And Now The Screaming Starts


1h 27m 1973

Brief Synopsis

England 1795: the young Catherine just married Charles Fengriffen and moves into his castle. She becomes victim of an old curse that lays on the family. In her wedding night she's raped by a ghost and gets pregnant.

Film Details

Also Known As
Fengriffen
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Apr 1973
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Amicus Productions
Distribution Company
Cinerama Releasing Corp.
Country
Great Britain and United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

England 1795: the young Catherine just married Charles Fengriffen and moves into his castle. She becomes victim of an old curse that lays on the family. In her wedding night she's raped by a ghost and gets pregnant.

Film Details

Also Known As
Fengriffen
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Apr 1973
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Amicus Productions
Distribution Company
Cinerama Releasing Corp.
Country
Great Britain and United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

And Now the Screaming Starts - Peter Cushing stars in the 1972 Horror Thriller from the Amicus Collection


The output of Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg's Amicus Films has never generated the level of interest and devotion that the films of its more famous rival, Hammer, have enjoyed in the horror fan community. While there have been numerous books, documentaries, websites and special edition DVDs devoted to Hammer, Amicus has been largely neglected. Happily, Dark Sky Films is helping to redress the balance with their "Amicus Collection" series of DVDs, which presents a trio of the studio's efforts with attractive new transfers and generous supplements: Asylum (1972), The Beast Must Die (1974) and the subject of this review, And Now the Screaming Starts (1973).

Based on Charles Case's novel Fengriffen, And Now the Screaming Starts eschews the anthology format for which Amicus was best known to tell a gothic tale of ghosts and family curses. In the late 18th Century, Charles Fengriffen (Ian Ogilvy) and his fiancée Catherine (Stephanie Beacham) journey to his family estate to be married. On their wedding night, Catherine is sexually assaulted by a ghastly spectral figure with empty eye sockets and a bloody stump at the end of his right arm. Afterward, the traumatized newlywed experiences visions of her assailant and a severed hand, and seems strangely drawn to a portrait of Charles' grandfather. Exploring the estate, she meets Silas (Geoffrey Whitehead), a woodsman who strongly resembles her ghostly attacker, but his two normal hands rule out the possibility that he was the perpetrator. Convinced that Charles' ancestors and the mysterious woodsman are somehow connected to her visions, Catherine tries to learn more about the family history from their solicitor Maitland (Guy Rolfe) and their maid Mrs. Luke (Rosalie Crutchley), but both meet violent deaths before they can tell her anything. As Catherine becomes increasingly hysterical upon learning she is pregnant, family physician Dr. Whittle (Patrick Magee) recommends that Charles summon Dr. Pope (Peter Cushing), a specialist in diseases of the mind. A strict rationalist, Pope refuses to believe in a supernatural cause for the recent events, even after Charles reveals the secret of the Fengriffen curse, brought upon the family by the depraved actions of his grandfather Henry (Herbert Lom) against Silas' father (Whitehead again) and his virgin bride (Sally Harrison). Pope continues to seek a psychological explanation until the birth of Catherine's baby triggers a final descent into horror and madness for the Fengriffen family.

And Now the Screaming Starts benefits considerably from a talented cast consisting mostly of experienced British character actors. Horror legend Peter Cushing receives top billing even though his character is not introduced until the film is half over. Sporting the same unconvincing hairpiece he would don for Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974), Cushing delivers the sort of meticulously detailed performance that was his trademark. His Dr. Pope combines the compassion of Cushing's Van Helsing with the inquisitive and logical mind of his Sherlock Holmes. The underappreciated Herbert Lom makes a strong impression in the flashback sequence as Henry Fengriffen, making the character despicably vile but still very human. Geoffrey Whitehead, in the duel role of the woodsman and the woodsman's father, doesn't get a fully developed character to play, but he makes the most of his part and is memorably creepy. Patrick Magee (A Clockwork Orange), Guy Rolfe (Mr. Sardonicus) and Rosalie Crutchley (Blood from the Mummy's Tomb) lend capable support in smaller roles.

Roger Marshall's script unfortunately sticks lead actors Stephanie Beacham and Ian Ogilvy with dull, underwritten parts. For most of the film, Beacham's Catherine is alternatively hysterical, numb with shock or curious. As written, there's no arc to the character, so Beacham can only play each individual scene as best she can and hope it adds up to a performance. It's a valiant effort, but the frequent scenes of Catherine staring wide-eyed and screaming become repetitive and tiresome. Ogilvy fares even worse, since the script gives him nothing interesting to do until the end, and little emotion to play. In supernatural stories of this type the young protagonist typically either scoffs at the family curse, or seeks to openly defy it. Marshall's script is so muddled we're never entirely sure what attitude Charles has. Overall, he comes across as cold, uncaring and aloof, and we soon lose interest in him.

