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Composite beings, half-synthetic, half-human transplant. They live, they kill, but they cannot die. Only boiling acid will dissolve them, halt their unearthly lust.’ So went the promotional taglines on the posters of Scream and Scream Again – a bizarre, complex, surreal 1970s British feature which famously teamed up Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing for the first time – well, almost.

Here are things 20 things you must know about this most unusual sci-fi horror thriller co-production from genre favourites Amicus and American International Pictures (AIP).

1) Amicus’ Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg had a script entitled Screamer (by Subotsky) based on the 1967 pulpy trash magazine-type story The Disorientated Man by Peter Saxon, which dealt with an alien attempt to colonise the Earth using superhuman creatures assembled Frankenstein-style from murder victims.

2) Peter Saxon was originally the pen name of Sexton Blake novelist W. Howard Baker, but it came to be used by a number of writers working the same circuit, including Martin Thomas and Stephen Daniel Frances. The original novel was a collaborative effort between Frances and Baker.

3) Amicus scored a US$350,000 investment from AIP’s Sam Arkoff and Louis ‘Deke’ Heyward – but on the condition they use the same crew that worked on their previous feature, The Oblong Box – including its director Gordon Hessler, cinematographer John Coquillon and scriptwriter Christopher Wicking, and its stars Vincent Price and Christopher Lee.

4) Wicking felt the original story was a ‘perturbing vision of the future’ and its realistic violence of rape, murder, political terrorism, and torture gave him goosebumps – but Milton Subotsky’s script (which Hessler had asked him to write while Wicking was working his own) left him flat, ‘like watching a soufflé dying’. It was ‘Deke’ Heyward who had the final say and went with Wicking’s screenplay.

5) Hessler and Wicking decided on a Don Siegel-styled Coogan’s Bluff meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers, so they ditched the alien element that features in the novel and made genetic experimentation for political gain the central theme.

Click on this original lobby card to see the full set

6) Wicking also kept the novel’s original structure, which unfolds in a series of seemingly unrelated events – intrigue in a totalitarian foreign country, psycho-sex killings in London, and the amputation of the limbs of a jogger – which all have a link to Price’s cancer specialist Dr Browning and the machinations of a race of composite super-beings aiming to take over the world.

7) Filming commenced on 5 May 1969 at Shepperton Studios (the operating theatre set was originally constructed for Amicus’ The Mind of Mr. Soames), and its backlot (particularly a London street set, which can also be seen in 1968’s The Magnificent Six and a 1/2 Children’s Foundation series). It was also shot on location in Trafalgar Square (when Christopher Lee and Marshall Jones meet), Putney Common (the opening sequences as Nigel Lambert collapses while jogging), Barnes (Judy Huxtable’s murder at the railway scene and the police station), and Surrey (including Box Hill and Betchworth Quarry), before wrapping in early June.

8) For the film’s Busted Pot Disco scenes, the filmmakers used Hatchetts Playground nightclub at 67a Piccadilly, one of the happening clubs in the late 1960s which played host to the likes of Edwin Starr and Status Quo. It was opened from 1968 to 1978.

9) Welsh rockers Amen Corner, who scored a UK No. 1 hit with (If Paradise Is) Half as Nice also gigged at Hatchetts and composed two tracks for the film Scream and Scream Again and When We Make Love, which both ended up on their 1969 album, Farewell to the Real Magnificent Seven, after which they disbanded.

10) The film had its trade show in London on Tuesday, 20 January 1970. It was released on a double bill with Hells Angels 69 on Thursday, 29 January 1970. Warner Pathe released the film in the UK on Sunday, 8 February 1970 (according to the BFI), with the US following on 13 February, and it became AIP’s most successful film made in the UK until The Abominable Dr. Phibes

11) The reviews on both sides of the pond were mixed…

‘This farrago of horrific nonsense is a bit too complicated and mysterious to make a big impression’ Kine Weekly

‘A first-rate horror thriller with shock piling on shock in rapid succession and adroitly punctuated with humour. A real treat for the fans’ Today’s Cinema

‘Director Gordon Hessler is a low-budget, sadomasochistic Hitchcock’ Variety

‘…a superb piece of contemporary horror, a science fiction tale possessed of a credibility infinitely more terrifying than any of the Gothic witchery of Rosemary’s Baby’ Los Angeles Times

‘It’s appalling. Where was the moral censor?’ Penelope Mortimer (wife of Rumpole of the Bailey author, John).

12) The film’s funniest review comes from Price himself, who wittily mused: ‘I really don’t know what Scream and Scream Again was about – which Scream I was playing’.

