Wednesday, October 12, 2016

#12 - Scream and Scream Again (1970)

After last's night's movie turned out to be more of a comedy than a horror flick, I decided to try a different source for my movie viewing.  Turner Classic Movies usually has some pretty good horror in the month of October, so I managed to DVR a couple movies from their overnight line-up.

Scream and Scream Again (1970) starts out rather slowly.  There's a body found in a park, a young woman with her throat slashed, a rape victim.  The police are a bit confused when the coroner reports that the victim's throat was crushed before her death, and that despite the horrendous slash wound on her throat, there was little blood at the scene.  Two small puncture marks are found on the victim's wrist, and the body seems drained of blood.  Then there's another victim, with precisely the same wounds!  Do they have a vampire on their hands?

Okay, when I checked the information on this movie, and I saw it actually had Vincent Price, Peter Cushing AND Christopher Lee in it, I nearly splooged.  I had never even heard of these three awesome actors, mostly known for their horror roles, actually starring in a movie together.  Sure, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing starred in a whole smorgasbord of Hammer Horror films together, and by all accounts were the best of friends, but add in Vincent Price?  WHAT THE HELL!  Surely, such a film would open a portal to Hell itself, and Hades would come striding through, probably played by Boris Karloff, with Peter Lorre traipsing along as a demon jester!   I was psyched for one of the greatest, most mind-twistingly terrifying movies I had ever seen!

If only it had worked out that way.  First off, and maybe a few minor spoilers to follow, Peter Cushing is actually only on-screen for about a full minute, playing an officer in some military force that looks suspiciously like the Nazis, probably before the war?  They all have these red armbands with black symbols on them that don't look like Swastikas, but are probably intended to represent them.  I don't know, the symbolism was lost on me.  Vincent Price plays Dr. Browning, who pops up a few times in the course the hour-and-a-half movie, but is probably only on-screen for maybe 5 minutes in total.  Christoper Lee probably spends less time on-screen, and plays the leader of an anti-spy network, if I'm understanding his role correctly?  In any case, most of the movie follows the antics of the detectives on the "Vampire Killer" case, and the aftermath, leaving little for these three great horror actors to do.

This movie wasn't really scary, but almost a murder-mystery type thing, with the backdrop of a cold war, or maybe a political thriller?  Honestly, the whole thing was so damn confusing, and while they eventually explained most of the stuff around the ending, it didn't really explain much of anything.  The explanation SHOULD have been horrifying, and I get the impression that the movie-makers WANTED you to be invested in the story by then, but the movie was a little too haphazard and mish-mashed together to be completely coherent.  There's a coroner who's supposed to be the hero, but he doesn't even show up until halfway through the movie, and he seems like such a characterless schleb that you wonder what the hell he's even doing.  There's not much rhyme or reason to why things are done the way they are, or why people are killed, just a bunch of long and loud (and pointless) night club scenes interspersed with detectives arguing amongst themselves, and I was confused just trying to figure out what was going on.

Honestly, I'm not sure why they got these three great actors together, and then didn't have them interact more.  It's like they had a crappy story that nobody in their right minds would be interested in watching, and then plopped these three guys in to do some cameos, just to make sure people watched it.  Did I mention there was nudity, too?  Another sure-fire way to get people (or at least guys) to watch a flick, amirite?  And the nudity's not even that good, unless you like necrophilia, which I don't.  The plot seems long and convoluted, and builds so slowly, I wanted to switch the movie off during the first thirty seconds.  That probably should have clued me in to how bad it was going to be, but I stuck around, much to my disappointment.

So, to sum up.  A disappointingly bad movie, with Vincent Price, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee doing brief cameos in an otherwise lame and unexciting plot.  There's not even any supernatural elements to it, so I'm not even sure it classifies as horror.  I can't recommend anyone watch this, but I caught it on Turner Classic Movies  (TCM).  I'm not sure when they'll play it again, but I certainly wouldn't waste my time watching it again.

In other news, did you guys know Boris Karloff's Frankenstein monster was actually the inspiration for Marvel's "the Hulk" character?  Sure, they're killing him off now (Why, Marvel?  WHY?), but old Greenskin actually used to be drawn as having the characteristic black-haired, flat-topped skull that the classic Frankenstein's monster used to have.  Sure, they beefed him up a little, but when you think about it, aren't the two characters pretty much the same?  Big, green, and strong, uncommunicative and very rage-y when cornered.  The "Monster" is misunderstood, and hunted relentlessly, just because he's different.  He acts out against his hunters, out of rage and frustration, because he can't get them to understand that he's not really interested in hurting anyone.  Sound familiar?  I could be describing Frankenstein's Monster, or the Hulk.  Take your pick.

That's all for tonight, mostly because I want to get this post up before midnight.  Til tomorrow night, and hopefully a better movie.  I'll try to choose more carefully, next time.  Something with at least a little Halloween horror in it, I hope.

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