Scream, Pretty Peggy is a made-for-TV, by-the-numbers Psycho-style slasher from 1973. You’ve heard it before: Peggy (Sian Barbara Allen) is a young woman who gets a part-time job, not realizing the job has bloody baggage. In this case, she becomes housekeeper to the reclusive Mrs. Elliott (Bette Davis, getting a paycheck) and Jeffrey Elliott (Ted Bessell), a sculptor whose bloody, demonic artwork would land him on an FBI watchlist if he ever showed it to anyone. The Elliotts live in a gorgeous estate in the Hollywood hills, and Peggy does her work diligently, even as strange happenings start to disturb her.
Namely, the father of her predecessor shows up looking for his missing daughter. Sort of a worrisome sign when you’re all alone taking care of the two weirdos who last saw her.
At about 70 minutes, with an early ’70s budget, Scream, Pretty Peggy has little to offer horror connoisseurs beyond the stunt casting of an aged Davis and some kinda-cool production design in Jeff’s art studio. It’s otherwise a dull, uninvolved affair. Most of the target consumers for Kino Lorber’s new Blu-ray release of Scream, Pretty Peggy were probably born long after the film premiered. Its aesthetic is therefore kitsch. Again, it was already dated and quaint 40 years ago. Thirty years ago. Twenty years ago. The endless span of time and the sheer number of forgotten productions without much to write home about is daunting. Maddening. Imagine tuning in to something like an ABC movie of the week now. A film like Scream, Pretty Peggy is a piece of outdated storytelling but perhaps cool for nostalgia for days in which most of us never lived.
The new Kino Lorber release features a 2K restoration and a new audio commentary by film historian Troy Howarth.