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Scream and Scream Again: reviews

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Jan. 15th, 1970 | 01:00 pm

Benjamin Halligan in "Michael Reeves."

"In Scream and Scream Again, a psychotic clone, Keith (played by the reliably psychotic Michael Gothard), rampages through London nightclubs, part way to A Clockwork Orange or The Final Programme, the Amen Corner grooving through When We Make Love on a tiny corner stage like cut-price Stones.

Keith drives the girls he picks up on to Hampstead Heath in his MG, where he rapes and murders them. He is a Frankenstein creature, fascinated by his ability to squeeze the life from the human form yet, in his garb, this tendency is lent the ethos of no-holds-barred hippie hedonism.

He possessed the same blankness in the face of violence as Richard Burton’s lone Kray in Villain; a Hitchcockian visual metaphor—murder as sex, violence as sexual frenzy.

The Heath shots are day-for-night—a jarring darkness at noon—and are oppressive and unreal; the light of his world repulses, as it might to a depressive…. In its pervasive hopelessness and nihilism, its corrupt state apparatus and constant brutality, the high-speed car chase and the rejection of any sense of freedom, it is a film haunted by Mike. [Reeves]

Ageing German expressionist master Fritz Lang saw something in it too, perhaps an introduction to the new Zeitgeist, and outlandishly heaped praise upon it; perhaps Lang felt a frisson of the Weimar Republic days in the death of the 1960s and the film connected the two in its distant echoes of Lang’s own 1930s work—pulp Fascism, secret states and scientific progress for a new, madder God."

"Michael Reeves" by Benjamin Halligan. Manchester University Press, 2003.

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David Pirie in “A New Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic.”

"The film’s script therefore had no official hero or heroine but it did boast a modern vampire sex killer, and what seems to be the first full-on dark ending in the history of UK horror. The sequence in which the police track down the humanoid vampire (superbly played by Michael Gothard) has a wonderful pace and style, making it scarcely surprising that Fritz Lang—one of the masters of the thriller—should have been so impressed that he singled Scream and Scream Again out for special praise in one of his last interviews. But then the film revolutionized the story structure of the whole English horror genre, having a complexity we had never seen before."

A New Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic, by David Pirie. I. B. Tauris; new edition 2008.

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Tom Johnson and Mark A. Miller in “The Christopher Lee Filmography.”

"The real stars of this film are Alfred Marks and Michael Gothard. … As the brutal vampire-killer, Michael Gothard projects an out-of-control, psychopathic quality that is cold and ugly and not easily forgotten.

Remarkably, he performed all of his dangerous stunts himself. He fell ten feet from a beam, rolled part way down a rocky quarry, and allowed himself to be pulled up the side of this same steep quarry by a steel cable to give the effect that he was running up it with his super strength. Gothard’s dedication gives this film much of its punch because, according to both Heyward and Hessler, 'this was the only way the stunts could have been included because of the low budget.'"

Christopher Lee Filmography: all theatrical releases, 1948-2003, by Tom Johnson and Mark A. Miller, McFarland & Co., 2004.

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From: “Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Producers, and Writers of the 1940s through 1960s."

Interview with executive producer, Louis M. Heyward.

"I felt that Michael Gothard was going to be the biggest thing that ever happened. He had that insane look and that drive, and he was wonderful. Here is a kid who really threw himself into the picture wholeheartedly. Do you remember the scene where he appears to be walking up the cliff? That's a stunt that, as an actor, I would not have agreed to; I'd say, 'Hey, get a double or get a dummy. I ain't either one.' But the kid agreed to do it, without a double--he was that driven. He had a lot of class and a lot of style. Gordon [Hessler, Alfred Hitchcock's protege] came up with the idea of using an overhead cable to give that illusion of his walking up the cliff."

(Weaver, Tom, Brunas Michael and Brunas, John. Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Producers, and Writers of the 1940s through 1960s. page 176)

Note: Perhaps this is what Michael’s friend from the 1980s, Sean McCormick, meant, when he said that: “He [Michael] took great delight in telling stories of movie-making hell, from “Scream and Scream Again …”

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Kim Newman in “Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s.”

The Living Dead of Scream and Scream Again are an underground organization of supermen, cobbled together Frankenstein-fashion from the choicest body-snatched parts available and conspiring to take over the world. Their numbers include: Keith (Michael Gothard), a malfunctioning cool cat who vampires teenagers he picks up in a disco and, as John R. Duvoli wrote, "looks like Mick Jagger after a bad trip."

Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s, by Kim Newman, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2001.

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Charlie Albertson in “Movies You Should See.”

Michael Gothard has the moves like Jagger and the looks too and is oddly sympathetic as the “Vampire” killer, making his escape from handcuffs in a truly memorable way.

