31 Days of Horror: Scream and Scream Again

Just as I was about to start catching up on my viewing, I got sidelined by a bad reaction to this year’s flu shot and spent 48 hours in misery. I’m still on the mend and it’s going to be dicey whether I get my 31 films in this year before October’s end, but I’ll persevere.

A jogger suffers a heart attack as he runs through the park. An unknown rapist and murderer stalks the British nightclubs. A man crosses the border into an unidentified Eastern Bloc country, fascist-looking flags and insignia plastered everywhere. Somehow, these are all threads in the same movie. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see how they all come together!

Scream and Scream Again (1970) is one of those movies you’re certain is going to be a stellar piece of vintage horror just from the cast. How many other films can boast it features Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, AND Vincent Price?! (the answer is “one”). Unfortunately, what looks good on the tin doesn’t always deliver in the tasting.

As I mentioned above, the plot of Scream and Scream Again features at least three separate storylines and we jump back and forth between them. The heart attack victim awakens in the hospital to find he’s missing a leg. The police discover the nightclub victims have been drained of blood. A sinister, unnamed Eastern Bloc government tortures captives and plans a gambit against the West. It takes about an hour before two of these plotlines meet up, and the final one gets tied in with about 10 minutes to spare of the film’s running time.

The wheels start falling off early when Peter Cushing is dispatched after a single scene (the shoulder is apparently humankind’s deadliest weak spot). Christopher Lee pops in now and again as a government officer involved with the Eastern Bloc plot, and we only get Vincent Price a few times, even though it’s pretty evident he’s going to turn out to be our villain. I mean, he is Vincent Price, Peter Cushing’s dead, and Christopher Lee is merely a civil servant of an evil government agency, so it’s an easy conclusion to jump to.

Despite a story that includes artificial people, blood-drinking, acid baths, government intrigue, car chases, a showdown in a chalk quarry, and a dazzling look at Swinging Sixties London nightlife, Scream and Scream Again can’t stick the ending. Vincent Price claimed that he never understood the script at all. I’m not sure he needed to bother to try. The movie might have had good intentions, but it ekes out a meager 2 skulls out of 5 for its efforts.

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