Main cast: Peter Cushing (Martin Blueck), Brian Cox (Chuck), Elaine Donnelly (Annie), Anthony Carrick (Aldridge), and Robin Browne (Police Officer)
Director: Alan Gibson
Ooh, Brian Cox was such a dish back in those days. Dressed up as a stereotypical working class Brit with his shirt buttons mostly undone, this guy may not be the sort to grace magazine covers but there is a magnetic kind of masculine vibe about him that makes me go, “Woof!” In The Silent Scream, he plays Chuck, who was recently released from prison. As he tells his wife Annie, he met this fellow, Martin Blueck, while he was in prison (Martin is an odd fellow who visits the prison and chats up the inmates) and that man left him some cash to start life anew. Hence, he visits that man in town to thank him personally.
Martin owns a pet store, but it is what he has in the back of the store has leaves Chuck agog. The man keeps a menagerie of animals from panthers to kangaroos, all trained to remain silent and to follow signals such as sounds to move and to eat. Martin explains that it is his experiment, to train animals so that one day, people can safely set up zoos with no cages. Because he has to leave the country for a while, he offers Martin a job: to feed his pets while he is away, with a generous pay and a reference to boot once he’s back.
It’s not long before Martin gets the itch to steal again, especially when there is this big safe placed out there in the open. Against Annie’s wishes, he tries to crack open the safe and… oops! A trapdoor opens under him, and he falls into one of the empty cells in Martin’s menagerie. What do you know, it is all a trap, and Martin now has a new “pet” to train. Meanwhile, Annie begins to wonder where her husband has gone missing. Can she locate and rescue Chuck in time?
Annie is an interesting female character: she’s certainly the most proactive one to date, often demonstrating how she is the smarter one between her and Chuck. She’s neither a saintly victim nor a whore-type, but rather, a more well-rounded character that at the same time her own person rather than an extension of her husband’s character. Hence, a welcome kind of anomaly that hadn’t been seen in this episode. Brian Cox is hot. Okay, he often overacts to a comedic, campy degree that is probably unintentional, but ooh, he is so pretty to look at. Peter Cushing is as usual fantastic, slipping easily into role as this well-mannered, polite old man that can easily turn on the menacing vibes without breaking a sweat.
What really elevates this episode from simply fun to one with a chilling effect is the way everything plays out in the last ten minutes or so. Sure, the entire premise requires a considerable suspension of disbelief, but it does bring an interesting premise that, if works, can either be a means for greater good or a new form of tyranny. It certainly can be done, but heaven helps anyone who ends up at the receiving end, as poor Chuck and Annie will demonstrate.
All in all, The Silent Scream is easily one of the best episodes of this series. Did I mention how hot Brian Cox is in this episode?