Blu-ray Review: Scream and Scream Again - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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Put Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing in the same film and provocatively title it Scream and Scream Again? Perfect recipe for a horror classic, right? Not exactly. This 1970 Gordon Hessler-directed relic plays like some drunken film editor's assemblage of random scenes. It's a bizarre mixture of political intrigue, chaotic action, with hints of sci-fi and horror. A genre-bending exercise, to be sure—based on a novel by Peter Saxon called The Disoriented Man. You're likely to be equally disoriented after witnessing this 90-minute hash of ideas. Purely as an oddity that features three icons of old school horror, Scream and Scream Again does have a cult following that will surely appreciate Twilight Time's brand new Blu-ray edition. It's limited to 3,000 copies.

A strange tone is immediately set as we watch a man jogging through London, the frame freezing for every opening credit. David Whitaker's jauntily blaring score definitely helps establish the then-contemporary period feel, but it feels like we're watching some hazy, dream-state version of an Austin Powers credits sequence. It almost looks and sounds like it should be fun, but something's off. The jogger is clearly in some distress. Before we know it, he collapses. His plight, which unfolds slowly during brief hospital bed scenes (tended to by a garishly made-up nurse), is easily the film's most horrific element. 
Scream and Scream Again BD rs.png Otherwise, this scattershot, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink thriller concerns a neo-Nazi group that goes around administering fatal Vulcan neck-pinches and a serial killer whose female victims have been curiously drained of blood. There's also an extended car chase sequence that plays like something out of a broad farce. In the opening credits, someone is even special billed for supervising this interminable car chase. I don't recall who it was and it really doesn't matter—this car chase isn't exactly of William Friedkin caliber (well, Jade-level maybe, just not French Connection).

Why no mention of the horror trifecta of Price, Lee, and Cushing? They're present mainly for marketing purposes, with Cushing in particular phoning in a very brief cameo. Price has the most fun with a creepy role as Dr. Browning, while Lee makes little impression as a high-ranking British government official. Hessler seems to be cruising along with little idea of what story is being told under his direction. It's all very odd and it kind of manages to come together much more neatly than expected in the final act. Whether it's worth the confusion it takes to get there will definitely vary greatly from viewer to viewer. 
Scream and Scream Again booklet rs.png How does Scream and Scream Again look on Blu-ray? Dutch cinematographer John Coquillon did a lot of phenomenal work with Sam Peckinpah, almost immediately following Scream Again in fact. So you want his work to look top notch here. For the most part it looks acceptably decent. There's a fair amount of source print flaws that provide a semi-regular distraction (white specs, black specs, occasional scratches). I've not seen the previous DVD edition, so I've no point of comparison. Black levels are a bit on the weaker side, but clarity overall is generally strong. The DTS-HD MA mono soundtrack is free of any issues.

As for special features, the disc sports a pretty robust lineup. David Del Valle and Tim Sullivan offer their film historians' perspective on a feature-length commentary. There's also the vintage piece "Gentleman Gothic: Gordon Hessler at AIP" and an interview with cast member Uta Levka. David Whitaker's score is presented as an isolated track. A radio spot and theatrical trailer round things out.

Again, Scream and Scream Again is strictly limited to 3,000 units. For ordering information, visit Twilight Time's official distributor Screen Archives.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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