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From the Desk of the Unimonster...

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08 May, 2011

Junkyardfilm.com's Moldy Oldie Movie of the Month: SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN


Year of Release—Film:  1970

A young runner is running through a park when suddenly he has an apparent heart attack and collapses.  When he wakes, he's in the hospital and realizes to his horror that one of his legs is missing.  As he screams in terror the scene cuts to the discovery of a woman's lifeless body.  The police are stymied by her complete loss of blood.  The scene shifts to some neo-Nazi fascist regime apparently in a foreign country where imprisoned people are being tortured for no apparent reason.  Meanwhile, in Britain, government officials convene to have long, pointless discussions about nothing that has anything what so ever to do with this film.

The young runner is lying in the hospital bed, begging a nurse who silently goes about her nursing duties, for information.  When she exits the room, he screams in terror.  His other leg has been amputated!  At a nightclub, two young women scope out the young men.  One of the girls notices a young man named Keith (Michael Gothard) who is a possible dance partner and makes his acquaintance.  He invites her to go for a ride in his car.  Once out in the country, he attacks her, slamming her head repeatedly into a wall, then sucking blood from her unconscious body. 
Later, when the police discover her, they are confused by the lack of blood in her, on her or around her.  Meanwhile, in the foreign country, the Commander is in his office when a taller man named Konratz (Marshall Jones) comes in and, after some conversation, gives the Commander a fatal Vulcan neck-pinch.  Back in Britain, two government officials discuss something that has nothing to do with the plot.

A young runner, lying in a hospital bed, begins to weep helplessly as he discovers both of his arms have been amputated.  The police interview the young female friend from the nightclub but her recollection of the young man is fuzzy at best so the police decide to send to the nightclub an undercover female officer to ferret out the murder suspect.  Meanwhile, young Dr. Sorel examines the dead body.  In the foreign country, Major Heinrich Benedek (Peter Cushing) gets a deadly Vulcan neck-pinch from Konratz.

The undercover female officer prepares to go to the nightclub by having a microphone placed under her blouse and a tracking device placed in her shoe as her boyfriend, Dr. Sorel, looks on.  At the nightclub, it takes only minutes before the undercover office finds her man.  They leave the nightclub in his car, he not noticing the unmarked police car trailing behind.  Once in the country with the police listening on the radio, Keith begins to attack the woman, biting her on the wrist.  As the police rush to her aid, Keith flees into a nearby rock quarry.  Ignoring the policemen's shouts to come down and surrender, Keith climbs higher and higher until he almost reaches the top.  Losing his footing, he slides down into the waiting grasp of the police, who handcuff the unconscious man to the bumper of their car.  Awakening, Keith hugs frantically at the handcuffs, ultimately ripping off his own hand!  The pursuit is once again afoot!  Running over hill and dale, Keith arrives at a barn-like structure and, despite pleas from the police, throws himself into a vat of acid hidden under the barn's floorboards.  Suddenly, Dr. Browning (Vincent Price) arrives and is questioned as to why the young man would flee to his barn.  Dr. Browning feigns ignorance of the situation.

Later, Dr. Sorel and the policewoman return to Dr. Browning's property for the purpose of obtaining a sample of the acid.  He cautions the policewoman to honk the horn should anything happen and he would quickly return to the car.  Discovering the vat dry, he begins to walk back to the car when he hears the horn honking.  But, when he gets back to where he parked the car, it and it's occupant have disappeared.  Deciding Dr. Browning must know more than he is telling, the doctor sneaks into the main house and after some wandering around, discovers an operating theater, it's walls lined with refrigerated compartments.  Looking inside, he discovers human body parts.  Suddenly, Dr. Browning enters the room, followed by the silent nurse.  Questioned again about his part in this, Dr. Browning tells Dr. Sorel he's invented the perfect human substitute...super-strong and invincible cyborgs in human form!  He explains that the young man from the nightclub was an earlier failure and invites the doctor to watch as he creates a cyborg. 

The nurse rolls in a gurney carrying the policewoman's unconscious body as Dr. Browning explains her brain will be transplanted into his newest cyborg.  Terrified, Dr. Sorel first stabs the silent nurse who is unaffected by this attack.  He then attacks Dr. Browning who slams the younger doctor into a wall, knocking him unconscious.  Just as Dr. Browning is starting the operation, in walks the head of the fascist regime Fremont (Christopher Lee).  After a nonsensical conversation and a brief struggle, Lee forces Dr. Browning into a vat of acid, killing him.  The End
As all fans of film know, when a movie has several seemingly dissimilar plots they will all intertwine eventually.  With this movie, that eventuality comes too late for the viewer to care.  The only reason to sit through this confusing and bizarre film is the movie's three stars...Price, Lee and Cushing!  Even the distributor knew this was the primary draw when he wrote the tagline "Triple Distilled Horror...as powerful as a vat of boiling acid!”  Unfortunately, these three screen greats have precious little face-time together in this film.  In fact, Peter Cushing was hired for only one day's shooting and does not appear in any scene with the other two.  Vincent Price, terrific as the mad doctor bent on creating a master race, has the greatest amount of screen time but it's too little, too late.  The supporting cast does an admirable job with Marshall Jones delivering a frighteningly believable performance as the fatal Vulcan neck-pincher and the late Michael Gothard doing a first-rate job as the vampire cyborg.  If you have the patience to sit through the first two-thirds of the movie, you will be rewarded with the ending.

Happy birthday to scream-greats Peter (May 26), and Vincent and Christopher (May 27).


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