — that I just wanted to reach into the screen and slap her silly. The young woman is talkative, imprudent and nosy. I simply couldn’t empathize with such irritating character. I can’t really blame actress Allen because this is how the character was written.
Although I suspect it wasn’t the original intent, Ted Bessell’s mercurial artist comes across as a more sympathetic character. The small cast also includes prolific character actor Charles Drake (It Came from Outer Space) as a man looking for his missing daughter. Acclaimed Broadway actress and playwright Tovah Feldshuh (TV’s The Walking Dead) makes her film debut as Drake’s ill-fated daughter.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
There is nothing here you haven’t seen before, but if you remember the “Movie-of-the-Week” era, a movie like Scream, Pretty Peggy will bring back many memories. The negative ingredients are the weak script and low production values. The positive aspects are the fine performances and nostalgic value. Lower your expectations and you won’t be totally disappointed. Color, 74 minutes, Not Rated.