Scream and Scream Again

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Scream and Scream Again
Scream and Scream Again FilmPoster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGordon Hessler
Produced byMax Rosenberg
Milton Subotsky
Louis M. Heyward
Written byChristopher Wicking
Based onThe Disorientated Man by Peter Saxon
StarringAlfred Marks
Vincent Price
Christopher Lee
Peter Cushing
Michael Gothard
Music byDavid Whitaker
CinematographyJohn Coquillon
Edited byPeter Elliott
Production
company
Distributed byWarner Pathe (UK)
AIP (USA)
Release date
January 1970 (UK)
February 2, 1970 (US)[1]
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$350,000[1]
Box office$1,217,000 (US/ Canada rentals)[2]

Scream and Scream Again is a 1970 British-American science fiction conspiracy thriller film starring Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Alfred Marks, Michael Gothard, and Peter Cushing. It is based on the novel The Disorientated Man by 'Peter Saxon', a house pseudonym used by various authors in the 1960s and 1970s.

It marks the second teaming, after The Oblong Box, of actors Price and Lee with director Gordon Hessler. Price and Lee only share a brief scene in the film's climax, however. Cushing, in his brief scene, shares no screen time with either Price or Lee.

Although the film's title, and association with stars Price, Lee and Cushing, might suggest a violent horror film, the violence in the film is mostly understated and/or off-screen, while the plot owes more to films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers or 1970's era 'conspiracy thrillers' like The Parallax View.

Overlooked during its initial release, the film has since become a minor cult classic, with the Overlook Film Guide acknowledging it as: "one of the best science-fiction films made in Britain."

Plot[edit]

The movie's structure is fragmented, as it alternates between three distinguishable plot threads.

A man jogging through suburban London grabs his heart, and collapses. He wakes up in a hospital bed. The nurse tending him gives him water. She leaves. He pulls down the bed covers to discover that his lower right leg has been amputated. He screams.

Elsewhere, intelligence operative Konartz (Marshall Jones) returns to his home country, an unidentified Eastern European totalitarian state. Upon being debriefed by a superior officer, Konartz steps around the table and places a hand on the other man's shoulder, paralyzing and thereby killing him.

Back in London, MPS Detective Superintendent Bellaver (Alfred Marks) investigates the deaths of several young women in the city. The women, picked up at nightclubs by Keith (Michael Gothard), have apparently been killed by the same individual, and some of the bodies have been drained of blood.

The centerpiece of the movie is a nearly fifteen minutes long police - murder suspect car-chase/foot-chase sequence through suburban London.

Vincent Price plays Dr. Browning, whose clinic specializes in limb and organ transplantation.

Christopher Lee plays Fremont, the head of Britain's (unnamed) intelligence services.

Peter Cushing plays Major Benedek, an official in the Eastern European country; a very brief cameo role.

The three plotlines converge in a chilling and unexpected climax.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The movie is based on Peter Saxon's science fiction novel The Disorientated Man. For the most part, the movie follows the novel quite closely.

In the novel, the antagonists turned out to be aliens. According to an interview with Christopher Lee, the characters were indeed going to be revealed as aliens in the movie's climax, but all connections to that fact were cut out of the movie before it was released, leaving the enigmatic villains' backgrounds unexplained.[3]

Rights to the novel were bought by Milton Subotsky of Amicus Productions who got financing from Louis Heyward head of European operations for AIP.[1]

There was a script by Subotsky but it was regarded as unplayable.[4] Gordon Hessler says he got Chris Wickling to heavily rewrite it:

That was really a pulp book, a throwaway book that you read on a train. There was nothing in it, just empty pieces of action. But it was Chris who gave it a whole new level by using it as a political process of what might happen in the future. That is what made the picture, he's the one that came up with all those ideas, yet he still managed to keep the nuances of the sort of pulp fiction novel.[5]

The eponymous theme song for the film was by Amen Corner, who appeared in the film singing it. This was one of their last appearances before Andy Fairweather Low departed for a solo career after a brief career as Fair Weather.

This marked the first time that horror-movie icons Peter Cushing, Vincent Price and Christopher Lee appeared in the same feature-film. The three actors however, do not share screen space. Cushing does not appear with either Lee or Price - only appearing in a cameo. Lee and Price share a brief scene towards the film's climax.

The film was made in the span of a month, starting on 5 May 1969 at Shepperton, having location work done at Trafalagar Square and Chertsey, Surrey. Though the film has a release date of 1970, the copyright lists 1969.[6] Judy Huxtable is billed as a "guest star".

An episode of The X-Files, Kill Switch, depicts Agent Fox Mulder in a virtual reality experience during which, like this film's victim, nurses periodically amputate his limbs while he sleeps.

Reception[edit]

Reviews from critics were mixed. Howard Thompson of The New York Times wrote that the film "tools along intriguingly for a while with some genuine possibilities before taking a nosedive" when it "ends up in still another mad scientist's lair."[7] Variety wrote that the script "has almost as many holes as the assorted victims of the action. However, such criticism is completely irrelevant to the film's gripping momentum of horror."[8] Roger Ebert gave the film two stars out of four, calling it "ridiculous" yet "impossible to dislike because they ask only that you share their sense of the absurd. The fascinating thing about this one is that it makes absolutely no sense at all until maybe the last 10 minutes. None."[9] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film one star, calling it "a violent and sick film ... that begs to be included in our annual worst twenty list."[10] Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called the film "a superb piece of contemporary horror, a science fiction tale possessed of a credibility more terrifying than any of the Gothic witchery of 'Rosemary's Baby' ... It's one of those movies where you have no idea what's going on until the end, but once there, there's no letdown."[11]

The film presently holds an approval rating of 58% on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes based on 12 reviews, with an average score of 5.5 out of 10.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Ed. Allan Bryce, Amicus: The Studio That Dripped Blood, Stray Cat Publishing, 2000. p 56-61. ISBN 9780953326136
  2. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1970", Variety, 6 January 1971 p 11
  3. ^ Pohle, Robert; Hart, Douglas; Pohle Baldwin, Rita (2017). The Christopher Lee film encyclopedia. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 127. ISBN 9780810892705. OCLC 973222703. If that [being an alien] wasn't clear, it was either in the cutting or the story, because that indeed was meant to be the solution.
  4. ^ All's Well That Ends: an interview with Chris Wicking Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 55, Iss. 658, (Nov 1, 1988): 322.
  5. ^ George G. Reis, "An Interview with Gordon Hessler", DVD Drive In accessed 27 February 2014
  6. ^ "19 Things You Must Know About Scream and Scream Again". The Sound of Vincent Price. February 7, 2017. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
  7. ^ Thompsom, Howard (July 9, 1970). "Neighborhoods Get Horror Film Dual Bill". The New York Times: 44.
  8. ^ "Scream and Scream Again". Variety: 16. February 11, 1970.
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (February 18, 1970). "Scream And Scream Again". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
  10. ^ Siskel, Gene (February 18, 1970). "Scream Again". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 5.
  11. ^ Thomas, Kevin (February 21, 1970). "'Scream Again' Scary Science Fiction Tale". Los Angeles Times. Part II, p. 9.
  12. ^ "Scream And Scream Again". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 10, 2018.

External links[edit]