Scream and Scream Again


1h 34m 1970
Scream and Scream Again

Brief Synopsis

A police superintendent investigates a serial killer who drains his victims' blood.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Thriller
Release Date
Jan 1970
Premiere Information
Chicago opening: 11 Feb 1970
Production Company
American International Productions; Amicus Productions
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Disoriented Man by Peter Saxon (London, 1966).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

Police Superintendent Bellaver, investigating the murder and mutilation of two young women and the disappearance of a young athlete, learns from American pathologist David Sorel that the women's bodies had been drained of blood. Helen Bradford, a police decoy, lures the suspected killer into the open, and police handcuff him. He proves to possess superhuman strength, however, and escapes by tearing off his hand and racing to the clinic of Dr. Browning, where he leaps into a vat of acid. Meanwhile, Konratz, a mysterious foreign agent who is systematically eliminating his political enemies, blackmails British agent Fremont into persuading Scotland Yard to halt the investigation of the "vampire killings." Although unauthorized to continue work on the case, Sorel and Helen go to Dr. Browning's mansion and discover a modern operating room. They are caught by Dr. Browning, who reveals that he is creating human bodies by transplanting limbs and organs to form a perfect composite; the missing athlete was used for his strong arms and legs. Konratz, the mastermind behind the scheme, arrives and fights with Browning for allowing the murders to interrupt his political maneuvers. In the ensuing struggle, Konratz throws Browning into the vat, and Fremont arrives in time to save Helen and Sorel by pushing Konratz into the acid along with his victim.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Thriller
Release Date
Jan 1970
Premiere Information
Chicago opening: 11 Feb 1970
Production Company
American International Productions; Amicus Productions
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Disoriented Man by Peter Saxon (London, 1966).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

Scream and Scream Again


A true piece of pure Brit psychotronica, conceived and produced as quickly, breezily and tastelessly as flash-fried fish and chips wrapped in this morning's The Times of London, Scream and Scream Again (1970) is a one of a kind movie--a clumsy shambles or an odd experiment, depending on your point of view. It begs not to be taken seriously, but at the same time it's structured so strangely, so daringly, you sense that the filmmakers were exploiting their low-budget situation and striving toward something new. Perhaps not, it's hard to say given the plotting of Gordon Hessler's movie (deliberately elliptical or inept?); its campy style (post-Swinging London or a satire thereof?) and its head-scratching political pretensions (is the East Berlin-ish Communist country fictionalized for thematic reasons, or because they couldn't afford accurate costumes?). Certainly, the top-billed presences of Christopher Lee, Vincent Price and Peter Cushing--all of whom have supporting or cameo roles--sold this baby as a horror fest, which it really isn't. What is it?

The opening titles barely give it a chance--a protracted sunlit shot of a jogger in humiliatingly tight shorts running right at the camera, his image embarrassingly frozen for every brace of credits, all set to a cheesy jazz score and juxtaposed with the histrionic horror-genre name of the thing in a way that suggests the editing room janitor threw it together after everyone else went home. Cut: now we're in that proto-Red city, manned by Nazi-esque checkpoint soldiers bearing a crazy made-up state insignia of arrows and crosses, where one insidious Russian-ish bureaucrat kills another with a Vulcan nerve pinch, but not before we cut back to the jogger, who wakes up in the hospital with his legs amputated. Soon a girl is killed and raped, and we have no idea how the three abrupt threads relate to each other.

Then we're in a nightclub where, incidentally, the pop group Amen Corner, with guitarist Andy Fairweather Low, is playing, performing a droopy acid-ballad song whose refrain is actually "scream, and scream again"--and we meet Michael Gothard as some kind of sociopathic pervert, who picks up another girl to assault and kill (and drain of blood). Cut back to not-East Berlin: Cushing shows up for one scene as a Communist elite but is almost immediately killed. Why? We're never sure. Then Lee shows up as a Brit spymaster, but it's becoming clear by this point that the film's narrative weave is fragmented and haphazard, and there is no main character unless it's irascible Alfred Marks as the Detective Superintendent investigating the rash of murders. Marks, a reliable Brit comedian who once had his own long-running comedy series, Alfred Marks Time, is not given much to work with, but as an intolerant, exhausted, foul-mouthed cop he rules the film, spitting invective at his underlings ("Don't be so bloody stupid!") as though he's disgusted with himself for being in the film. He does get a few self-conscious riffs, as in a distended bit about a sandwich: "Smells like cheese, looks like ham...," he muses, and then takes a bite. "Oh, no problem: it's chicken." After a distraction, he winces: "That bloody chicken wasn't killed, it died of old age!"

The plotted muddle gains a reprieve at the film's center, for a long and rather efficiently executed chase after Gothard's slavering villain across a wide variety of London-suburb lowlands and backroads. Eventually, the film's splayed strands begin to entwine, absurdly: Gothard is a semi-synthetic vampire-ish lab rat created by Vincent Price's megalomaniac biologist-doctor, the meta-Russkies are dealing with Lee to swap prisoners for evidence of the killings, and every now and then entirely inappropriate jazz-funk swamps the soundtrack. It's almost fitting, retrospectively speaking, that it's based rather closely on a dime novel by Peter Saxon, or rather, "Peter Saxon," not an actual author but a Brit-pulp pseudonym used by almost a dozen different writers in the '60s and '70s on paperback knockoffs for mass sale (the book's title also fits like a glove: The Disoriented Man). There's something seductive and charming about the kind of genre filmmaking that could be perpetrated in the '60s and '70s, targeted at drive-ins and double bills (here, Hessler's film was paired with The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant (1971), arguably the only movie that year with a zingier title), and rapped out with nominal fuss for a shrugging undemanding pubertal audience, for whom the Price-Lee-Cushing trifecta was reason enough to kill a rainy Saturday afternoon at the movie-house.

