Yikes! I first saw Scream and Scream Again way back in the early 80’s when it was one of a number of dated old horror movies which used to turn up on STV to punish those who dared to stay up late. To be honest, I was utterly dumfounded by this deeply strange movie at the time; it felt like three completely different movies spliced together without reason; it’s supposedly based on a novel called The Disoriented Man by Peter Saxon. But returning to the scene of the crime, Gordon Hessler’s film for AIP is more sci-fi than horror, and grabbing the chance to see this on a spankingly crisp blu-ray from Radiance Films, it turns out to be a real curiosity, way ahead of the game in terms of depicting the genetic super-soldier trope that’s become familiar since.
Despite the trio of big names, noted 1960s comic Alfred Marks largely dominates the policier segments here as Detective Superintendent Bellaver, a tough cop who is investigating murderous proceedings involving acid baths. His attempts to track down a seemingly super-human killer are intercut with a hospital bed scene where a patient who has recently suffered a heart attack repeatedly wakes up to find further limbs removed. In such a surreal film, it almost feels like a let down to have a third storyline involving Christopher Lee tracking down Vincent Price, who eventually explains that he was heading up a secret government plot to create genetically modified super soldiers, with one particular experiment seeming running amock.
Played by Michael Gothard, this crazed killer is sufficiently deranged that he can rip off his own arm to avoid a handcuffing to a police car bumper and yet also has the toxic male energy to prey on post-club ‘dolly birds’. Meanwhile, Peter Cushing’s character plays politics in a totalitarian police state vividly depicted in a few nightmare sequences in the mould of 1984, a futuristic vibe that runs against the grain of a film that is clearly late 60’s London down to the inevitable psychedelic freak-out performed by Amen Corner.
Any totalitarian state which is prepared to tolerate the musical stylings of Andy Fairweather Low seems to me an odd fish, and even on a fresh watch, it’s hard to square the circle of the various elements of Scream and Scream Again. Fans are usually intrigued by the star casting, but Lee and Cushing are barely in it, and Price’s mad scientist isn’t one of his wilder creations. But the multiple storylines, none of which entirely fit together even after the credits roll at the end, make this a very memorable film to watch; apparently an ending which reveals all such malarkey to be the work of aliens was intended, and what’s left on screen is as inscrutable as a crossword without any clues.
Scream and Scream Again can be pre-ordered on blu-ray from Radiance Films here.
LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
- High-Definition digital transfer of the British and American cuts of the film
- Uncompressed mono PCM audio
- Audio commentary with Kevin Lyons, author of The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film and Television and Jonathan Rigby, author of English Gothic: Classic Horror Cinema 1897-2015 (2023)
- New interviews with actors Julian Holloway and Christopher Matthews, editor Peter Elliott, and propman Arthur Wicks (2023)
- Ramsey Campbell on Christopher Wicking and ‘Peter Saxon’ (2023)
- Gentleman Gothic: Gordon Hessler at American International Pictures – A documentary on the filmmaker’s work for the studio featuring Hessler himself and critics Jeff Burr, David Del Valle, Steve Haberman and C. Courtney Joyner (2015, 23 mins)
- Uta Screams Again – An interview with actress Uta Levka (1999, 9 mins)
- Super 8 Version – a reconstruction of the cut-down version distributed as The Living Corpses of Dr. Mabuse
- Deleted scenes
- Mick Garris trailer commentary – the filmmaker provides a short overview of the film (2013, 2 mins)
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Reversible sleeve featuring designs based on original posters
- Limited edition booklet featuring new writing by critic Anne Billson
- 3 character postcards of classic images from the film
- Limited edition of 3000 copies, presented in full-height Scanavo packaging with removable OBI strip leaving packaging free of certificates and markings