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on 10 March 2012
MGM Midnite Movies present a Gordon Hessler/Vincent Price double bill, The Oblong Box (****) a gothic horror started by Michael Reeve, and the contemporary 1960's chiller Scream and Scream Again (**). Based on The Premature Burial, The Oblong Box is a nice little horror in the mould of the Roger Corman films of the early 1960's. Vincent Price is the lord of the manor who has his disfigured, mad brother (Alastair Williamson) locked away from the public's gaze. With the help of Samuel Trench (Peter Arne) the brother is buried alive but returns from the grave to wreak vengeance. Scream and Scream Again is a real curiosity featuring the big three of 1960's horror - Price, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. In truth, they're hardly in it and most of the screen time is taken up with copper Alfred Marks' search for a killer (Michael Gothard). Featuring an appearance by the sixties pop group Amen Corner, the picture on this one isn't great and it's not helped by the many day-for-night shots. About half way through there's an interminable chase in cars and on foot indicating a general lack of ideas and an effort to fill the running time. There's so little coherence that Vincent Price admitted that it didn't make any sense and it doesn't! Buy this for The Oblong Box.
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on 27 April 2017
Dated (of course) but very entertaining. Good to see Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Vincent Price in the same movie. Well worth watching
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on 21 June 2013
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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VINE VOICEon 15 September 2008
Vincent Price and Christopher Lee co-star in this pair of British-made not really golden oldy horrors from 1969.

In Edgar Allan Poe's (oh no it isn't!) The Oblong Box, Vincent's brother has been disfigured by an African curse. Naturally Vincent keeps him in a locked room and when he gets out, boy is he mad! He's so mad he goes on a rampage of swiping peoples' throats with a rubber knife smeared in red paint -sorry, throat slitting, though you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference. His sex drive hasn't disappeared either. And he's so hideous that grown men faint at the sight of him (in the movie, that is. Anyone else would note bad case of acne and barely bother with a second glance.) Oh, and it's set in Victorian times.

Scream and Scream Again (the title, because there is no other apparent explanation, comes from a guy who wakes up in hospital, finds he's a leg missing and screams; wakes up again, second leg gone,screams; wakes up, arm gone, screams; and so on until someone opens a cupboard and there's his head, audience screams -well, I suppose they did in 1969). The plot keeps jumping from the hunt for a rapist/vampire/slasher/killer to a European fascist state (it's set in the then-present day) for various obscure reasons. Vincent Price is a doctor, Christopher Lee (who was a doctor in The Oblong Box) is a senior government official. At least 15 minutes of the running time is spent on a car chase and on-foot pursuit of the rapist/vampire/slasher/killer for no real reason other than to pad out the running time but it passes the time nicely in between plot developments. Everything is tied up by the end, thank goodness as I was getting confused. And all policemen and women smoke a lot.

Art these are not, good they are not, fun, well if you're in the right mood, these are.
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on 3 March 2011
If one of his films can bring mild discomfort, a Gordon Hessler double bill is enough to drive some people to glue.
'Psychotronic' states, with typical perspicacity, that Hessler has no fans and his movies are worth zip.
Fair enough. I don't agree, but have every sympathy. His 'style' divides; he thinks shooting from strange angles makes his movies 'edgy' and 'art.' Occasionally, I'm quite fond of his pyrotechnics. Others are not. Here, his arrangements work quite well on one movie ~ not so well on the other.

'The Oblong Box' is a grim effort: Vincent Price and Christopher Lee are shot from strange angles. No love. Jumbled story: something concerning an African curse and a hideous sadist seeking revenge. The 'Box' is smart: all leather and studs. Film: murky. Not something you'd want to look at after a night at the Rat and Raven.
Better than 'Cry of the Banshee.'

'Scream and Scream Again' is an improvement: Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing are shot from strange angles. No love. Jumbled story: something about brutal vampire murders and a scientifically manufactured super-race. Britain is under unflinching fascist rule (no change there, then..) and Price/Lee/Cushing's combined screen-time is about 2o minutes. Smart road chase with GORGEOUS 6o's Jaguar cars (drool..). Cool.
Better than 'Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park.'

