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Scream And Scream Again

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    Ian Jane
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  • Scream And Scream Again



    Released by: Twilight Time
    Released on: October 2015.
    Director: Gordon Hessler
    Cast: Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee
    Year: 1970
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    The Movie:

    Directed by Gordon Hessler and written by Christopher Wicking for AIP in 1970, Scream And Scream Again, which was co-produced by Amicus in the UK, begins when a man goes out for his morning job only to collapse. He wakes up in the hospital, his limbs cut off. From there we witness the rape and murder of a young woman followed by the murder of a high ranking militia officer at the hands of a man named Konratz (Marshall Jones). Hoping to climb the ranks of said militia, Konratz follows up the first murder with a second, wherein he eliminates the man in charge, Major Heinrich Benedek (Peter Cushing).

    Meanwhile, a pretty young lady named Sylvia (Judy Huxtable) is out at a nightclub where she hooks up with a guy named Keith (Michael Gothard). Keith, however, is not the nice guy he seems and once he has his way with poor Sylvia, Inspector Bellaver (Alfred Marks) makes the scene in hopes to stop the rash of sex crimes in the area. He sends in a sexy lady cop named Helen (Judy Bloom) to work undercover and she has no trouble catching Keith's eye. By the time the cops catch up with her, however, it's too late - Keith drinks the poor woman's blood! The cops, after some wonky detective work, tie things back to Dr. Browning (Vincent Price), a government sanctioned scientist with ties to some of the murder victims. These ties don't stop with Browning, however, they go all the way to the top of the British intelligence wing, and include the man in charge, Fremont (Christopher Lee). The only one who seems to want to put a proper stop to this is Dr. David Sorel (Christopher Matthews), a cop doctor who may already know too much!

    A weird mix of genres - horror, science fiction and conspiracy theory thriller - all mixed up in a decidedly early seventies 'mod London' wrapping, Scream And Scream Again has trouble bringing all of its story elements together properly but it still makes for a pretty fun time at the movies. The biggest draw here is obviously the casting of Lee, Cushing and Price and to be honest, they're not used as well or as frequently as they probably could and should have been. That said, each of the three gets enough screen time here to make his own mark on the film, with Price in particular standing out as the devious scientist. Really though, their roles are supporting roles and we spend a fair bit more time with the other players - they do as well as they can, given that the script is pretty choppy, but they lack the star power of the aforementioned 'big three.'

    Saying that, the film, as erratic as it might be, is nice and quick in the pacing department. It might occasionally leave you scratching your head but stick with it, it turns out to be a fun watch. There are some sufficiently macabre moments here and a welcome bit of grue and gore in a couple of scenes. Hessler does tie up most of the loose ends as the film rockets towards a pretty satisfying conclusion, and even in those earlier, more haphazard early scenes, the movie is nicely shot and has a lot of weird energy working in its favor. Throw in a pretty great theme song, some fun nightclub scenes, lots of London location footage and, for all its flaws, Scream And Scream Again remains a pretty fun, if marginally confusing, genre mish-mash.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Scream And Scream Again looks really good on Blu-ray from Twilight Time in AVC encoded 1080p high definition properly framed in its original aspect ratio of 2.35.1 widescreen. Detail is consistently strong in both close ups and medium/long distance shots while color reproduction is nice and natural. The transfer shows no signs of digital trickery, so expect a nice, natural and very pleasing amount of film grain, the kind that reminds us what this movie was shot on without ever proving distracting. Skin tones look great, black levels are nice and solid and contrast looks good too, though there are some spots where colors look a bit faded and where the cinematography is a bit soft in terms of focus. Otherwise, this is a strong transfer and quite a nice improvement over the previous DVD release from MGM.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language DTS-HD Mono track, with optional closed captioning offered up in English only. While it's a bit limited in range the quality of the mix is quite solid, as it demonstrates nice clarity throughout. There are no problems of note with any hiss or distortion and the levels are nicely balanced.

    Extras start off with a commentary from film historians David Del Valle and Tim Sullivan. These guys typically do a really good job on their tracks and this one is no exception. There's a lot of emphasis on the work that Lee, Cushing and Price do here in front of the camera, which makes sense given that this would be the main draw, but so too do they talk up Hessler's direction, the locations, the score, the script and quite a bit more.

    Hessler himself is the subject of a twenty-three minute piece called Gentleman Gothic: Gordon Hessler At AIP. As you'd guess from the title it covers the director's output for American International Pictures, who bankrolled Scream And Scream Again as well as a few other Hessler helmed genre films. There are some interesting stories here about working for the studio and this winds up being a nice discussion of Hessler's work. Actress Uta Levka also gets interviewed here in a separate five minute piece where she looks back on working on the film as the odd nurse and shares some interesting anecdotes from her time on the set of the picture.

    Rounding out the extras are a trailer, a radio spot, an isolated score option in DTS-HD format, menus and chapter selection. Additionally, Julie Kirgo contributes another welcome set of liner notes by way of a full color insert booklet. Some critical analysis, thoughts on the effectiveness of the performances, particularly from the principals, and interesting bits of trivia make this well worth reading.

    The Final Word:

    Scream And Scream Again has its problems to be sure, but despite that it's a pretty entertaining picture made all the more interesting by the presence of three genuine horror film legends. Twilight Time's Blu-ray debut for the picture is a good one, offering up a nice HD presentation and with some impressive supplements that do a fine job of detailing the film's history and cultural significance.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!




















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