Scream and Scream Again (1970)
If you grew up in the South Jersey/Philly area in the 70s and 80s you will remember UHF channel 48 (look it up on the internet kids). I’ve mentioned this TV channel a few times in previous reviews. Channel 48 was my gateway to the classic horror films of the 50s, 60s, and 70s including classic Hammer films, Universal’s creature features, and everything in between. Every Saturday channel 48 played classic horror films all day long. But of all the classic horror films I watched on all those Saturday mornings and afternoons, none stands out like SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN. The film has an amazing cast, a fantastic director, and a batshit crazy plot. SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN is easily one of my favorite horror films of all time.
SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN is directed by Gordon Hessler, director of such classic films as 1969s THE OBLONG BOX, 1971s MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE, and 1978s KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK. Kessler also directed episodes of some classic TV shows like KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER, KUNG FU, HAWAII FIVE-O, THE MASTER, and THE EQUALIZER. This is a man with a serious resume!! SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN will literally grab you from the first frame and has perhaps the creepiest openings of any movie. During the opening credits we see a man jogging. He has a heart attack and wakes up in a hospital bed. A nurse comes in and without saying a word sedates him.
The man wakes up and discovers one of his legs was amputated.
He wakes up again to find an arm amputated.
More credits roll and this pattern keeps going until he is just a torso laying in the bed with no limbs. It was creepy, scary, and beautifully sets the tone for the rest of the film.
The film stars Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing. These three icons wouldn’t appear together again in another film until 1983s HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS. A cast doesn’t get any better than this and when you add the additional talents of Peter Sallis, David Lodge, Christopher Matthews, and Judy Huxtable well you’ve got something very memorable. The plot is a wild, confusing, fun mess that seems to be made up of elements from six different films. But somehow in the end it all works. I’m not saying it all becomes coherent. No no no. Just that between the cast and all the absolutely crazy sub-plots you’re going to find yourself having one helluva fun time.
After the opening scene of the jogger in the hospital we shift over to a small town where a serial killer is on the loose. This killer is draining his victims of blood yet there’s no pools of blood at the crime scenes. A female cop goes undercover to find the killer and her fellow cops really shit the bed when she dies at the killer’s hands. The police, in a very loooong car chase scene, follow the killer back to a mad scientist (is there really any other kind?) played by Vincent Price who’s apparently trying to create a super race of human beings. Why? Why the hell not!! It’s Vincent Freakin’ Price and he can do whatever he wants. Price even has a nice big vat of acid in his barn where he dissolve his failures. In an interview several years after making SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN, Price admitted that he never had a clue or understood the script at all.
But wait. There’s two noteworthy sub-plots here: There’s a Fascist-like country with a cabal of power-hungry men (maybe the country financing Price’s super race of humans?) and there’s the mysterious “hospital” collecting body parts (one would guess the body parts are for Price’s experiments). Do all these sub-plots converge? Do we get a coherent plot by the time the end credits roll? Nope, but all these elements make for a really good time. The acting is fantastic. I mean seriously, how could it not be with the trinity of Price, Lee, and Cushing? You just know there’s gonna be some over-the-top, scenery-chewing. And in addition to the genuinely creepy and disturbing opening scene we can’t forget about the girl being interrogated in the above mentioned fascist country. Why is she being interrogated? Doesn’t matter. But she does lose a few fingers to an ordinary set of wire cutters in a very suspenseful scene that’ll have you cringing. Add to all these elements a really kickass, jazzy soundtrack and you’ve got yourself one great flick that you’ll have a really fun time with. Maybe it’s just my nostalgia flaring up but this flicks’ a winner. Definitely check it out.
Director: Gordon Hessler
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Gore: 2 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer