Scream And Scream Again (1969)
To the sound of some fool mucking about on a Bontempi organ, a jogger collapses in the street. He wakes up in hospital and soon realises that for some reason, he's minus a leg, and being tended to by a saucy nurse.
Before you have chance to wonder what the bloody hell's going on there, you're whisked off to what appears to be Nazi Germany, where Peter "Last Of The Summer Wine" Sallis gets given the old death grip treatment by some bloke.
And still the plot continues to make no sense, as the scene changes again - this time we're back in England, where the police are investigating the sex murder of a young girl.
Press man: "Is it murder, sir?"
Obligatory crotchety police inspector: "Is it murder? Don't be so bloody stupid!"
Actually, in the grand pantheon of miserable police inspectors that populate this site (Donald Pleasance in Death Line, Robert Hardy in Psychomania, Michael Elphick in Vampire Motorcycle, Milo O'Shea in Theatre Of Blood etc etc), Alfred Marks' Insp Bellaver has to rank amongst the best. And he's amongst some pretty tough competition. What's more, he apparently wrote a lot of his own material. So we get him snarling "Snotty little bar-stard, inne?" at one point, and at another, he seems far more concerned about his sandwich than the case at hand:
"Smells like cheese, looked like ham... I was close - it's chicken. This chicken wasn't killed - it died of old age."
Anyway, back to the plot (plot?). The dead girl apparently worked for Vincent Price, who is some kind of doctor. But let's not hang around following the murder investigation - no, back at the hospital, our friend has woken again to find that he's now missing both his legs. Confused? You will be.
Out on the moors, two hikers are being shot at by Nazi soldiers. Why? Who cares. What's more important is that the male hiker is wearing the smallest pair of shorts you've ever seen, and he's accompanied by a pre-Lust For A Vampire Yutte Stensgaard. She's taken back to the Nazi castle for a quick bit of torture, her screams fading into... a pop concert.
At this point I have to take a breather. I mean, I'm all for giving the audience something to think about, but this is taking the piss. We're well into the film's 90 minute running time, and absolutely nothing has been explained. What's more, we're about to be treated to a tiny cameo from Peter Cushing (who complains about the torture only to get killed by death-grip man), the same piece of live footage from Amen Corner repeated over and over again (by the look of it), and a missing airman who we never see. Add to this the poor sod in the hospital bed, who, by the next time we see him, has lost his arms as well.
The only bit of relevant plot concerns the groovily dressed murderer, who picks up a girl in the club where Amen Corner are playing, kills her and somehow relieves her body of all its blood. At least here's a bit of plot we can grasp hold of - the police decide to set some bait for the "Vampire Killer", putting police women into the club as honey traps. Amen Corner are still playing the same song (well it was the late 60s), and of course, one of the police women falls lucky(?), although her idiot colleagues fail to realise she's being killed ("Let the girl have some fun...") until it's nearly too late.
The murderer (in a fetching purple ruffled shirt) then proceeds to kick the shit out of a load of policemen, and escape in his car. Cue fantastic car chase, only let down by some crappy day-for-night photography which succeeds in giving the impression that the police have been chasing him at high speed for nearly a week. He's cornered in an old house - but that doesn't stop him - once again plod are on the wrong end of a serious twatting. However, a quarry proves to be his undoing, and after failing to scale its sides and banging his head, the police remark that "Well, it's all over, eh?"
After handcuffing him to the bumper of a car, they all wander off (like you would do...), allowing him the chance to rip his own hand off and escape. Ouch. That is going to hurt come morning. Or at least it would have done, if he hadn't put everyone out of their misery and brought the chase to a final end by jumping into a vat of acid when cornered in a barn on Vincent Price's farm.
The hand is taken to a hospital for study, but they don't have it for long - the saucy nurse from scene one is on hand to casually kill an orderly and steal it.
The police now reckon "Either this is coincidence, or we've got more than one super-normal freak maniac on our hands", but obviously still smarting from the kicking the first one gave them, decide to shut the case anyway.
Of course, that's not the end of the matter (although it could be - as it is, the audience would be none the wiser if The End appeared on screen right now) - a young blonde doctor decides to do a little investigating of his own and heads back to Price's farm. Unfortunately there's no acid in the tank any more, and when he gets back to his car his look-out (an attractive young WPC) has vanished.
In London, Lee is meeting up with our friend the killer masseur (whose name is Konrad, apparently) in the middle of Trafalgar Square. A deal is struck - the pilot back (remember him?) in return for all the evidence on "the vampire murderer", to prevent an international incident. The kidnapped police woman wakes up in the same bed we last saw the limbless man lying in, and (fed up with waiting for Lee's bureaucracy to kick in, obviously) Konrad goes to the police station himself to fetch the evidence, killing Inspector Bellaver while he's at it.
Still with me? Don't worry, we're almost at the end... The Blonde Doctor infiltrates Price's secret laboratory, and the plot is finally explained in typical Price fashion: "I don't have much of a chance to show off, and I couldn't resist telling you anyway..."
He's been making people. Composites, if you will - of which he is one.
"It's the old mad scientist' dream - playing god."
Price: "Man is god now, he always was."
Price's next Composite will be made up of the police woman, but before he can start, Konrad turns up and there's a big fight. "You've turned every scientific advance into a weapon! You won't have me or my work!" Price screams, as the trusty death grip fails to work on him and he turns round and twats Konrad with (of all things) a fire extinguisher.
There's acid baths a-plenty for all concerned at the finale, and a typically late 60s open ended "make your own mind up" last scene.
Scream And Scream Again - perhaps not the best plotted or easily comprehensible film on the site, but one of the maddest. And any film with all three Brit Horror greats in it has got to be worth a look.
Last updated: February 27, 2010
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