In 1795 Charles Fengriffen (Ian Ogilvy) returns to his family home with his fiancé Catherine (Stephanie Beacham). On the night of their wedding Catherine is raped by a ghost. The ghost has a red mark on its face, is eyeless and is missing its right hand. Catherine has reoccurring visions of the ghastly apparition.
One day, while out walking Catherine comes across the fenced in family cemetery. Inside is a woodsman, Silas (Geoffrey Whitehead) who has the same red mark on his face as the spirit she has been seeing. Catherine asks Charles about him and learns that he lives on the family estate and owns the property he lives on. Charles refuses to tell her anything else about the strange man. Catherine visits the family solicitor Maitland (Guy Rolfe) and asks him about Silas. He too refuses to tell her anything but says he will talk to Charles and ask him to confide in her. On Maitland’s way to Fengriffen he is murdered.
When Catherine has another vision and faints the family doctor, Dr. Whittle (Patrick Magee) is called. He determines that Catherine is pregnant. The news is somehow disturbing to Catherine. Dr. Whittle wants Charles to tell Catherine about the family’s sordid past but Charles refuses. He maintains that it is all rumor and legend and that there is nothing true in it. Sill anyone who tries to tell Catherine the family story ends up dead. A servant, Mrs. Luke (Rosalie Crutchley) falls down the stairs and dies. Dr. Whittle (Patrick Magee) has a heart attack. Catherine’s Aunt Edith (Gillian Lind) wants to take Catherine away from the estate. She is also killed.
Finally Charles brings in Dr. Pope (Peter Cushing). Pope is a doctor of a new medical science called psychiatry. Pope begins talking to Catherine about her visions and dreams. He too is running up against a wall of silence when he tries to find out the sordid history of the Fengriffen family and the curse that was bestowed upon them and on the first virgin bride to arrive at the family estate.
“And Now the Screaming Starts” AKA “Fengriffen” AKA “Bride of Fengriffen” was released in 1973 and was directed by Roy Ward Baker. It is a British gothic horror film produced by Amicus Productions. It is based on the 1970 novella “Fengriffen” by David Case. It is one of the few Amicus films that take place in the past.
Amicus did a lot of films, mostly in the sixties and seventies, which were similarly patterned to Hammer’s horror films as well as anthologies and portmanteaus. Amicus films were usually a little darker and had much lower budgets. Amicus also used many of the same actors that Hammer had in their films.
It’s not a bad little film. There is some gore here and there. If you’re a Cushing fan, he doesn’t show up until half way through the film. The mix of demonic curse and psychological thriller is balanced for the most part. It is geared for lovers of gothic horror and movies with disembodied hands.
The large gothic house used in the film is Oakley Court. Oakley Court was once owned by Hammer Studios. It has since been made a four-star hotel. It is also where “Rocky Horror Picture Show” 1975 was filmed.