Scream and Scream Again (1970)
Vincent Price clowns around on the set of Scream and Scream Again

13) In Germany, the film was released as Die lebenden Leichen des Dr. Mabuse (which translates as The Corpses of Dr. Mabuse) Given Price’s mad scientist’s similarities to the eponymous character created by Norbert Jacques and made famous in three movies by director Fritz Lang, it was a perfect fit. Accordingly, to Price, Lang loved the film so much he sought out Wicking to tell him personally that the film was ‘suspensefully developed’. (Cinefantastique, 1973)

Uta Levka looks like she’s the only one enjoying this PR stunt at Madame Tussauds with her co-stars Christopher Lee and Vincent Price in celebration of their birthdays (Uta 26 May, Vincent & Chris 27 May)

14) This first teaming of the three titans of terror, Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, was a disappointment for horror fans. Cushing was a last-minute cameo to help box office receipts and appears in a single three-minute, 11-second scene in which he gets a Vulcan death grip from Marshall Jones’ Konratz. Lee, playing the stiff-upper-lip man from the ministry, scores eight minutes, and he and Price have but one scene together lasting 50 seconds (but it’s a doozy).

15) The real stars of this Franken-sci-fi are future Bond villain Michael Gothard as Keith the vampire lothario (the removal of his own hand to escape his police handcuffs is a horror film classic moment), and comedian Alfred Marks as Detective Superintendent Bellaver, whose witty improvisations with lines like ‘That bloody chicken wasn’t killed, it died of old age’ was the perfect antidote to the film’s gritty violence.

16) The film’s big set piece is a wild police chase through suburban London streets and a quarry on the outskirts of Surrey.

17) The red sports car driven by Gothard’s ‘Vampire Killer’ is a 1955 Austin-Healey 100/4, while the police drive a 1965 Jaguar S-Types and a 1965 Austin 1800 MkI.

18) At the end of the film, Price’s misguided scientist is disposed of by Lee in a vat of acid through sheer willpower (something that was left over from the book but never explained in the film). In the US trailer, which has a big boo-boo listing Marshall as Peter Cushing, the scene is reversed, making it look like Vincent is rising from the dead.

It was a scene neither actor could take seriously, as Price remarked: ‘I’ll never forget that stately figure, desperately trying to keep a straight face, and me, too, stepping back slowly and with great dignity, and then quietly sinking into a deep vat of noxious looking liquid. But he never lost his composure. Of course, who would want to do that a second time?’

But they did, according to Lee: ‘I was very fond of Vincent and had great respect for his acting skills. However, the yellow tinge of the acid bath made it look like Vincent had suffered some terrible natural mishap on a grand scale, so the first take we did was completely ruined by our both laughing as we fought to the death’.

19) Vincent Price refused a stunt double for his acid bath death scene, and his nose was badly affected by the chemicals used – causing him to have problems with his nasal sinus for years afterwards.

20) The original US Theatrical cut trimmed three sequences, which became the version that most people remember as the UK cut went out of circulation for many years – until the recent release of the UK cut on Blu-ray (you can read all about it here), which includes those sequences originally. Meanwhile, when the film had its original home entertainment release on VHS and later DVD, it also suffered music-wise as the Amen Corner’s tracks were dubbed over with a Kendall Schmidt synth score.



About Post Author

The Curator

Peter Fuller is a award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.
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7 thoughts on “20 Things You Must Know About… Scream and Scream Again

  1. Fascinating! I knew a lot of people couldn’t understand ‘Scream & Scream Again’ but it always made perfect sense to me. Maybe it’s all the play with fractured narratives and mix of genres – ahead of its time? It’s a great cult movie.

  2. Did not care for the film when I saw it at a drive in theatre In 1970.
    Thought the rock sound track did not fit the film.
    Over the years I have gotten to like the film much better.


  3. I was living near Chertsey, Surrey in 1969 and as a 9 year old went along to the set where they were filming . I had just missed seeing Cushing and Lee as their coach drove away. However, I did meet Alfred Marks, who picked me up off the ground by my shirt collar and said ‘Are you scared of me boy?” To the amusement of the camera crew. Got a signed autograph. Oddly enough just prior to his passing in 1996’ I again met him in Wolverhampton when he appeared in the stage production of ‘An Inspector calls’.

    1. What a great memory. Alfred Marks really made that movie. As a film location fan myself I would love to know what street the filming took place. I suspect it was the scene in which Mark’s character arrives at the police station. If you have any info then do let me know. All best, Peter (Curator, Vincent Price Legacy UK)

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