Scream Pretty Peggy – USA, 1973

‘A pretty co-ed’s part-time job leads to a bizarre payoff!’

Scream Pretty Peggy – aka Scream, Pretty Peggy – is a 1973 American made-for-television horror film directed by Gordon Hessler (Scream and Scream Again; Cry of the Banshee; The Oblong Box; et al) from a screenplay by Jimmy Sangster (Fear in the Night; DraculaThe Curse of Frankenstein; et al) and Arthur Hoffe. It stars Bette Davis, Ted Bessell and Sian Barbara Allen.

The film was broadcast as the ABC Movie of the Week on November 24, 1973.

Peggy is a college student and aspiring artist who works as a housekeeper in the mansion of mysterious recluse Mrs. Elliott and her oddball sculptor son Jeffrey.

Peggy becomes suspicious when George Thornton comes to the house looking for his missing daughter, who once worked in the position she now holds, and even more so when she learns Jeffrey’s sister, whom she was led to believe was on an extended European vacation, is “hopelessly insane’ and living in the apartment above the garage.

Undaunted by warnings from her employer, Peggy is determined to befriend Jennifer, a decision that leads to terrifying events…

Reviews:

“If you wanna see an original and fresh TV-movie that delivers something you never seen before, this is not the movie for you – but it’s still highly competent, intelligently written and with a couple of very creepy scenes and an OK twist at the end.” Fred Anderson, Schmollywood Babylon

” …cobbled together from various other stories (most notably Psycho), there are a few sharp flashes thrown into the mix. Those wonderfully chilling moments are a testament to Hessler’s adept direction, and Bob Prince’s unnerving score. Despite the story’s limitations they create a tension that lies thick on the contemporary gothic telethriller.”Amanda Reyes, Are You in the House Alone? A TV Movie Compendium 1964 – 1999 

Buy: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca

“Although more cliché ridden than a thousand hipsters, there are several elements to this 1973 made-for-television movie that raise its ass above the chaff; the killer in a long flowing nightie with disheveled hair is tops for one. The image is not used enough but it’s grand and slasher worthy.” Lance Vaughan, Kindertrauma

Scream Pretty Peggy is a simplistic, enjoyable telehorror with coy slasher overtones. Both Allen and Bessell (from TV’s That Girl) deliver solid performances while screen legend Davis is in fine form as the boozy Mrs. Elliott. With a memorable shock ending, this rare effort is worth seeking out.” The Terror Trap

“Other than the lazy plot twist, and some nitpicky elements here and there, it was a decent film. I was entertained and had fun watching it.” Slack Jaw Punks

“There was no originality in this film, save for Davis showing how she can even brighten the line readings of crappy dialogue. The recipe for this film is like one of Kathy Mitchell’s Dump Cakes. Take — 3/4 cup Psycho 1/4 cup Die! Die! My Darling! 1/4 cup “House of Wax. Bake, edit, and the results are “Scream Pretty Peggy!” The Raving Queen

“Blatantly plagiaristic TV-movie rip-off of Robert Bloch’s Psycho utilizing predictable plot devices.” John Stanley, Creature Features

Just missing the “classic suspense/horror movie” category, this film ends up a camp classic, not quite awful, not great, but worth watching due to the stars.” Michael Karol, The ABC Movie of the Week

Buy: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca

Choice dialogue:

Jeffrey Elliott: “I was trying to portray the ultimate in evil. I don’t think I have succeeded.”

Jeffrey Elliott: “Art’s only obligation is to touch people’s emotions. Whatever emotions.”

Main cast and characters:

  • Bette Davis as Mrs. Elliott – Wicked Stepmother; The Watcher in the Woods; The Dark Secret of Harvest HomeBurnt Offerings; The Nanny; Hush…Hush, Sweet CharlotteWhat Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 
  • Ted Bessell as Jeffrey Elliott – The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (TV series, ‘Thou Still Unravished Bride’)
  • Sian Barbara Allen as Peggy Johns – You’ll Like My Mother
  • Christiane Schmidtmer as Jennifer Elliott
  • Charles Drake as George Thornton – The Screaming WomanIt Came from Outer Space; The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
  • Allan Arbus as Doctor Eugene Saks – Damien: Omen II
  • Jessica Rains as Girl in Office
  • Christiane Schmidtmer as Jennifer Elliot
  • Tovah Feldshuh as Agnes Thornton – AngelicaThe Walking Dead; Silver BulletTerror Out of the Sky; The World of Darkness;

Filming locations:

The Noah Dietrich estate above the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, California, USA
Universal Studios – Universal City, California, USA

Trivia:

The horrific sculptures were the work of Don Chandler who went on to sculpt Bruce the shark for Jaws (1975).

Production designer Joe Alves went on to direct Jaws 3-D in 1983.

Offline reading:

Do You Want It Good or Tuesday? From Hammer Films to Hollywood! A Life in the Movies by Jimmy Sangster, Midnight Marquee Press

Wikipedia | IMDb | Image credits: Slack Jaw Punks

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