Director Roy Ward Baker never displayed much of a flair for the horror genre. His work in the field, including The Vampire Lovers (1970), Scars of Dracul (1970), Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) and Asylum (1972), is solidly professional but tends to lack real tension, usually coming across as too staid and reserved. In And Now the Screaming Starts, all of the scenes of shock and violence have an indifferent, perfunctory air to them. Baker seems to have put most of his effort into devising elegant and elaborate moves for the then-new Louma crane to execute in exploring Tony Curtis' superb two-storey set of the Fengriffen mansion. (Oakley Court, a familiar location from many Hammer films, is used for exterior long shots.) On one of the disc's commentary tracks, Baker remarks that he wanted the ghostly events to be ambiguous until the very end, with the viewer not sure if the events were psychological or supernatural, an approach used in the ghost movie classics The Haunting (1963) and The Innocents (1961). If this was his intention he completely botched it, because camera angles showing the living severed hand that are not representing any character's point of view tip off the viewer that the supernatural is at work within the first 15 minutes.

Producer Milton Subotsky liked to re-edit his directors' work, and often boasted about "saving" films in the cutting room. There appears to have been an attempt to make the early scenes move faster by cutting them short; many end abruptly and we jump to the next with little or no transition. Instead of picking up the pace, the cutting interferes with the narrative flow, creating a choppy feeling as the film sputters along. About a half hour into the film Catherine's Aunt Edith (Gillian Lind) suddenly appears with no introduction. Why is she there? How long has she been living in the house? We never find out, because Subotsky (or perhaps editor Peter Tanner) was overly eager to get to all the "juicy" scenes of spooky visions and violent death. These, however, soon lose their impact when they pile up one after another and little time is invested in character and story. When Cushing's Dr. Pope arrives the energy level picks up because he's a character who is interested in the events and his investigation moves the plot along, but the film never fully recovers from the damage done to the clumsy handling of the first half.

Dark Sky Films' new DVD of And Now the Screaming Starts features an excellent 1.78:1, 16 x 9 enhanced transfer that shows off Denys Coop's cinematography to good advantage. The mono sound is fine, with Douglas Gamley's over-emphatic musical score particularly well served. The primary supplements are two commentary tracks. The first, carried over from the Image Entertainment DVD of a couple years ago, features Ian Ogilvy and film historian Darren Gross. Ogilvy's recollections of the film are a little sketchy, but Gross does a good job keeping the conversation flowing, and contributes significant background information from his own research. The second, originally recorded for a UK DVD, features Roy Ward Baker and Stephanie Beacham, and is moderated by author Marcus Hearn. The director and his star warmly recall working with their many talented colleagues on the film and discuss the logistical and creative problems of making a low-budget horror film. In addition, the disc also has a still gallery, trailers for all three of Dark Sky's Amicus releases, and text biographies of Cushing, Beacham, Ogilvy, Lom, Baker and the team of Subotsky and Rosenberg.

Devoted fans of Peter Cushing and classic horror will be pleased with the presentation given this flawed film and will want to add the disc to their collections. More casual fans are advised to rent instead.

For more information about And Now the Screaming Starts, visit Dark Sky Films. To order And Now the Screaming Starts, go to TCM Shopping.

by Gary Teetzel
And Now The Screaming Starts - Peter Cushing Stars In The 1972 Horror Thriller From The Amicus Collection

And Now the Screaming Starts - Peter Cushing stars in the 1972 Horror Thriller from the Amicus Collection

