Arts

Cult Movie: Scream And Scream Again sees trio of terror merchants united

Vincent Price in Scream And Scream Again as the doctor who might just be creating alien clones
Ralph McLean

ANY movie that brings Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing together has got to be worth the attention of any true cult connoisseur.

The presence of that much-loved trio of terror merchants in Scream And Scream Again, an oddly appealing horror/sci-fi hybrid from 1969, was certainly a big selling point for the film-makers at the time. It was trumpeted as the very first time that those super-stylish leading men of traditional horror had united on the silver screen and the last until director Pete Walker wheeled them out for his morbidly mundane House Of Long Shadows in 1982.

The fact that the three share absolutely no screen time together in the film and the roles of Cushing and Lee are little more than glorified cameos only serves to remind you how much of a part hype has to play in the world of classic horror.

Despite the con of the casting, Scream And Scream Again remains a superb example of the kind of low-budget magic that British exploitation movie makers were seemingly able to weave at will in the decade that apparently swung like a pendulum.

It's a mixed-up mess of a movie that jumps violently from serial-killer-on-the-loose sequences to future-shock visions of Britain in the grip of extreme fascism and even moments of genuinely alarming body horror that predate the slasher movie genre by several bloody years but it's fresh and funky in a way that still drags you into its weird and wondrous world even today.

Christopher Wicking's script lurches between numerous seemingly unrelated plots of which the following are just a few. Strange scenes are afoot inside a neo-Nazi government in Britain where leading figures in the regime (such as the criminally under-used Cushing and a pre-Last Of The Summer Wine Peter Sallis) are being bumped off by a murderous insider.

We meet a hapless jogger who collapses on a run only to find himself repeatedly waking up in a hospital bed with another limp amputated every single time.

Michael Gothard is a groovy young cravat-wearing hipster who hangs around a swinging nightspot called the Busted Pot listening to Amen Corner belt out the movie's title song and ogling all the young, mini-skirt-clad dolly birds and a wise-cracking police inspector (played with just the right mix of sarcasm and cynicism by comedian Alfred Marks) believes he's behind a spate of gruesome murders of young women in the area.

A nifty car chase sees Gothard captured and handcuffed to the bumper of a police car. When the clearly super strong groover rips his own hand off to escape all roads lead to a local doctor (Vincent Price) who might just be creating alien clones to take over the world.

That sounds like a load of mixed-up nonsense because it is but the fun value is huge as each seemingly unrelated story starts to cross over into the next and director Gordon Hessler keeps the madcap thrills racing along at a mighty pace.

Saturday night cult classics don't come much groovier than this.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access

Arts