Celebrating Christopher Lee – Scream and Scream Again (1970)
With this post, I celebrate the great Christopher Lee with a crappy 1970s movie, which might seem disrespectful, but you’d be wrong! In fact, I was anticipating this movie a great deal, seeing as it has every single one of my favorite old-school Hammer horror stars: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and his pal Vincent Price. Many horror tropes have been made famous by this movie, such as when a man wakes up in a hospital bed to find his legs amputated, which has been done again several times in other films and television. The movie itself is incomprehensible, but that’s okay, because seeing Vincent Price and Christopher Lee again is good enough for me. Almost.
This movie paints itself as a thriller, but it’s a science fiction film in disguise. It has elements of political intrigue, police procedure, weirdo medical horror, and vampires, but doesn’t really do any of them very well. Vincent Price ushers in the weirdo medical horror bit, as he plays a weirdo medical doctor using a weirdo medical experiment to create supermen to Take Over the World ™. Of course, he has altruistic delusions for his stupid experiments, but the backstory to all this is never told. In fact, the explanations found in this paragraph are not given until the final ten minutes of the film, which makes the whole thing pretty confusing.
Christopher Lee plays this super political secret agent or something, and his group faces off against Vincent Price and the medical weirdos chopping up people to assemble their supermen. They don’t really face off against each other until the end, which is unfortunate, but Lee dispatches Price with the power of his Dracula Gaze ™. Yeah, I’m not making this up. Lee squints at Vincent Price and forces him into a vat of acid simply by looking at him strongly, which is a hilariously awesome moment. I can see why this movie has achieved a high cult status.
I can see the allegory in this movie, but I’m not sure how to explain it. I guess I’ll have to think about it for a while, because the movie isn’t all that concerned with spelling things out, much less the hidden meanings or metaphors in the script. It obviously has themes about totalitarian governments and the misuse of science, both of which are painted as good and evil. Christopher Lee serving the people is a good example of this, even though he’s seemingly part of the conspiracy to create supermen too. The whole thing may be a warning that government needs to police itself, which is why Lee offs Vincent Price at the end, even though they’re part of the same political group.
Beyond the allegory, I like the colors, the environments, and the acting isn’t TOO bad. The highlight of the movie is the car chase scene. The police chase down one of the supermen, who is driving a 60s Ferrari or Porsche looking car, which has this amazing salmon pink color. It’s pretty nice. There are other little touches of ambiance and color throughout the movie, and Vincent Price’s laboratory looks especially classic.
Overall, this is a cult hit only really watchable if you enjoy amusing b-movies or any of the stars. Most of them are not in it for very long, which makes their title billing kinda deceptive. Peter Cushing himself is killed off early in the movie for no reason. Pretty silly. But that’s what this movie is filled with. Silly stuff, like a guy who can rip his forearm in half to escape handcuffs. Generally, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Vincent Price do their best to hold up a stupid script.