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Smells like cheese, looks like ham...it's chicken...,
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This review is from: Scream And Scream Again [DVD] (DVD)
Whilst London's police are baffled by the murderous attacks of an apparently vampiric serial killer (Michael Gothard), in an unnamed Eastern European police state an automaton-like military enforcer (Marshall Jones) eliminates his superiors to ensure his own rise to power through the ranks. Eventually, these two seemingly unrelated storylines come together through their links to a mysterious doctor's creation of a new, synthetic master race...
Bizarre in conception, uneven in execution, and in 2013 the kind of film that only the most die-hard fans of the classic British horror movie would be able to tolerate enough to sit through, 1970's Scream and Scream Again is a weird goulash (or ghoul-ash?) that snags itself a place in the history books by virtue of the fact that it is the only chiller from the period to team up the three horror icons Peter Cushing, Vincent Price, and Christopher Lee; that it is hardly worthy of that honour is another story.
A co-production between Amicus and American International Pictures, the movie certainly looks like it had some money thrown at it, with extensive location photography and some well-paced action sequences that are largely responsible for the better reviews the film generally gets. However, as a relatively simple thriller, it is needlessly obtuse in its storytelling style, a problem that can be laid squarely at the feet of screenwriter Christopher Wicking (To the Devil a Daughter). This is not helped by the fact that the three actors receiving top billing are hardly in the film at all, and when they do appear, their roles amount to very little. Price gets the most to do (probably because he was AIP's marquee star), but even his part as the meddling scientist gives him no more than no more than around fifteen minutes of screen time, and it's the kind of character he could play in his sleep. Lee's small role means precisely nothing until the movie's closing moments, and even though he eventually manages to squeeze a bit of menace out of his shadowy spymaster figure, you have to question exactly what the appeal of this part was to an actor who by the end of the 1960s was supposedly getting increasingly disenchanted with his typecasting as a fixture of weak horror flicks. Cushing comes off worst of all, with a three-minute cameo as a military higher-up marked for execution, and whilst his single scene is effective enough in isolation, it sees him in a part that could have been easily filled by just about any stock supporting performer you could mention.
Conversely, the film's real leads are actually quite well-served by both the direction of Gordon Hessler, and their characters. Jones, an almost completely unknown actor whose most prominent credit appears to have been a recurring role on Crossroads in the late 1970s, is quietly menacing as the vicious envoy of the mysterious state behind the Iron Curtain (notwithstanding the stupid bobble hat he inexplicably wears to his secret meeting with Lee in Trafalgar Square); playing the senior copper heading up the hunt for the `vampire killer', Alfred Marks is a welcome comic presence, whilst the always-creepy Gothard (For Your Eyes Only) is also memorable as the bionic murderer.
Unfortunately, these strong parts do not make a cohesive whole, and overall the movie is a choppy affair with a climax that is in no way good enough to justify the considerable amount of time viewers will have to put in to get to that point (the final couple of minutes feel particularly rushed). Scream and Scream Again is one of the gorier and meaner-spirited films of its period (Gothard's sex-murder attacks are especially nasty), but that doesn't mean it's one of the more notable ones. However, it's nice to see the movie turn up on Region 2 DVD at long last, with David Whitaker's original music and the hideous title song by Amen Corner (heard in one of the nightclub scenes) fully intact (for copyright reasons, it has previously been available on VHS, and shown on UK TV, only with a replacement generic synth score).
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Jun 2013 17:00:09 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Jun 2013 17:05:21 BDT
Kevin 'Bionic' Jones says:
To be fair to Christopher Wicking, he was only following the plot of the novel by Peter Saxon. 'The Disoriented Man' veered off into sci-fi territory ( the 'composite' project was revealed to be the work of aliens ) as I recall! Glad this has had a Region 2 release at long last. Long overdue. It was a few years ahead of its time, anticipating medical horror pictures such as 'Coma'. You are right about Alfred Marks - he steals the movie as the police inspector!
Posted on 25 Jun 2013 18:34:28 BDT
Last edited by the author on 26 Jun 2013 20:07:58 BDT
Hello, Interesting review.I just wanted to say i have it on a 2010 italian disc("Terrore e Terrore") region 2, of course.It has the David Whitaker score,and is in 1:85 format.Extras are a gallery, and an intro, in italian from Luigi Cozzi, from "profondo rosso" in rome.
Posted on 8 Jul 2013 17:26:02 BDT
Last edited by the author on 8 Jul 2013 17:26:52 BDT
Ross Gowland says:
>>>...this is the version that, for copyright reasons, has been shown on UK TV and previously released on VHS, with David Whitaker's original music and the hideous title song by Amen Corner (heard in one of the nightclub scenes) replaced by a generic synth score.<<<
No, it's not. This is the original score and Amen Corner's song is intact.
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jul 2013 10:40:32 BDT
Last edited by the author on 20 Jun 2014 16:10:14 BDT
Matthew Mercy says:
My mistake...sorry about that. ;-)
I was misled by the talk of 'musical edits' on the back of the DVD cover...
Posted on 25 Nov 2013 06:26:31 GMT
I recall this trailer (or rather its American counterpart) scaring the **** out of me as a child (this guy waking up to find his legs gone!) but when I finally saw the movie as a teen (or maybe I was a little older) I recall it had a few scary moments but MADE VIRTUALLY NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. It was nice to see Lee, Cushing, and Price in the same movie but the movie wasn't worthy of them, really.
In reply to an earlier post on 25 Nov 2013 10:04:23 GMT
Matthew Mercy says:
That's the wonder of a Christopher Wicking script for you! ;-)
In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jun 2014 12:44:59 BDT
P. F. Jeffery says:
Telling us that Christopher Wicking also wrote the script for 'To the Devil a Daughter' speaks volumes.
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