By Michael Atkinson
Scream And Scream Again

Scream and Scream Again

A true piece of pure Brit psychotronica, conceived and produced as quickly, breezily and tastelessly as flash-fried fish and chips wrapped in this morning's The Times of London, Scream and Scream Again (1970) is a one of a kind movie--a clumsy shambles or an odd experiment, depending on your point of view. It begs not to be taken seriously, but at the same time it's structured so strangely, so daringly, you sense that the filmmakers were exploiting their low-budget situation and striving toward something new. Perhaps not, it's hard to say given the plotting of Gordon Hessler's movie (deliberately elliptical or inept?); its campy style (post-Swinging London or a satire thereof?) and its head-scratching political pretensions (is the East Berlin-ish Communist country fictionalized for thematic reasons, or because they couldn't afford accurate costumes?). Certainly, the top-billed presences of Christopher Lee, Vincent Price and Peter Cushing--all of whom have supporting or cameo roles--sold this baby as a horror fest, which it really isn't. What is it? The opening titles barely give it a chance--a protracted sunlit shot of a jogger in humiliatingly tight shorts running right at the camera, his image embarrassingly frozen for every brace of credits, all set to a cheesy jazz score and juxtaposed with the histrionic horror-genre name of the thing in a way that suggests the editing room janitor threw it together after everyone else went home. Cut: now we're in that proto-Red city, manned by Nazi-esque checkpoint soldiers bearing a crazy made-up state insignia of arrows and crosses, where one insidious Russian-ish bureaucrat kills another with a Vulcan nerve pinch, but not before we cut back to the jogger, who wakes up in the hospital with his legs amputated. Soon a girl is killed and raped, and we have no idea how the three abrupt threads relate to each other. Then we're in a nightclub where, incidentally, the pop group Amen Corner, with guitarist Andy Fairweather Low, is playing, performing a droopy acid-ballad song whose refrain is actually "scream, and scream again"--and we meet Michael Gothard as some kind of sociopathic pervert, who picks up another girl to assault and kill (and drain of blood). Cut back to not-East Berlin: Cushing shows up for one scene as a Communist elite but is almost immediately killed. Why? We're never sure. Then Lee shows up as a Brit spymaster, but it's becoming clear by this point that the film's narrative weave is fragmented and haphazard, and there is no main character unless it's irascible Alfred Marks as the Detective Superintendent investigating the rash of murders. Marks, a reliable Brit comedian who once had his own long-running comedy series, Alfred Marks Time, is not given much to work with, but as an intolerant, exhausted, foul-mouthed cop he rules the film, spitting invective at his underlings ("Don't be so bloody stupid!") as though he's disgusted with himself for being in the film. He does get a few self-conscious riffs, as in a distended bit about a sandwich: "Smells like cheese, looks like ham...," he muses, and then takes a bite. "Oh, no problem: it's chicken." After a distraction, he winces: "That bloody chicken wasn't killed, it died of old age!" The plotted muddle gains a reprieve at the film's center, for a long and rather efficiently executed chase after Gothard's slavering villain across a wide variety of London-suburb lowlands and backroads. Eventually, the film's splayed strands begin to entwine, absurdly: Gothard is a semi-synthetic vampire-ish lab rat created by Vincent Price's megalomaniac biologist-doctor, the meta-Russkies are dealing with Lee to swap prisoners for evidence of the killings, and every now and then entirely inappropriate jazz-funk swamps the soundtrack. It's almost fitting, retrospectively speaking, that it's based rather closely on a dime novel by Peter Saxon, or rather, "Peter Saxon," not an actual author but a Brit-pulp pseudonym used by almost a dozen different writers in the '60s and '70s on paperback knockoffs for mass sale (the book's title also fits like a glove: The Disoriented Man). There's something seductive and charming about the kind of genre filmmaking that could be perpetrated in the '60s and '70s, targeted at drive-ins and double bills (here, Hessler's film was paired with The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant (1971), arguably the only movie that year with a zingier title), and rapped out with nominal fuss for a shrugging undemanding pubertal audience, for whom the Price-Lee-Cushing trifecta was reason enough to kill a rainy Saturday afternoon at the movie-house. By Michael Atkinson

Quotes

Fastest transition in the world: from human to corpse. It doesn't do to get the two confused, or you'll never be successful.
- Professor Kingsmill
Smells like cheese, looks like ham...
- Superintendent Bellaver
Oh, no problem: it's chicken.
- Superintendent Bellaver
That bloody chicken wasn't killed, it died of old age.
- Superintendent Bellaver

Trivia

'Vincent Price' refused a stunt double for a scene where he submerges in bubbling yellow "goo".

Notes

Opened in London in February 1970.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1970

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1970