Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Scream Bloody Murder (1973) [filmed in 1971]

...aka: Captive Female, The
...aka: Claw of Terror
...aka: Matthew

Directed by:
Marc B. Ray

Deranged, delusional, voyeuristic little weirdo Matthew decides, what the hell, I'll kill my dad by running over him with a tractor today. After doing so, he carelessly leaps off and accidentally runs over his own hand. His mommy then sends him away to live with the nuns for awhile. When he turns 18, Matthew (Fred Holbert) returns home with a new hook in place of his hand, and is not too happy to discover his mother has remarried. The nuns apparently didn't do a very good job with him because it isn't long before the Freudian jealousy takes over, Matthew starts hearing voices and resumes his murderous ways. When he catches his folks messing around in the woods, he chops up his new step dad (Robert Knox) up with an axe and then turns on his momma and during a struggle, accidentally knocks her head off a jagged rock, killing her too. He then decides to split town, hitches a ride with a pair of honeymooners (Suzette Hamilton and Willey Reynolds), flips out yet again, kills them and steals their car.

So off to a quaint little seaside village he goes. The first friend he makes while in town is a friendly redhead named Vera (Leigh Mitchell) who likes to paint and makes money on the side as a hooker. He insists on calling her Daisy (his momma's name) and she agrees. Matthew tries to impress her by claiming he has rich parents and, when she's skeptical, he invades a neighborhood mansion, kills the maid with a meat cleaver and then goes after the bitchy, elderly matron of the house Miss Anatole (Florence Lea). Even though she puts up an incredible fight with her canes, he's able to overpower her and smother her with a pillow. After getting rid of the dog too, he's now ready to invite his new pal Vera, uh, "Daisy," over. When Daisy / Vera shows up at the mansion, Matthew tries to force her to stay, but she informs him that she may work as a cheap whore, but she still can't be bought! The two get in a struggle and she takes a nasty plunge down a flight of stairs, knocking her out cold.

Then the movie comes to sudden halt and goes the Collector route as Matthew holds Vera prisoner in the house. He ties her to an upstairs bed, gags her, walks her around like a dog on a leash and informs her "I get groceries and clothes and art stuff and kill people. And do you appreciate it? No. N-O!" During a romantic steak dinner (which Matthew shoplifted), he holds a knife to her throat and says "Eat or I'll cut your tongue out!" The worst torture of all (for both Vera and the viewer) is having to sit and listen to Matthew whine, cry and complain over and over and over again... But who's that at the door? Why it's Angus (Phantasm) Scrimm as Dr. Epstein! He shows up to give Miss Anatole her arthritis shot, barges into the house because he suspects something fishy is up and is beat over the head with a statue. After several failed escape attempts, Vera discovers Matthew's real weakness is actually sex and the naked female body and she's able to turn the tables against her attacker, bolts for the front door and... Well we'll just say there's an unexpected ending in a church and leave it at that.

Scream Bloody Murder is a very cheap production with a couple of pluses, namely a lot of Z movie charm and sincere, though unprofessional, acting from the two leads. Both are pretty good for a no budget film like this and Leigh Mitchell (who also had a small role in The Incredible Melting Man) gets to play both Vera and Matthew's mom in an interesting bit of casting. The killings are bloody enough and there are also stylishly shot scenes of Matthew being haunted by visions of his ghostly former victims that use bizarre, distorted camera-work and are pretty cool. The killer being completely disinterested in sex also makes this somewhat unique for the time period.


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