Marriage, Ghosts, Pregnancy… – And Now the Screaming Starts (1973)

In 1973, Amicus Productions would release And Now the Screaming starts to average reviews that were at least partly warranted. The story is decent, if not one that has been seen many times before on film, and the cast is excellent. It is the simple fact that at nearly an hour and a half long, at times it seems interminably long. While it is beautifully shot by Denys Coop and tied together expertly by director and Hammer mainstay Roy Ward Baker, not the only Hammer player to participate in the movie, despite how good it might be, it simply seems to drag itself out longer than perhaps it should have.

and now the screaming starts 18The story concerns a young wife who becomes pregnant and haunted by the family curse, one that has been passed down through the years. Starring Stephanie Beacham as Catherine Fengriffin, she starts seeing things and experiencing strange phenomena that makes her believe she might be going a little crazy, and yet the rest of the household, her husband included, know exactly what is going on, as vile, as sordid and impossible as it might seem. As previously stated, the picture is a little cliché, more than a little perhaps as many of the elements seen in this movie have been put to film quite a few times before and yet despite all of them and the movie’s lackadaisical pace, it is nevertheless enjoyable as a whole.

and now the screaming starts 22The film picks up when Peter Cushing enters the picture and after a number of people have been murdered for trying to help out poor Catherine who wants to be rid of her baby. Both Beacham and Cushing put in fantastic performances as doctor and patient respectively and the title is an apt one as Beacham is found screaming more than once throughout the movie at one apparition or another. Cushing is present as a psychologist, brought in to try and cure whatever it is that affects Catherine, not knowing that there is nothing that he can do. Cushing’s role is a small one, but a good one and he grounds the film with a level of seriousness to balance out the more horrific and otherworldly aspects that are found within. and now the screaming starts 27Herbert Lom, another actor who can be seen in many a Hammer film, also puts in a very memorable performance as the man who begat the curse all those years ago. With Ian Ogilvy, Geoffrey Whitehead and Patrick Magee rounding out the cast, the film never lacks for great actors.

The movie ends on a strong note with a haunting image of Catherine holding her baby, realizing the full import of what happened to her yet unable to overcome her maternal instincts no matter how much she might like to. And Now the Screaming Starts is not the greatest horror film you will ever see, nor is it even the best Amicus picture to be had, but it has a very eerie atmosphere about it and that, coupled with the performances of the impressive cast make it worth watching no matter what faults are to be had.

3 out of 5
and now the screaming starts 3

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