--And Now the Screaming Starts!
Film: --And Now the Screaming Starts!
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Writer: Roger Marshall
Starring: Peter Cushing, Herbert Lom and Patrick Magee
This film begins with a little bit of narration from the main character; she is played by Stephanie Beacham. She informs us that we are England in 1795. She is on the way to the estate of her fiancé, who is played by Ian Ogilvy. She also has her aunt accompanying her, played by Gillian Lind.
Upon arriving, she is given a tour by Ogilvy. There are paintings up of his ancestors all around the main hall. They go upstairs and there is one in particular she is draw to. It turns out that it is Ogilvy’s grandfather in the painting. Beacham continues to stare at it, until an apparition appears. The apparition is played by Geoffrey Whitehead. Whitehead does not have any eyes and a hand rips through the painting.
Beacham screams and flees from this. Ogilvy 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 of Beacham and Ogilvy. We get a scene where Beacham looks out the window and once again sees Whitehead. The window then breaks. There is something that happens here that does not get explained until later, but Beacham is raped by the ghost.
She continues to see this apparition. There is a point where she is getting intimate with Ogilvy and she sees Whitehead looking at her. Beacham tries to investigate what is happening to her. She asks her husband questions, but he is very quiet and tells her to stop worrying. There is a woodsman who is also played by Whitehead. She meets with him and he is very cryptic. It turns out that the ghost she is haunted by is Whitehead’s ancestor as well.
Beacham begins to seek out others to find out what is happening, which includes Ogilvy’s lawyer and one of the women that work in the house. Both of them turn up dead. The woman is played by Sally Harrison and she falls down the stairs. It is considered an accident or a possible suicide. The other is played Guy Rolfe and he is murdered in the woods with an axe.
We then learn that Beacham is with child and the local doctor is played by Patrick Magee. He speaks with Ogilvy and tells him that he must tell his wife about the curse that is on his family. Ogilvy doesn’t believe it and tells him not to upset his already near frantic wife. Lind decides with all of the deaths that they need to get out of the house, but she is killed by the severed hand.
Ogilvy goes to Whitehead and commands that he leave. Ogilvy states he will pay whatever it takes if Whitehead will just move off of the land and to leave his family alone. Whitehead refuses, telling him that he has no where to go and this is ancestral land. This angers Ogilvy even more.
Magee suggests they call in a doctor who is ahead of his time. He is really a psychiatrist and is played by Peter Cushing. He also begins to investigate into what the situation is, but no one will let him in on the curse either. Finally Magee breaks down, but as he tries to, the severed hand appears. He begins to tell the story and is killed for doing so.
Finally Ogilvy fills Cushing in on what is happening. We then get to see what played out between Ogilvy’s grandfather, who is played by Herbert Lom, and Whitehead’s ancestor. Being the lord, Lom used to have a lot of friends over and they would drink heavily. He learned that Whitehead was married and Lom decided to invoke his right to sleep with her as the lord of the area on their wedding night. Whitehead doesn’t like this and for him attacking Lom, his right hand was chopped off with an axe.
With the baby coming soon, will it be Ogilvy’s or Whitehead’s ghost? What will Ogilvy do if the baby is not his? Is there a curse or is Beacham freaked out by the house, her new surroundings and all the changes in her life? Can Cushing figure it out before it is too late?
I do have to admit that at first, I was really bored by this film, mostly because I didn’t know what was going on. Once I settled in and the film started to explain itself more, I started to like it more. I think the story of the curse and the curse itself is an interesting one. I have not seen a film like this before and found it to be interesting. I have to say that I really liked Beacham. I thought she was great looking and her portrayal was really good. I didn’t know if everything was in her head or not. Her descent into madness was great to see. Cushing and Rolfe are solid, but neither have enough time onscreen to do enough for me though. I also thought that Whitehead was great as the specter in this film too.
My biggest gripe is how slow this film took to get going. That really did hurt it for me, because I didn’t get why this young woman was being haunted. Once a little bit more got revealed, it brought me in, but I think the film needed more early on instead of just some scares. I also didn’t like that they went way too subtle on the rape of Beacham. I’m not asking for a violent portrayal, but it wasn’t until they showed the book of the demon impregnating the virgin did I realize what they were getting at. I also feel this film was hurt by not utilizing more Cushing and Rolfe, because these are two great actors.
With that said, I would only recommend giving this a viewing if you found this review to be interesting. The film isn’t all that bad, but I feel it was poorly executed. The story is actually pretty good, there are some solid scares and for the most part, the acting is well done. It is painfully slow for the story to get going, but the film does get the scares going early on. I would say to watch this if you are Cushing fan, but he doesn’t appear on screen until around the halfway point. I would still say this is a pretty good ghost/curse film though.
My Rating: 6 out of 10