Cult Movies: Scream and Scream Again is weird, wobbly and wonderfully of its time
WHEN I first saw Scream And Scream Again, on a dark and shady VHS that had been taped from late night telly and lent to me by a like-minded mate, I couldn't make head nor tail of it frankly. Watching it now on a brand spanking new Blu-ray disc from Radiance, I have to admit I'm still none the wiser really.
That's not to say it's a bad film, far from it. In fact, Scream and Scream Again is a whole heap of groovy, late 60s fun – albeit a disjointed, occasionally irritating and often downright bewildering one.
Released through Amicus Films in 1970, it's usually trumpeted in fantasy film studies of the time as the movie that brought together the legendary horror trio of Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing for the only time in cinema history, but that's just a bit of pumped-up PR, really, since while it does contain all three of the lads, their screen time is limited to say the least.
Price and Lee do at least get to face off against each other towards the end, but poor old Pete is despatched after one very brief, and very underwhelming, scene. All three never appear in a single sequence together, sadly. Those hoping for a fangs-baring, stake-driving showdown between the trio will be sorely disappointed, in other words.
There's still plenty to enjoy in director Gordon Hessler's mad mash-up of a movie though. Rather than give you a linear plot summary, because frankly there isn't one, let me share a few of the fragmented storylines that run parallel throughout the film.
A foppish serial killer, who looks like Mick Jagger dressed as Austin Powers, is running wild through the suburbs of swinging London, draining his victims of blood. A strange Nazi looking organisation is up to no good in Eastern Europe and somehow involved in the gory happenings across the water too.
Meanwhile, a man jogging across a park suddenly collapses only to wake up in a strange hospital where he finds that someone has cut off his legs. In fact, every time he wakes up he finds another limb gone. Understandably, he doesn't take it too well.
If that sounds completely nuts, it's because it is, really, but there's still lots of enjoyment to be had with this heady brew of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers-type conspiracies, mad vampire doctors and ageing horror icons.
Christopher Wicking's wilfully tricksy script blends horror and sci-fi nicely, and knowingly enough and even finds room for 1960s beat merchants The Amen Corner, who appear warbling away in the occasional infeasibly swinging nightclub scene. 'Groovy' barely covers it, really.
There are lots of ideas flashing across the screen here, so much so that apparently the great Fritz Lang acclaimed it as one of his favourite films of the time, and it contains some still slightly shocking set pieces that will long in the memory too.
Weird, wobbly and wonderfully of its time, Scream and Scream Again is a hugely entertaining beast of a B-movie. Still haven't a clue what it's all about, mind you.