Movies You Should See, by Charlie Albertson, 2012.

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Online reviews:

Mark Iveson on Shadowlocked’s list of 10 actors who achieved cult villainy on the strength of one movie.


A film that deserves its cult status for its strange mishmash of horror themes and genres – vampire killings, human composites created by a mad scientist, the rise of a dangerous new political power run by aliens. Throw in a police investigation into the vampire murders and all the weird strands are linked together …

The most exciting part of the film centres on the vampire killer Keith, played with raw energy by Michael Gothard. Sporting long hair and a flash frilly shirt, he is a handsome but intense young man who violently preys on the pretty young girls he picks up around the trendy London nightclubs. He is also one of the human cyborgs gone wrong.

Once apprehended by the law he puts a few coppers in hospital before being handcuffed to the back of a police car. In the film’s most memorable scene he frees himself by yanking off his own hand! Gothard’s striking performance sticks in the mind but somehow British films failed to make use of his distinctive talents. Despite good performances in The Devils (1970), The Four Musketeers (1974) and For Your Eyes Only (1981), Gothard never got the stardom he deserved.

Full review

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Fernando F. Croce on Notebook Digital Magazine.

It should come as no surprise to learn that Fritz Lang in his twilight years declared his admiration for Scream and Scream Again, as Gordon Hessler’s 1970 British shocker plays like a veritable anthology of themes and images from the Teutonic master’s oeuvre.

[And in the comments, from a David Ehrenstein:] “Scream and Scream Again” is indeed wonderful, particularly for the running vivisection gag and the great performance by Michael Gothard — Britian’s answer to Pierre Clementi. It’s his finest hour next to “The Devils.”

Full review

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George R. Reis on DVD Drive-in.

"Michael Gothard is also well cast (looking somewhat like the Mick Jagger of Altamont ) as the humanoid "vampire killer" Keith, stalking and mutilating women in fashionable mod England."

Full review

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Breakfast in the Ruins.

And as to the killer – well he’s quite a piece of work too. In scenes eerily reminiscent of a number of later British horrors, Michael Gothard stalks around a seedy faux-psychedelic nightclub (a brief shot of the doorway reveals that it's named ‘The Busted Pot’) as pop-psyche combo Amen Corner perform in the background (their overblown Shel Talmy-produced theme song for the movie is a hoot). Reeling in naïve girls (Judy Huxtable amongst them) with his Byronic charm, he zooms them off to isolated spots in his Jag, where blood-curdling unpleasantness ensues.

All this leads up to what’s generally regarded as the film’s highlight – a protracted action set-piece that sees the super-powered and apparently unstoppable Gothard fleeing from the combined forces of the British constabulary, screeching down the motorway, scattering coppers like ninepins, charging on foot through a convenient home counties forest like “..some bionic Mick Jagger”, as Jonathan Rigby puts it in his book ‘English Gothic’, and even finding a gruesome new method of escape when he’s finally handcuffed to a car bumper after a dramatic showdown in a chalk quarry.

Impressively staged and edited, this is all pretty frantic, high octane stuff ...

Full review

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Heathblair on IMDB.

The casting is astute. The late Michael Gothard makes a good, eerie cyborg psychopath as he prowls groovy London discotheques in search of party-girls whom just assume he's a good-looking guy with a fast car and an Austin Powers shirt. Of course, the reality is more gruesome, and he is soon savagely murdering them and sucking their blood - although exactly why he has vampiric tendencies is, typically, never explained. With his turns in that other super-trash magnum opus, Lifeforce, and Ken Russell's brilliant The Devils, I'm surprised Gothard doesn't have more of a cult following.

Review on IMDB

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Beardy Freak.

"Thankfully Alfred Marks (as a no-nonsense, straight-talking Police detective) gives a truly gorgeous performance and has some great dialogue to throw out. His random rant about the state of the Police station sandwiches is everyday situation comedy gold decades before Tarantino.

He's backed up by the ever welcome (if ultimately tragic ...) Michael Gothard ("The Devils") as the bizarre, superhuman, vampire style, serial killer.

But there's something just not right in seeing Gothard boogying on the dance-floor in a 70's disco!

Full review

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Uncredited reviewer:

"But it is in "Scream and Scream Again" that film buffs were struck by Gothard. In this fantastic modern tale, very reminiscent of Fritz Lang, Gothard plays a weird character, a vampire with fabulous power, created by Vincent Price. During the course of a long chase across the English countryside, beautifully filmed by director Gordon Hessler, he cuts off his hand and dies in a vat of acid."

Quote taken from Michael Gothard Tribute Site

Thanks to Tzaratango for finding most of these reviews.

NB. The car driven by Keith is neither an MG nor Jag, but an Austin-Healey.

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