When Valerie (Andrea Allan) and her boyfriend Terry (Alex Leppard) wander into the wrong house in the foggy woods, they witness a murder. She manages to escape and evade the killer. But her troubles are far from over when the culprit manages to find a way into her life. Can you guess who it is?
José Ramón Larraz is quite the interesting duckling of Spanish horror & exploitation cinema. From his early sensual psycho-thrillers from the ’70s to his more genre-flavored ’80s horror efforts, he at least displayed a lot more talent in constructing a coherent film than some of his European genre-colleagues ever did (I’m not mentioning names here). It’s evident Larraz did his best to rise above what many nowadays label as Euro-trash cinema and, as far as I’m concerned, he did just that. Yet his films remain as obscure as ever and severely underrated & underviewed. This being said, ‘Scream… And Die!’ might perhaps not be the best place to start when you dive into Larraz‘s filmography (as it’s not considered as one of his better films), but then again, it’s as good a place as any to start. Okay, I’m being vague. Let’s just say ‘Scream… And Die!’ is not a bad film; it’s just not as interesting as some of his other output.
When it comes to the cast and their performances, the women in this film pretty much give all the men a run for their money. Not only in terms of acting, I might add, since all ladies also don’t mind gratuitously showing off their naked bodies at all. I even dare claim these numerous portrayals of female nudity enlighten the more dull moments during the film. Because face it, for a slasheresque horror film the bodycount is remarkably low in this one. In terms of moody atmosphere, Larraz does manage to deliver an accomplished result. And you can easily feel how some of the content (like the murders and one particularly awkward, incestuous sex scene) was meant to shock at the time. Those scenes still work, but it doesn’t really help things that the movie is just too slow in general. Nevertheless, blonde Andrea Allan is very pleasing on the eyes. So is brunette Judy Matheson. And they’re the best actresses of the lot. Good casting, Larraz. Too bad the money ran dry when hiring the other actors.
‘Scream… And Die!’ has some distinct giallo overtones going on in favor of the film. The inevitable black-gloved, unseen killer is present and during certain nightly scenes colorful light design enhances the images, strangely enough giving the movie somewhat of an early ’80s feel as opposed to the early ’70s, during which the movie was made. And of course, women are stalked and murdered. But this is where the giallo comparisons end, because the actual plot is not nearly convoluted enough to entertain. The essential problem with the story is that it offers us far too little hooks and herrings sprinkled throughout the plot, so that guessing the killer’s identity becomes child’s play for the more seasoned viewer. Still, for giallo fans ‘Scream… And Die!’ makes up for an interesting effort, since we’re talking about a film made by a Spanish director and shot on location in Essex, England.
In Larraz‘s defense, with ‘Scream… And Die!’ the man does deliver another psycho-sexually flavored genre efffort of the type most British directors seemed incapable of conceiving. If you can dig this type of independent cinema, then seek out Larraz‘s ‘Deviation’ (1971); a stranger and more unsettling offering. Program both films as a double bill, and you’ll have a fine initiation for any layman interested in Larraz‘s further filmography. Things are supposed to get better from there on.
Offscreen Film Festival presents screenings of ‘Scream… And Die!’ (1974) and ‘Symptoms’ (1974) on the 13th of March in Cinematek, as part of a special retrospective program on the work of José Ramón Larraz.
Teaser-spot on YouTube.