No One Heard the Scream (1973)



The back of Severin's Blu-ray release of No One Heard the Scream (Spanish: Nadie oyó gritar) refers to it as a Spanish giallo, but I feel this is misleading and almost doing it a disservice. Not that I blame the company; it's a hard movie to sum up with a genre label. It certainly starts like a giallo, with our beautiful heroine seeing someone disposing a body and becoming the killer's target, but then it keeps surprising until the very end, going from kidnapping thriller to road movie to something approaching one of those kind of sad romantic dramas about two broken people coming together - I was not expecting to think about As Good As It Gets, but bless this odd little delight of a film, I did.

Not that I'd mind if it was just a standard giallo; it's been a minute since I've watched one and thus I'm due for a fix. I try to space out my viewings of such fare since they tend to run together in my mind, so letting them seep in my brain a little before taking in another seems a good way to keep them straight. But once it became clear that this wasn't going to have a huge body count, I allowed myself to enjoy what it actually was, with the added bonus of knowing I could go find a more traditional one today without overload.

And I shouldn't be surprised, since the film comes from Eloy de la Iglesia, who also directed Cannibal Man (itself recently reissued on Blu-ray from Severin), another film that sounds like one kind of thing on paper but ends up being more interesting/unique than a quickie description would let on. Again, things start off pretty standard here, with Elisa (Carmen Sevilla) seeing Miguel (Vicente Parra, the "Cannibal Man" himself) trying to dump a body in their apartment building, prompting the man to chase her back to her apartment and threaten her. But things swerve pretty quickly; instead of killing her to ensure her silence, he demands she help him dispose the body elsewhere, making her an accomplice that would be in just as much trouble. No, it's not particularly logical, but it's a "good enough" excuse for the two of them to pair off instead of chasing each other for 90 minutes.

No kidnapping/body in the car type scenario is complete without nosy police, and de la Iglesia offers an all timer incarnation of the scene, as they drive past a major bus accident and the cops force them to take a few of the injured to the hospital (it's a small village and they don't have enough ambulances to do it). So they need Miguel to put his suitcase in the trunk instead of the backseat so the injured can sit there, but naturally the trunk is where the body is - it's a terrific little nailbiter, one of those fun ones where you're not sure if you want the cops to find the body or not as we've already started sympathizing with the guy in a way.

See, it turns out his wife was a horrible nag and (by 1970s euro thriller standards, I stress) "had it coming", something Elisa seems to understand if not totally agree with. Partly because she too is seeing how empty her life has become, as she is seemingly... well, not quite a prostitute, but makes her living by occasionally spending weekends with wealthy men. In fact she was supposed to be with one such "lover" at the time she encountered Miguel, but changed her mind and broke off the arrangement with the man, having tired of the lack of passion and genuine concern - she wants a real man! Can it be... this dude who slapped her around a bit and made her help him clean his wife's blood off the elevator? Stranger things have happened in these movies!

Things get a little more tense due to the arrival of one of her younger lovers later, and the end provides a legitimately good twist that will make the movie interesting to see on a second view now that we have a key bit of information about one of our two leads, but the movie is ultimately a two hander about these two lonely/broken people getting their groove back, so to speak. I'm sure it'd fall victim to "Film Twitter" types who have gotten it in their head that filmmakers always defend and support the actions of their main characters, but for those of us who aren't near-sighted morons it's a pretty compelling take on this sort of fare, as your always torn between wanting them to find their peace but also, you know, not get away with seemingly unjustified murder (the fact that we don't actually see it helps).

Apart from noting how lovely the score is (from Fernando García Morcillo, another Cannibal Man returnee; you can listen to the opening credits theme yourself below since I couldn't find a trailer), there's not much else I can say - it's a movie that lives on its performances and how the plot zigs when you expect it to zag, so going on any more would rob you of its pleasures. Again, it may not satisfy you if you want a black gloved killer offing the cast, but if you just want, you know, a GOOD MOVIE, then you should give it a look, especially if you're familiar with Cannibal Man and thus are already accustomed to (and appreciative of) de la Iglesia's seeming disinterest in status quo.

What say you?

P.S. The movie is in Spanish with English subs, but they are specifically *subtitles*, not closed captions, and there are occasional lines in English when she goes to London to see her lover. Just an FYI if you, like me, have to often watch with low volume and count on captions!


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