AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS! (aka: Fengriffen) (director: Roy Ward Baker; screenwriters: from the novel “Fengriffen” by David Case/Roger Marshall; cinematographer: Denys Coop; editor: Peter Tanner; music: Douglas Gamley; cast: Stephanie Beacham (Catherine Fengriffen), Peter Cushing (Dr Pope), Ian Ogilvy (Charles Fengriffen), Geoffrey Whitehead (Silas), Herbert Lom (Sir Henry Fengriffen), Patrick Magee (Dr Whittle), Rosalie Crutchley (Mrs Luke), Janet Key (Bridget), Guy Rolfe (Lawyer Maitland), Sally Harrison (Sarah), Gillian Lind (Aunt Edith); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Max Rosenberg/Milton Subotsky; Image Entertainment; 1973-UK)
“A disappointing grisly ghost story.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A disappointing grisly ghost story. It’s a sordid low-rent rip-off of Daphne du Mauriers Rebecca. Written as a scream by Roger Marshall from the novel “Fengriffen” by David Case, the heavy-handed Brit director Roy Ward Baker (“Inferno”/”The Monster Club”/”The October Man”) does nothing to promote the story or keep it from descending into the pits. It’s a tedious story about a family curse, a haunted house and the victim seeking revenge from the grave. It also has a heroine (Stephanie Beacham) who can’t stop screaming (which subs for acting) and I could never adjust the volume level to listen without being overtaken by its shrillness. Omnibus mavens Amicus Pictures is responsible for this forgettable gothic horror flick.
In the the England of 1795, newlywed virgin bride Catherine Fengriffen (Stephanie Beacham) joins her husband Charles (Ian Ogilvy) on his ancestral family estate. Once there, Catherine envisions a severed hand which springs from a painting and a woodsman named Silas (Geoffrey Whitehead) with a strange birthmark who at times appears without an arm and with his eyes shot out.
Poor Catherine gets no comfort when she turns for help to the housekeeper Mrs. Luke (Rosalie Crutchley), a Dr. Whittle (Patrick Magee), a lawyer named Maitland (Guy Rolfe), and Catherine’s chaperone Aunt Edith (Gillian Lind), who is killed before she can help.
At last, Dr. Pope (Peter Cushing) is sent for and comes to the rescue. He unearths the curse of the Fengriffen family, and we learn that Charles’ grandfather Henry (Herbert Lom) raped the virgin bride of Silas the woodsman on her wedding night. When Silas tried to stop him, Charles chopped off his hand. Silas then threatens vengeance, that the next virgin bride of a Fengriffen will meet the same fate as his bride and death shall befall those who try to prevent it.
It’s an ugly shocking story that looks sumptuous due to the sets of Tony Curtis. But the talented cast can’t make much of this ridiculous story and Baker’s inadequate direction leaves things looking stilted and interest wanes long before the back story of the curse is revealed in the third act. Catherine’s long annoying bouts of screaming and her less than interesting visions all seem to be handled without deftness, without giving rise to fright and in a perfunctory manner.
REVIEWED ON 4/3/2009 GRADE: C-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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