Film (1969). Amicus/AIP. Directed by Gordon Hessler. Written by Christopher Wicking, based on The Disorientated Man (1966; vt Scream and Scream Again 1967) by Peter Saxon. Cast includes Michael Gothard, Christopher Lee, Alfred Marks and Vincent Price. 94 minutes. Colour.
This blend of policier, cold-war political thriller, Frankenstein and Vampire movie, initially ignored, was later seen by some cinéastes as one of the major UK sf films. An enjoyable farrago, it does have moments of distinction, but its silliness gets in the way: the opening sequence – a hospital patient is understandably upset to find that each day he is missing yet another limb – could be a sketch from the television series Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-1974). Nowhere is it explained why Mad Scientists (the main one played by Price) need to construct a super-race (which they do using stolen body parts), why the constructed beings are so incredibly strong, why they suck blood and murder people, and why this makes them good prime-ministerial material. Marks's energetically down-to-earth performance as the baffled police inspector almost saves the film, but Scream and Scream Again works only as a (literally) disjointed series of Paranoid surreal nightmares – and, even then, poor production values and mostly indifferent performances are as likely to elicit laughter as horror. The radical subtext – our political masters are literally Monsters – had been better done elsewhere – for example in Quatermass II (1957; vt Enemy from Space). [PN]
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