Original Air Date: February 6th, 1974
Even with the upcoming release of Dark Night of the Scarecrow the fact still lingers that most of the classic television movies have yet to find a home on DVD (or even on vhs for that matter). Whether they are stuck in copyright hell or the studios just think a DVD release won't generate any revenue, there are still plenty of interesting movies available. I’m always shocked at what I can find on disc in some cheap release. Would I prefer a better transfer, extras and perhaps a little commentary from the actors or filmmakers? Sure, but beggars can’t be choosers, and I support the release of any TV film wholeheartedly.
Cry Panic is pretty great. There’s a little bit of Lynch-esque beats with Francis and the concept of nothing-is-what-it-seems-in-this-small-town. Of course, it never goes to the extremes Lynch does, nor does it possess any kind of nightmarish imagery, but there is definitely a feel to this film, or at least during the first half. The second half is played a bit more straight as the mystery gets ironed out, but is just as enticing as the first.
The actors in Cry Panic are great, giving every bit of dialog a second meaning. Is the postman really trying to abscond with Ryder’s mail or is he just sorting the letters? I love the way it all unfolds in front of Ryder. The pacing is phenomenal. It’s slow, yes, but deliberate and helps make the mystery interesting to us. The bits with the mysterious woman are done in just such a way that it leaves a palpable air of unease afterwards. Cry Panic is a movie that knows its medium and how to pull off small screen thrills without going to grandiose measures. It’s all about the little things here and does not disappoint.