7/10
Wild, weird, and mean
26 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I originally was under the impression that this was a "Hammer" studio production (due to the participation of Lee and Cushing), but it turns out to be the product of rival studio, "Amicus", who also turned out at least one other interestingly weird horror/science hybrid called "Horror Express", which featured SPOILER ALERT

Yetis from outer space



End SPOILER

I bailed out of "Scream" the first time I tried to watch it because it seemed to be just too grim, cold, and mean-spirited for the mood I was in. But a later, successful viewing confirmed that while my initial impression was justified, the movie turned out to be both more AND less grim and mean-spirited than I first thought...not so much a "death march", but more of a "mazurka" where the participants routinely get their skulls crushed. No, really.

For instance, the title song for the soundtrack is performed in a (ahem) "swinging" discotheque by a groovy "Mod" band, but it's not about murder, it's about, well, yelling and partying at the top of your lungs. But at the same time, the "Vampire Killer" is stalking his prey among the various revelers, so the double entendre actually lends a mordant irony to the proceedings. Then the police chase the VK all over the city and countryside for more than 10 minutes of screen time in a very energetic, "see-saw" series of events (including one where the VK pulls his own forearm off to escape the handcuffs), only to end the chase by jumping in a vat of acid (!)

BTW, that vat of acid shows up a LOT in the 2nd half of the film, because that's the kind of film this is - it seems like half the cast eventually ends up jumping or being pushed into it.

The whole movie is like that. People are casually and brutally murdered and/or vivisected through the course of the screenplay, but the engine of the plot isn't serial killers and torturers, but rather a conspiracy of cyborgs who are murdering their way into positions of power across the globe. Peter Cushing is in here for about 5 minutes, and then his character is casually killed off. Vincent Price is the "mad scientist" who turns out to be creating the cyborgs by cutting body parts off unwilling"volunteers", but his character seems somewhat befuddled and confused. Christopher Lee is in about 4 scenes for 10 minutes, and while his character seems to be integral to the plot, his motivations are never clear, and he doesn't seem to be the least bit happy about things, just grim and driven. The real "star" of the proceedings turns out to be the police inspector in charge of the investigation, and he's bright, and funny, and no-nonsense, but 3/4 of the way through, HE gets bumped off.

And then with the only likable and effective character gone, you assume that Evil will triumph in some sort of Grand Guignol apocalypse, only to have half the bad guys turn on the other half and almost everyone ends up in the aforementioned acid bath. So...the good guys win... Yaaay? Well, sort of, but not really.

A truly convoluted and complicated movie that makes up in atmosphere what it lacks in forward momentum. Worth seeing if you like that idea.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink

Recently Viewed