Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 175: Sunday June 26

Cat People (Tourneur, 1942) & Scream and Scream Again (Hessler, 1969):
Roxy Bar and Screen, 128-132 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1LB, 3pm

This superb double-bill has been organised by the Classic Horror Campaign, a presure group trying its best to get horror films back on our TV screens. You can find out more about them via this Facebook page.

After meeting Sarah James and Richard Gladman of the Classic Horror Campaign at the Roxy on Sunday I was intrigued to discover more about Scream and Scream Again, a film which I did see thanks to a late-night television screening, but which unfortunately was over 20 years ago.

For those interested David Pirie writes about the work of Scream and Scream Again's director Gordon Hessler in his groundbreaking book A Heritage of Horror. Pirie was especially taken with the film and wrote in his volume in the mid-1970s: "Hessler is one of the few British directors who could be said to have evolved an unmistakable style in the course of his first two major films and it is scarcely surprising that Fritz Lang – one of the masters of the thriller – should have been so impressed by Scream and Scream Again that he singled it out for special praise in a recent interview."

Film devotees will know plenty about Jacques Tourneur's highly influential Cat People, a superb example of the director's subtle work in the thriller/horror genre. Scream and Scream Again is precisely not subtle but is a real find, as bizzare a film as you are likely to see all year. The least known in advance the better but there are numerous pleasures here not least the fact that Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Vincent Price are all in one and the same movie. Without doubt the highlight of the week.

Chicago Reader review of Cat People:

Like most people with a cat phobia, Val Lewton, the legendary producer of RKO's horror cycle, was fascinated by them. His first film (1942), eerily directed by Jacques Tourneur, is dedicated to his fetish. Based on a wholly fabricated Serbian legend about medieval devil worship, Cat People describes the effects of this legend on the mind of a New York fashion designer (Simone Simon) who believes herself descended from a race of predatory cat women. More a film about unreasoning fear than the supernatural, this work demonstrates what a filmmaker can accomplish when he substitutes taste and intelligence for special effects.





Time Out review of Scream and Scream Again:

'An impressive if somewhat fragmented horror film in which mad scientist Price uses surgery and organ transplants to create a super race of emotionless creatures, one of which (Gothard) attracts the attentions of the police by going berserk and committing a number of grisly vampiric murders. The underlying narrative thread about the creatures taking over positions of authority is not sufficiently well developed to have any real impact, but individual scenes are conceived to gory and striking effect.' Nigel Floyd


Here is the trailer for Scream and Scream Again

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