Thursday, October 15, 2009

HORROR EPICS: Scream and Scream Again (1969)

Scream and Scream Again would pique any scary movie buff’s interest because it’s the first (and I think only) time the three legends of 1960s horror—Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, and Christopher Lee—all star in the same movie together. However, the reason they’re given top billing is because you probably wouldn’t have bothered with this movie otherwise. The screen time these three occupy takes up about ten minutes combined. In fact, Peter Cushing’s character is killed approximately four minutes after being introduced. Obviously, this is not what anyone wanted to see. One could hope that a good story would make up for a marketing scam, but we’re not that lucky. First, we have the murder mystery: female attendees of a local Swinging London club are strangled and drained of their blood by some roving psychopath. It would be fine if they’d just stuck to that story, but they had to throw in some subplots to confuse us instead. There is the quasi-Nazi subplot, in which a secret military group obsesses over creating a new master race. They shoot a few people, torture others, and kill people with the Vulcan Death Grip. Subplot number three is the most amusing to me. A jogger collapses from chest pains and wakes up in a hospital room. To his horror, he realizes that one of his legs has been amputated. He screams. Upon subsequent visits to this poor sap, we discover a new limb missing until there aren’t any left. He screams (and screams again! Clever!) and the film cuts to the next scene each time. No common thread is established between these three plot lines until the end, well past the point when any of us still cared about trying to make sense of it all. I suppose the bright side is that this movie never really has a chance to drag or become outright boring. But it never builds on the tension created. The story (well, stories) just sits there, then kinda…ends. And they wonder why Vincent Price didn’t understand the script when he read it. Whatever saving grace this movie has comes in the performances by the lesser-known actors, particularly Alfred Marks as Police Superintendent Bellaver and Marshall Jones as the quasi-Nazi who pinches people into a cerebral hemorrhage. But their talent isn’t enough to carry Scream and Scream Again to the kind of territory that would compel us to recommend it.

Note that Peter Cushing isn’t even properly advertised in the trailer.
What the hell?

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