Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing allegedly star in 1970’s Scream and Scream Again. If one watched the movie without seeing the opening credits, I don’t think many would suspect those three were top-billed.
But then, if anybody misses the opening credit sequence, they wouldn’t see footage of man jogging. A lot of footage. He suddenly collapses from what appears to be a heart attack. He comes to in what appears to be a hospital room. He throws back the sheets and starts screaming when he sees his right leg has been amputated below the knee.
Cut to a guy being stopped at the border of a fictional totalitarian country. After a long sequence of his car being inspected, he walks into a room where Peter Sallis, apparently playing a government official, is seated. The voice of Wallace from those Aardman films gets killed via what looks like the Vulcan neck pinch. No idea how that relates to the bit about the jogger.
Cut to a woman found raped and murdered in a park. The victim had been strangled, but the actual death happened when her throat was cut. The police inspector (Alfred Marks) goes to see her employer, played by Vincent Price. They have a brief scene together where no new information is relayed. No idea how this relates to either of the previous bits.
So we have three seemingly unrelated stories that the movie just keeps cutting between at random. And our leads barely factor into any of them.
Peter Cushing is in the film for about a minute before being on the receiving end of the Vulcan neck pinch. That’s probably just as well for him, as his killer apparently tortured a female prisoner in an earlier scene by cutting off each of her fingers with snips he previously used to cleanly cut through a chicken leg bone. Fortunately for us, we only see the finger-cutting about to happen without seeing the actual torture.
Price will return to the movie later, after a vampire being pursued by the police jumps in a pool of acid recessed in the floor of his barn. A nurse is his employs steals from the police the vampire’s right hand which had been left in handcuffs connected to the bumper of an officer’s car. Believe me, my description of all of this is no less bizarre than watching the film.
Christopher Lee appears as a British agent. He phones in most of his screentime, literally, as he largely talks to other characters from a desk phone in an office. It was a relief to see him in a sequence where he walks around a public square for a while, just to see him get some fresh air. But the camera follows him from a distance for so long that I wondered if this was made using the approach Steve Martin uses in Bowfinger, putting Lee in a movie without him being aware of it.
This movie is so daft, and some moments are so laughable, that I honestly couldn’t tell if this was trying to be a comedy. Remember that guy who wakes up missing the lower half of one leg? Each time we return to him, he wakes up to find another appendage missing. My wife wondered aloud if the guy would wake up again and this time his head would be missing.
In another scene, the vampire effortlessly runs up a cliff face in what is some impressive wire work. But in a touch that only could be an attempt at humor, Marks throws a rock at least 100 feet in the air and it hits the vampire. Then he does that again. Really, how was this inspector never recruited as a pitcher for a major league baseball team?
When we finally get a scene where Price gets real screentime, he delivers a long exposition dump to a forensic detective who had broken into the lab. Basically, it is the Frankenstein story again, except with the intention of creating a master race of superhumans.
If there is one positive I can say about this movie is there is a series of surprises I did not anticipate in this scene. Unfortunately, I can’t say it was worth watching Scream and Scream Again to get to those moments. It is a movie that seems determined to confuse the viewer or is too lazy to care if they can follow it.
Dir: Gordon Hessler
Starring Vincent Price (for maybe 10 minutes), Christopher Lee (for maybe 5), Peter Cushing (for about a hot minute)
Watched on Kino Lorber blu-ray