The output of Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg's Amicus Films has never generated the level of interest and devotion that the films of its more famous rival, Hammer, have enjoyed in the horror fan community. While there have been numerous books, documentaries, websites and special edition DVDs devoted to Hammer, Amicus has been largely neglected. Happily, Dark Sky Films is helping to redress the balance with their "Amicus Collection" series of DVDs, which presents a trio of the studio's efforts with attractive new transfers and generous supplements: Asylum (1972), The Beast Must Die (1974) and the subject of this review, And Now the Screaming Starts (1973). Based on Charles Case's novel Fengriffen, And Now the Screaming Starts eschews the anthology format for which Amicus was best known to tell a gothic tale of ghosts and family curses. In the late 18th Century, Charles Fengriffen (Ian Ogilvy) and his fiancée Catherine (Stephanie Beacham) journey to his family estate to be married. On their wedding night, Catherine is sexually assaulted by a ghastly spectral figure with empty eye sockets and a bloody stump at the end of his right arm. Afterward, the traumatized newlywed experiences visions of her assailant and a severed hand, and seems strangely drawn to a portrait of Charles' grandfather. Exploring the estate, she meets Silas (Geoffrey Whitehead), a woodsman who strongly resembles her ghostly attacker, but his two normal hands rule out the possibility that he was the perpetrator. Convinced that Charles' ancestors and the mysterious woodsman are somehow connected to her visions, Catherine tries to learn more about the family history from their solicitor Maitland (Guy Rolfe) and their maid Mrs. Luke (Rosalie Crutchley), but both meet violent deaths before they can tell her anything. As Catherine becomes increasingly hysterical upon learning she is pregnant, family physician Dr. Whittle (Patrick Magee) recommends that Charles summon Dr. Pope (Peter Cushing), a specialist in diseases of the mind. A strict rationalist, Pope refuses to believe in a supernatural cause for the recent events, even after Charles reveals the secret of the Fengriffen curse, brought upon the family by the depraved actions of his grandfather Henry (Herbert Lom) against Silas' father (Whitehead again) and his virgin bride (Sally Harrison). Pope continues to seek a psychological explanation until the birth of Catherine's baby triggers a final descent into horror and madness for the Fengriffen family. And Now the Screaming Starts benefits considerably from a talented cast consisting mostly of experienced British character actors. Horror legend Peter Cushing receives top billing even though his character is not introduced until the film is half over. Sporting the same unconvincing hairpiece he would don for Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974), Cushing delivers the sort of meticulously detailed performance that was his trademark. His Dr. Pope combines the compassion of Cushing's Van Helsing with the inquisitive and logical mind of his Sherlock Holmes. The underappreciated Herbert Lom makes a strong impression in the flashback sequence as Henry Fengriffen, making the character despicably vile but still very human. Geoffrey Whitehead, in the duel role of the woodsman and the woodsman's father, doesn't get a fully developed character to play, but he makes the most of his part and is memorably creepy. Patrick Magee (A Clockwork Orange), Guy Rolfe (Mr. Sardonicus) and Rosalie Crutchley (Blood from the Mummy's Tomb) lend capable support in smaller roles. Roger Marshall's script unfortunately sticks lead actors Stephanie Beacham and Ian Ogilvy with dull, underwritten parts. For most of the film, Beacham's Catherine is alternatively hysterical, numb with shock or curious. As written, there's no arc to the character, so Beacham can only play each individual scene as best she can and hope it adds up to a performance. It's a valiant effort, but the frequent scenes of Catherine staring wide-eyed and screaming become repetitive and tiresome. Ogilvy fares even worse, since the script gives him nothing interesting to do until the end, and little emotion to play. In supernatural stories of this type the young protagonist typically either scoffs at the family curse, or seeks to openly defy it. Marshall's script is so muddled we're never entirely sure what attitude Charles has. Overall, he comes across as cold, uncaring and aloof, and we soon lose interest in him. Director Roy Ward Baker never displayed much of a flair for the horror genre. His work in the field, including The Vampire Lovers (1970), Scars of Dracul (1970), Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) and Asylum (1972), is solidly professional but tends to lack real tension, usually coming across as too staid and reserved. In And Now the Screaming Starts, all of the scenes of shock and violence have an indifferent, perfunctory air to them. Baker seems to have put most of his effort into devising elegant and elaborate moves for the then-new Louma crane to execute in exploring Tony Curtis' superb two-storey set of the Fengriffen mansion. (Oakley Court, a familiar location from many Hammer films, is used for exterior long shots.) On one of the disc's commentary tracks, Baker remarks that he wanted the ghostly events to be ambiguous until the very end, with the viewer not sure if the events were psychological or supernatural, an approach used in the ghost movie classics The Haunting (1963) and The Innocents (1961). If this was his intention he completely botched it, because camera angles showing the living severed hand that are not representing any character's point of view tip off the viewer that the supernatural is at work within the first 15 minutes. Producer Milton Subotsky liked to re-edit his directors' work, and often boasted about "saving" films in the cutting room. There appears to have been an attempt to make the early scenes move faster by cutting them short; many end abruptly and we jump to the next with little or no transition. Instead of picking up the pace, the cutting interferes with the narrative flow, creating a choppy feeling as the film sputters along. About a half hour into the film Catherine's Aunt Edith (Gillian Lind) suddenly appears with no introduction. Why is she there? How long has she been living in the house? We never find out, because Subotsky (or perhaps editor Peter Tanner) was overly eager to get to all the "juicy" scenes of spooky visions and violent death. These, however, soon lose their impact when they pile up one after another and little time is invested in character and story. When Cushing's Dr. Pope arrives the energy level picks up because he's a character who is interested in the events and his investigation moves the plot along, but the film never fully recovers from the damage done to the clumsy handling of the first half. Dark Sky Films' new DVD of And Now the Screaming Starts features an excellent 1.78:1, 16 x 9 enhanced transfer that shows off Denys Coop's cinematography to good advantage. The mono sound is fine, with Douglas Gamley's over-emphatic musical score particularly well served. The primary supplements are two commentary tracks. The first, carried over from the Image Entertainment DVD of a couple years ago, features Ian Ogilvy and film historian Darren Gross. Ogilvy's recollections of the film are a little sketchy, but Gross does a good job keeping the conversation flowing, and contributes significant background information from his own research. The second, originally recorded for a UK DVD, features Roy Ward Baker and Stephanie Beacham, and is moderated by author Marcus Hearn. The director and his star warmly recall working with their many talented colleagues on the film and discuss the logistical and creative problems of making a low-budget horror film. In addition, the disc also has a still gallery, trailers for all three of Dark Sky's Amicus releases, and text biographies of Cushing, Beacham, Ogilvy, Lom, Baker and the team of Subotsky and Rosenberg. Devoted fans of Peter Cushing and classic horror will be pleased with the presentation given this flawed film and will want to add the disc to their collections. More casual fans are advised to rent instead. For more information about And Now the Screaming Starts, visit Dark Sky Films. To order And Now the Screaming Starts, go to TCM Shopping. by Gary Teetzel

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Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1973

Released in United States 1973