Following the fundamental rules of the 18th-century gothic ghost story, And Now the Screaming Starts! is slow moving but frequently lurid. Don’t be fooled by the disembodied hand on the poster; this one isn’t about a creeping phantom hand sneaking up on people and strangling them (though that does happen to several of the unlucky victims herein). An invisible phantom spirit lurking within a cursed family mansion rapes Catherine (Stephanie Beacham) on her wedding night, and as her petulant husband (Ian Ogilvy) seeks the aid and advice of various doctors and specialists, it becomes increasingly clear that they are suffering for the sins of their ancestors. The dead bodies pile up around them as the supporting cast is dispatched in various ways, with the maid getting pushed down the stairs by an invisible force (accompanied by a vivid, spiraling-out-of-control sound design) in a standout sequence. In addition to the evil hand, Catherine is assailed by roving dogs, nightmare visions of a skulking eyeless peasant, and her own shrieking hysteria. Though Peter Cushing is top-billed as a kindly psychiatrist who uses Sherlock Holmes-style deductions against the supernatural foe, Beacham commands the picture as a prim Victorian scream queen who falls apart, with a larger than life performance that might best be described as “voluptuous horror.”
- 90 min
- Roy Ward Baker
- Robert Marshall, David Case
- Peter Cushing, Herbert Lom, Patrick Magee, Stephanie Beacham, Ian Ogilvy
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