And Now The Screaming Starts

And Now The Screaming Starts (1973)
Image Entertainment
Cast: Stephanie Beacham, Ian Ogilvy, Herbert Lom
Extras: Commentary Track, Trailer, Still Gallery

’And Now the Screaming Starts’ comes from Amicus, and represents one of their attempts to recreate the gothic magic that had been so successful at Hammer Studios. And while the film is lousy with gothic atmosphere, its meandering story will alienate most viewers. As the film opens, we are told that the story is a dream (although this idea is never revisited) and introduced to young Catherine, who has come to the Fengriffen estate to marry Charles Fengriffen (Ian Ogilvy) and become the lady of the house. But, things go awry almost immediately. Catherine begins to have visions of a disembodied hand and an eyeless ghoul. Charles is sympathetic to her, but he appears to be hiding something, as does everyone else in the house. When Catherine’s episode increase in frequency, Charles sends for psychiatrist Dr. Pope (Peter Cushing) for help. As Pope attempts to help poor Catherine, he too becomes curious as to what secrets the Fengriffen family is hiding and discovers that Catherine may be the target of a fiendish curse.

’And Now the Screaming Starts’ has all of the elements to make a great gothic horror film. The interior sets of the Fengriffen house are great and the presence of genre vet Cushing, as well as Herbert Lom and Patrick Magee in smaller roles, help the film tremendously. But, the storyline and the surprisingly lackluster direction from Roy Ward Baker (who did a much better job with Amicus’ ’Asylum’) zap any energy from the film. The idea of a Fengriffen family secret is set up quite early, but the movie waits far too long to reveal it (even though it’s unveiled at the beginning of the third act). Before (and after that), the movie is simply a series of false starts, as we watch Catherine have one ’scary’ experience after another. And the hand, which figures so prominently in the film’s advertising, is scarcely seen in the film, not to mention the fact that the make-up on the eyeless man looks quite fake. Goth completists may enjoy ’And Now the Screaming Starts’, but all others should start looking for a scarier movie.

Image Entertainment hands over this film on DVD as part of its ’Euroshock Collection’. The film is has been letterboxed at 1.85:1, but is not a 16×9 transfer. It is clear that a theatrical print was used for this transfer, so there are several overt scratches and other defects. Otherwise, the image is sharp and clear, and the colors are quite good. The framing appears to be accurate and there is little artifacting here. The Dolby Digital Mono audio track provides clean dialogue and nice musical reproduction, but there is a slightly audible hiss on the track.

This DVD features an audio commentary with star Ian Ogilvy and film historian Darren Gross. This is a fun chat, as Ogilvy provides many interesting anecdotes concerning the film’s production, while Gross chimes in with thought-provoking questions and bits of trivia. The theatrical trailer for ’And Now the Screaming Starts’ is included here, as well as a still gallery.