Scream and Scream Again
|Scream and Scream Again|
|Directed by||Gordon Hessler|
|Produced by||Max Rosenberg|
Louis M. Heyward
|Written by||Christopher Wicking|
|Based on||The Disorientated Man by Peter Saxon|
|Music by||David Whitaker|
|Edited by||Peter Elliott|
|Distributed by||Warner-Pathé (UK)|
American International Pictures (USA)
|January 1970 (UK)|
February 2, 1970 (US)
|Box office||$1,217,000 (US/ Canada rentals)|
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 (1967) 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. 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."
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. Later scenes repeat the same action as other limbs are amputated.
Elsewhere, intelligence operative Konratz (Marshall Jones) returns to his home country, an unidentified Eastern European totalitarian state. Upon being debriefed by a superior officer, Konratz steps around the table and places a hand on the other man's shoulder, paralyzing and thereby killing him. Konratz later encounters Benedek (Peter Cushing), another superior whom he kills in the same way, apparently with the complicity of the country's military.
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. With young examining physician Dr. David Sorel (Christopher Matthews), Bellaver goes to the clinic of Dr. Browning (Vincent Price), whose secretary was one of the victims, but Browning provides no useful information. Hoping to trap the killer, Bellaver has a young policewoman, wearing a wire and electronic tracer, go to a club where she lets herself get picked up and driven away by Keith. The police follow and arrive just after Keith has attacked the woman and appears to be drinking blood from her wrist. With apparent superhuman strength, Keith fights off the arresting police and drives off, beginning a very long chase sequence by car and on foot through suburban London, which ends at an estate where Keith throws himself into a pool of acid in an outbuilding. The building turns out to belong to Dr. Browning, who explains that he uses the acid to destroy possible pathogens in his biological experiments.
The narrative strands begin to come together, when Bellaver's superior, Fremont (Christopher Lee) meets Konratz at London's Trafalgar Square. Soon after, Fremont tells Bellaver and Sorel to stop their investigations, but Sorel decides to continue on his own. Accompanied by another young policewoman, he goes to Browning's laboratory, seemingly unoccupied, but the young woman and their car disappear. Later, the woman wakes up in the same room with the same attending nurse as the dismembered jogger.
Returning to Browning's house, Sorel is discovered ,and Browning reveals what his experiments are really about. Konratz appears, revealed to be part of a plot to replace human beings with artificial beings. Konratz is angry that Browing's actions have interfered with his part of the plot, but when Browning expresses misgivings, he and Konratz struggle. Konratz is pushed into the acid, which was relocated to the laboratory room. Fremont appears and struggles with Browning, who also falls into the acid. Fremont, Sorel, and the policewoman escape, although to an uncertain future.
- Vincent Price as Dr. Browning
- Christopher Lee as Fremont
- Peter Cushing as Benedek
- Judy Huxtable as Sylvia
- Alfred Marks as Detective Superintendent Bellaver
- Michael Gothard as Keith
- Anthony Newlands as Ludwig
- Peter Sallis as Schweitz
- Uta Levka as Jane
- Christopher Matthews as Dr. David Sorel
- Judy Bloom as Helen Bradford
- Clifford Earl as Detective Sergeant Jimmy Joyce
- Kenneth Benda as Professor Kingsmill
- Marshall Jones as Konratz
- Yutte Stensgaard as Erika
- Julian Holloway as Detective Constable Griffin
- Nigel Lambert as Ken Sparten
- Amen Corner as themselves
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.
There was a script by Subotsky but it was regarded as unplayable. 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.
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. Judy Huxtable is billed as a "guest star".
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." 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." 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." 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." 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."
- Ed. Allan Bryce, Amicus: The Studio That Dripped Blood, Stray Cat Publishing, 2000. p 56-61. ISBN 9780953326136
- "Big Rental Films of 1970", Variety, 6 January 1971 p 11
- 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.
- All's Well That Ends: an interview with Chris Wicking Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 55, Iss. 658, (Nov 1, 1988): 322.
- George G. Reis, "An Interview with Gordon Hessler", DVD Drive In accessed 27 February 2014
- "19 Things You Must Know About Scream and Scream Again". The Sound of Vincent Price. February 7, 2017. Retrieved October 10, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Thompsom, Howard (July 9, 1970). "Neighborhoods Get Horror Film Dual Bill". The New York Times: 44.
- "Scream and Scream Again". Variety: 16. February 11, 1970.
- Ebert, Roger (February 18, 1970). "Scream And Scream Again". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved October 10, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Siskel, Gene (February 18, 1970). "Scream Again". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 5.
- Thomas, Kevin (February 21, 1970). "'Scream Again' Scary Science Fiction Tale". Los Angeles Times. Part II, p. 9.
- "Scream And Scream Again (Screamer) (1970)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 8, 2020.