For Reel

Scream and Scream Again (1970)
October 29, 2016, 12:02 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Gordon Hessler
2 Stars
scream-and-scream-againScream and Scream Again brings a horror cast as esteemed as could have been assembled at the time—giants Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing are top billed, even if the latter two only qualify as cameos. Due to their places in the history of the genre, one might imagine a throwback to a simpler time in the genre’s history. But the film is decidedly of its own period, serving as a conspiracy thriller wherein a primary setting is the hip club in which rock band Amen Corner belts out the eponymous song. The soundtrack—going from the aforementioned rock to more jazz-heavy interludes—adds to an “anything goes” feel, placing the film in the context of the New Hollywood (even if neither the cast nor crew was American and Gordon Hessler was far from a young hotshot director). Similarly, the film’s approach to violence—there are several layers of heinous violent acts occurring simultaneously in seemingly disparate plot threads—is easy to identify in the context of wartime disillusionment. If the film brings together the silver age of horror into an era of experimental pop cinema, its final act is rooted entirely in the classics, including absurd plot twists and a recycling of science fiction/horror tropes. Price is enjoyable as the mad scientist and a repeated image in which a man wakes from a hospital bed to find another limb missing is genuinely chilling, but the film is mostly a story of wasted potential. If the idea from its conception seems rife with intrigue, Hessler is barely able to spin all the plates at once, ridding the picture of any suspense or sensible narrative continuity.

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