And Now the Screaming Starts!
and now the screaming starts! | roy ward baker | roger marshall | peter cushing | herbert lom | patrick magee | united kingdom | ghost | haunted | haunted house | haunting | curse | stephanie beacham | ian ogilvy | geoffrey whitehead | period piece | amicus | guy rolfe
Film: --And Now the Screaming Starts!
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Writer: Roger Marshall
Starring: Peter Cushing, Herbert Lom and Patrick Magee
This film was my first foray into Amicus horror. What is interesting is that this is different from most they put out. I originally saw this one when working through The Horror Show Guide encyclopedia. I’ve now given this a rewatch as part of my Traverse through the Threes as well.
Synopsis: England, 1795: the young Catherine (Stephanie Beacham) has just married Charles Fengriffen (Ian Oglivy) and moves into his castle. She becomes the victim of an old curse that lies on the family. On her wedding night she is raped by a ghost and becomes pregnant.
We start this narration with Catherine. She sets up the time and place that is in the synopsis for us as the viewer. She is on the way to the estate of her fiancé, Charles. She also has her aunt accompanying her, Edith (Gillian Lind).
Upon arriving, she is given a tour by Charles. There are paintings of his ancestors all around the main hall. They go upstairs and there is one she is drawn to. It is of Charles’ grandfather Henry (Herbert Lom). Catherine is entranced by it. She stares until an apparition appears. The apparition doesn’t have eyes and a hand comes from the painting. This freaks her out. She screams and flees. Charles calms her down and brings her back to the painting. We see that it is completely intact. They walk down the hallway together and the camera shows us a severed hand that is trying to follow them down the hallway.
We then shift to the wedding day. We get a scene where Catherine looks out the window and once again sees this ghost. The window then breaks. There is something that happens here that does not get explained until later, but it is from the synopsis. This ghost rapes Catherine.
She continues to see this apparition. There is a point where she is getting intimate with Charles and sees it looking at her. She tries to investigate what is happening to her. She asks her husband questions, but he is very quiet and tells her not to worry. There is a woodsman by the name of Silas (Geoffrey Whitehead) who lives on the property. She meets with him and he is very cryptic. The ghost looks just like him. We learn later it is his ancestor.
Catherine is with child and this makes Charles happy. She doesn’t feel well though. A Dr. Whittle (Patrick Magee) is called in to look at her as well as a Dr. Pope (Peter Cushing). The former can’t find anything wrong with her. The latter wonders if there is a mental disorder. What agitates her more is that anyone who tries to help her escape dies. Catherine knows there is something supernatural happening, but her husband laughs it off. There are things he’s not sharing and we see this play out from the past.
That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I want to start is with something I brought up about Amicus. They were known for their anthology horror films. This is them trying to do a period piece to contend with Hammer, who specialized in these. I don’t know if it fully works. There are things that aren’t implied enough. I do think the year this came out is part of the reason there.
Where I’ll start is the positives. This is a solid period piece. It feels like the era that it is set. I like the gothic feel to the story. What is interesting is that the ghost here is a villain. A good thing though is that we see they’re bad for a good reason. The villain here is Henry and what he did to Silas’ grandfather. Charles isn’t bad outside of not believing his wife. The victims in all this is Catherine and Sarah (Sally Harrison). She was married to Silas’ grandfather. A problem I have is that the ghost isn’t doing anything for good. It is getting its revenge on an innocent. I don’t truly feel that Henry is punished, since he’s passed away by this point. This is just a problematic revenge to me.
There isn’t a lot to this story so I’ll need to pull in other elements to delve into. What is interesting is the acting. We have stars here that would work with Hammer making cameos here. Before getting to them, Beacham and Ogilvy are good as the stars. The panic and terror that Beacham shows is great. I feel horrible for her. Ogilvy is someone I don’t like for his lack of caring to be honest. I liked seeing Cushing, Lom, Magee and Guy Rolfe here. I’ll also credit Whitehead, Lind, Harrison and the rest of the cast as well.
Lastly then would be filmmaking. I do think that this is well made. The castle is a great setting. I can feel the history there and if any place would be haunted, it is ones like this. The cinematography is fine. That doesn’t do a lot to stand out to me. The effects are limited. What they do with ghosts are good. These are superimposed or just having them behind a window. The chopped off hand is fine. I should say the makeup for the specters was creepy. Other than that, the soundtrack and design of this was fine without necessarily standing out to me.
In conclusion, I do think that this is a solid period piece from Amicus. What I find interesting is that for gothic tales, ghosts are usually good or trying to reveal things. This film features an array of characters who are different shades of grey aside from the victims. It does become problematic on who to root for though. The acting is good. Aside from the cameos, Beacham was a bright spot for me. This is also made well enough. I did like the makeup for the ghosts leading there. Not a great film. I can only recommend it to those who like this era of cinema and period pieces.
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10