Scream and Scream Again (1970): United Kingdom – directed by Gordon Hessler
Rated PG by the MPAA – contains some violence involving acid (not the drug) and a little gore
Note: some minor spoilers may follow
First things first: a confession. Yes, I watched the movie because of the poster. And really, what horror fan wouldn’t want to watch the movie after seeing the poster? It’s one of the greatest posters I’ve ever seen. There’s gore, violence, suggested nudity, and legs, plus the promise of the three greatest and most prolific actors in horror all in one movie. Honestly, it’s amazing.
Unfortunately, the image from the poster never makes it in the movie. In fact, the movie was only rated “M” originally (back in the three year period when M and GP existed) and then the film was re-rated PG. A lady does indeed get thrown into acid, but not head first and with no side views or any views at all. She just sort of sinks. There is some tasteful nudity and some violence/gore, but the whole film is a lot less exploitative than the poster would lead one to believe.
We start, as many films do, with the opening credits. These are memorable because there is a “thank you” screen showing gratitude to Joe Wadham for arranging the police chase and thanks to Matburn Surgical for the operating theatre. Immediately, before the film starts, we know there will be a police chase and a surgery room. Hilarious.
Anyway, there’s this jogger who falls down and when he wakes up he’s in a hospital. Things aren’t quite right, however, as after a while he notices his limbs start disappearing. This is one of many storylines that don’t come together until much later. Other plotlines include a serial killer who strangles, rapes, beats, and then slits the throats of young women. There is also an odd country whose flag is symbolic of Nazi Germany, what with the red background, and also some Communist state. There’s a bad guy within their military who is doing devious things. Then there’s a British politician (Christopher Lee) who is somehow involved with all of the above.
I went in knowing nothing about the plot and was quite confused at first. However, it does all come together, and eventually involves a mad doctor (Vincent Price) who is carrying out experiments authorized by the British government. There’s a young coroner who gets mixed up with the serial killer case, though the serial killer turns out to be sort of a vampire and then not really a person at all, more a conglomeration of different people.
I did quite like it, actually. The tasteful nudity I mentioned above is only of dead girls (not sure if that’s tasteful, really, perhaps just not exploitative.) The violence serves the story but the acid doesn’t have the gory results one might hope for. It was fun watching Vincent Price not even bother pretending to be British, and it’s easy to remember that Christopher Lee used to be quite handsome. The entire production is well staged, and that doesn’t hurt matters. The acting is fine, especially from the superintendent detective. Some of the plot points are a bit odd, but no mater; that makes it more fun.
If you watch it expecting the poster to come to life you haven’t seen many movies, because posters are almost always far cooler than the movies they sell. Here, though, if you don’t worry about your expectations, you’ll be treated to a nice little tale involving macabre events without being overly gory or gruesome. Well worth the time for fans of British horror from the 60’s or 70’s, and fans of any of the actors.