You'd think a film boasting the combined talents of Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, and my main man Christopher Lee would be an absolute classic, right? Behold the monumental disappointment that is Gordon Hessler's 'Scream and Scream Again'.
In what is a rather complicated and lifeless story, we have mad scientist Price as a member of a supposed New World Order of fascists experimenting with various human body parts and gene restructuring methods (with apparent weekend classes teaching the Vulcan neck pinch, it seems) in the hopes of creating a race of perfect people. Michael Gothard is one such result of these experiments, a blood-sucking loon (what? you were afraid this wasn't a horror film? More on that later) who escapes to prey on way-out 70s chicks at a local nightclub, with the local Bobbies (led by Alfred Marks) having to piece everything together and stop these modern Nazis (their insignia is a dead giveaway) from taking over the world.
First thing's first. If you are watching this film to see three Horror greats acting up a storm together, you'd best get rid of those ideas. Price gets a reasonable amount of screen time, but appears either lethargic or disinterested, a real shame given the ham and cheese specials he can almost always be counted upon to deliver. Lee's role as the head of British Intelligence is potentially the most interesting and complex in the film, but he's in and out of the film frequently, the character not adequately developed. And poor Cushing, as a high-ranking fascist who appears more polite and less brutal than most, is barely glimpsed at all. It's a great cameo (probably the best scene in the entire film), but it is just that, a cameo. And sadly, the rest of the cast just don't cut it in terms of talent or presence, despite a cameo by 'Lust for a Vampire' hottie Yutte Stensgaard (And in case you are wondering, despite featuring several Hammer players the film was produced by Amicus, a normally reliable company, though I saw an MGM release).
The film's main problems are, however, a complicated narrative and a horribly slow, uninteresting development of the plot. This film takes forever to get going, and quite often fails to adequately explain itself, and above all else, never finds the niche it seems to be searching for. Hybrids can occasionally be fun, but this mix of spy flick, mad scientist film, vampire flick, cop flick and 70s go-go dancing flick never manages to work.
There's an extended police chase sequence for instance, around the 50 minute mark which takes up an incredibly large chunk of running time, and looks better suited to an episode of 'The Bill' or 'The Professionals' and it most certainly does not fit with all the Nazi experiments stuff.
Add to all this a typically jazzy 70s score by David Whitaker that screams of 'Starsky and Hutch', and you've got one very weird film. Weird in this case, however, does not equal interesting. There are moments here and there, and apparently Fritz Lang liked the film, but you're not likely to get much out of it. It was never going to be very satisfying (the only link between the actors involves Price and Lee and it's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it-shared-scene), given that aside from a few severed limbs and a vampire dude, the film hardly seems like horror at all (with this cast, wouldn't that be a pre-requisite?), but that overlong chase scene definitely sends the film to hell in a handbasket, never to return.
Not abominable, but fans will feel cheated with this slow-moving, complicated film which never ties everything together and wastes time with unnecessary police chases. Call it 'The Bill' on acid, It's definitely a disappointment.