A Gordon Hessler double-header ~ cold sweats notwithstanding ~ better than you might expect.
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on 18 July 2013
This 1970 British horror film was reportedly greatly admired by Fritz Lang. This is worth noting, as hardly anyone else seemed to like it, back in the day. One can see why - it's extremely nasty, nastier in its implications than in its details, and they're gruesome enough; it hardly bothers to explain itself, plot-wise; it seems to move around from one storyline to another, more or less at will, without resolving anything; it gives us nobody we can actively like, and the only person who can draw our sympathy is a man whose identity we never learn, and who exists in the film merely to be the victim of abominable cruelties; and it doesn't even have a central character. What, you say, how can that be true when the three greatest horror stars of that era are all in it? Therein lies the rub; it advertises Messrs. Price, Lee and Cushing as its stars, and they're not. From that angle, the film is a monumental swiz. It's a bit like those terrible Universal horror films of the war years - "House of Frankenstein" or the interchangeable "House Of Dracula" - which piled in all the monsters who'd made the studio fortunes in days gone by, and then kept them apart inside the film itself, so that we had a bit of plot with the Creature and a bit more plot with the Wolf Man and then a bit more plot with the Count, and by the end, we realised we'd been dunned by the advertising, and there was nothing to the actual movie. Here, Price and Lee occupy separate plot-strands which finally come together (well, sort of...) right at the end, when they share one very brief scene together; Cushing has nothing to do with either one, and has only one scene, maybe two or three minutes of screen-time. If you put all the footage involving the three actors together, it would only come to about a quarter of an hour in a film of an hour and a half. Outrageous! Well, yes, but then, the whole film is outrageous. You will likely scratch your head, muttering "What the hell is going on?" in a hurt tone, on several occasions throughout its running time. But it does make a kind of emotional sense, and the deliberate failure of the dialogue to make the plotline ever quite concrete eventually comes to seem a very cunning move on the part of screenwriter Christopher Wicking. The fact that we're never quite sure whether or not Price and Lee are playing actual human beings is very unsettling, and the political undertones of the film - the ghastly Eastern European (or wherever) police state in which Cushing briefly operates is not so very different from the secret Britain of the main action - are very subversive, indeed, very Fritz Langian. The inventor of Dr. Mabuse would appreciate the rampant, runaway paranoia of this shameless film. It's a pity it wasn't directed with something like Fritz Lang's subtlety and stylishness, it's a pity the budget wasn't larger, and one can quite understand how something so unapologetically peculiar (and gory) would alienate a great many thoroughly intelligent people. But it has got something - it stays in your mind, and, in the era of cyber-spying, it still seems rather modern.
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on 3 March 2011
a pervasive aura of evil is summoned up in this well mounted shocker starring the ever watchable vincent price. directed by gordon hessler in 1969 it follows witchfinder general which was directed by michael reeves who should have directed this but committed suicide weeks before production began. much better than cry of the banshee,i would recommend this to any horror fan.hilary dwyer is as beautiful as ever and i wish she had made more of her career but christopher lee is wasted in this film. 8/10
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on 22 July 2009
Managed to track down these classics from my childhood - The Oblong Box is a horror classic in the traditional Hammer / Poe vein. Scream and Scream again is a trashtastic horror flick that packs everything into one movie (will not be to everyones taste, but a must for lovers of traditional, trashy horror.
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on 15 October 2009
The film starts with Sir Julian Markham(Vincent Price), witnessing his brother Edward's terrible disfigurement at the hands of an African witch doctor. The story then carries on in England, with Sir Julian keeping his now mad, horribly scarred brother locked in a room. However, Edward has other ideas and enlists the help of the Markham's crooked lawyer Trench(Peter Arne, wonderfully slimy) to carry out an elaborate plan of escape. Trench gets some medecine that temporarily renders Edward into a catatonic state. However, he is mistakenly buried alive, only to be exhumed by grave robbers, who take him to the house of unscrupulous Doctor Neuhart(Christopher Lee), who shelters him, on the understanding that Edward will keep quiet about where he gets his cavaders from. Edward then sets out on a trail of revenge, to gain vengeance on those who wronged him
This was another teaming up of director Hessler, star Price, cinematographer Coquillion and scriptwriter Wicking. Its probably the most straight laced of the three, the other two being 'Cry Of The Banshee' and 'Scream And Scream Again', both wildly erratic and very entertaining. This one does seem a bit stodgy and leaden footed in comparison, but give it a chance as it does liven up considerably when Edward starts to go about his murderous work, his face hidden under a crimson mask.
Vincent Price is a little lacklustre as Sir Julian, but he was always better playing evil or unhinged characters anyway. Rupert Davies is wasted in a bit part as an artist, but Peter Arne is excellent as the unctious Trench, and Hilary Dwyer and Sally Geeson also provide good support.
It once again looks great, thanks to Coquillion's cinematography, and it provides some atmospheric moments, if it is a little overlong. Well worth investing a few pounds in. 4 out of 5
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on 16 October 2010
I remember "Scream and Scream Again" as being one of the more unpleasant offerings in the "Appointment with Fear" horror slot in the 1970s. Its an American International Picture, so you can expect a bit more gore than was usual for Amicus or Hammer offerings. And as such, it ups the horror ante more than many from that time, which tended toward the Gothic or the camp. It opens memorably enough with a jogger running through a London park and collapsing. He awakes later in hospital to find one of his legs has been amputed. He recurs throughout the film, waking anew to find another limb has been cut off. The bonkers plot basically concerns a cult who appear to be infiltrating society in several different countries by creating, Frankenstein-style, superhuman "composites" from synthetically-enhanced human body parts. An unfortunate side-effect of this process is that some of these individuals become, to say the least, unbalanced. In the UK, one of them, Keith (played by Michael Gothard, one of the villains from the Bond film 'For Your Eyes Only') goes vampiric, picking up young girls in a London night club, then killing them and drinking their blood. This sets the police on his trail, led by a marvellously brusque Alfred Marks, screeching around various Middle England locations in his Jaguar years before Inspector Morse. Another is a senior military man in what seems to be some Eastern European fascist state, who has a tendency to torture dissenters and shows little respect for his superiors either (Peters Sallis and Cushing included). Bizarre and incoherent are two words that could describe it, but it has many memorable and grisly moments, some crisp dialogue and maintains a brisk pace, though it overdoes the car chases a bit. It boasts some well-known British telly faces and was also, I think, the only time that Lee, Price and Cushing filmed together, though to give them star billing is a bit much as they basically deliver cameos. The ending has the sort of unresolved bleakness that echoes alien invasion films such as 'Invasion of the Bodysnatchers', but don't expect a great deal of finesse here: it plays more like an extended version of The Avengers at times and an exploitation flick at others. Fans of 60s nightclub scenes common to British horror films of the period, filled with hip Brit groovers dressed in the sort of frilly shirts more associated in recent years with Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen, won't be disappointed. They might remember too that The Amen Corner led by Andy Fairweather-Lowe performed the title song in one of the night-club scenes. This vanished off the soundtrack on older VCR versions (no doubt a copyright issue) but I'm glad to say its been reinstated on this release. The only extra is the trailer. Worth having in any collection though, in my opinion, if you like 60s/70s British horror.
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