Friday, February 10, 2017

Scream Bloody Murder (1973)



Marc B. Ray
Larry Alexander


Fred Holbert
Leigh Mitchell
Robert Knox
Ron Bastone
Suzette Hamilton
Willey Reynolds
Florence Lea
Angus Scrimm
Cecil Reddick


Matthew is an incredibly disturbed young boy. Without any warning or reason, Matt ends up hopping on a tractor that his father is standing in front of and runs him over which ends up killing him. In the process, he manages to have his own hand crushed by the tractor. Now, as an adult, Matthew has been released from the mental hospital that he was placed in as a child and is fitted with a hook for a hand. Still a disturbed man, Matthew will go on a bloody and murderous rampage.

As I sat down and began to watch Scream Bloody Murder, I got an immediate sinking feeling in my stomach. It was the exact same feeling that I got when I had started to watch Three On A Meathook. It was immediately clear that I was about to witness a film that was shot on an incredibly low budget. I have no issues with micro-budget horror movies, I just like to be able to see what I'm watching when I venture down the path. I knew straight away that this was going to be a struggle to get through. At this point, my mood was already set.

Scream Bloody Murder starts off right away. There are no build-ups or introductions. We open on a shot of farm land and see a young boy jump on a tractor and run over his father. We also see him crush his own hand in the process. The titles appear over the young boy screaming in agony. It's a pretty gruesome way to open a film, and I knew exactly what I was going to get with this slasher movie. The was going to be a psychosexual and trashy seventies exploitation flick.

We cut to a decade or two later and see that Matthew is now being released from the mental institution. He also has a hook for one of his hands. This bloke also has some significant mommy issues. Within minutes of meeting a now adult Matthew and see him reconnect with his mother and her new husband, things go south very quickly. In a matter of minutes, we know that he doesn't like woman expressing their sexuality or any men touching them. He kills her new husband with an axe and also finishes off his own mother. Cue the murderous road trip.

From this point on, we see Matthew come across couples who he brutally murders when the men get a bit hands on with their girlfriends or wives. Cue the colourful psychological breakdown scenes of him seeing his mother in their place. Dogs, old ladies, and even lovely housekeepers are dispatched in gruesome ways. The movie becomes pretty repetitive with its plot beats. We have an introduction then a murder, introduction, murder. Once Matthew believes he's found his friend in a money making prostitute, we know where things will end up.

The movie's third act ends in Matthew taking our prostitute captive. He doesn't want her to sell herself and offers her the world. She's a woman who enjoys sex and likes the money. This is where things get really complicated, and it ends in this somewhat crazed mental breakdown. I found Scream Bloody Murder to be pretty mean-spirited if anything. There isn't all that much of a story going on, and it's precisely what the movie's poster states, it's gore-nography. Nothing more and nothing less.

I mentioned at the beginning of my review that the quality of this movie was pretty unwatchable. The quality of film stock is downright terrible. For the entire running time, it was hard to see what was happening. If it was difficult to tell what was going on in the daytime scenes, imagine what it was like during the nighttime scenes. It's just a really poorly made movie. This probably all falls back on the micro-budget of the film. Maybe if the film ever gets released by Arrow Video and they do some restoration work, it might be an improvement.

I think the things that worked in Scream Bloody Murder is the violence. Back in 1973, I could see this causing a stir with censors. This is extremely mean-spirited. There is no real remorse for the killings. It's pretty brutal. I think this may have come out at a time when all those rape and revenge films hit the multiplexes. I think the version I saw may have even been edited? I'm not sure as a lot of the murder scenes seemed very choppily edited. It's a mentally unstable man going on a murder spree. It's not very entertaining, but this feels like it would've been shocking.

Lastly, I think the acting was pretty terrible. I honestly believe that the quality of the film actually hinders all of the performances. I found it hard at times to even see what was happening with a lot of the performances and acting quality. I think the standout in this movie was Leigh Mitchell as our prostitute. She is given the most to do. Fred Holbert as Matthew is unhinged but he is also weepy and a huge whinger which made his performance a little annoying at times.



- A man is run over and crushed by a tractor.
- A kid has his hand crushed by a tractor.
- Someone is repeatedly hit with an axe.
- A woman has her head smashed against a rock.
- A woman has her throat sliced with a hook.
- A man repeatedly has his hit bashed in with a rock.
- A dog is killed.
- An old lady is murdered.
- People are attacked.
- Someone slices their own stomach open with a hook.
- Someone's throat is slashed.
- Someone is repeatedly hit with a meat cleaver.
- Someone has their throat slashed.
- A sailor is slashed with a knife and has his throat cut.
- Someone is drowned in a river.

Scream Bloody Murder is a movie that I'm torn on. On a violent and mean-spirited level, this is a film that actually achieves what it sets out to do. All the death scenes feel somewhat evil and cold-blooded. I think I could see this movie being a lot more shocking in the seventies. Where the movie goes wrong for me is the quality of the film, the wafer-thin plot and some pretty terrible acting. For a slasher, it's not the worst I've seen, but it's not great either.

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