SCREAM BLOODY MURDER (1973)
D. Marc B. Ray
Classic Drive-in 50 Pack
Boy, oh boy, is this a sick and twisted little flick. It could actually be shown on late night local TV without any cuts, but I guarantee you will come away feeling entirely unclean after taking a look at this early seventies slasher gem. I found out about this in the indispensable book NIGHTMARE USA by Steven Thrower. Which I have said before and will say again, has become the holy book and bible for any true independent horror movie fan worth their salt. You want to know how horror films were during that golden age of 1970 to 1985? Then you need to have this book, it's as simple as that. Your education as a fan or cinema scholar has a huge hole in it, otherwise. One of the smaller chapters was devoted to the film under discussion today, and as with many of the films in the book I knew I had to see it. But wonderfully enough, it turned out I already had a copy in my possession thanks to those crazy MILL CREEK 50 pack DVD collections. Then I promptly forgot I had it until now as I was looking for something else to pop in for the continuing Halloween Horror challenge.
The plot revolves around Matthew as sadistic young man who as a little boy ran over his father with a tractor, killing him. In the ensuing tragedy, his own hand got caught in the treads and was mangled, as well. He was sent to a Catholic sanatorium for a few years until he was eighteen and then released back into his mother's care. Unfortunately, this was also the day she was newly married, to a kindly local guy. So Matthew comes home, with a steel metal hook for a hand, mind you, to find his mother on the steps of the house with a new man. Matthew goes apeshit, screaming his non-approval of the new guy and he shouldn't be touching Matthew's. Seems like there's some creepy obsessing going on. It doesn't take long at all before Matthew's obsessions bubble right to a head and he takes an ax to the new husband, hacking him to death. When Mom discovers Matty boy standing over her new lover, splattered in his warm blood, she understandably freaks out. Matthew, on the other hand, is convinced he's done a GOOD thing, telling his mother he did it for THEM and now she doesn't have to have that beast's hands all over her anymore! And now they can be together without anyone else's unwanted touching! She freaks more and starts screaming that she LIKED it when the man touched her, causing Matthew to push her to the ground in a rage, where she hits her head on a rock and dies instantly. This is the first fifteen minutes folks! It only gets MORE fucked up from here!
So Matthew hits the road. He's soon picked up by a newlywed couple, but he he imagines they are the corpses of his Mom and her lover and whacks them, too. He eventually makes his way into L.A. and meets a beautiful hooker named Vera. He just walks up to her on her front porch while she is painting a picture and they bond over his very insane interpretation of it (she really should have clued in on how nutso the kid was at that point right there). They become buddies because he doesn't want to become a customer, and he keeps telling her he's rich and wants to take her away to a better life. But she's a very sensible modern woman, you see, and she keeps telling him that she doesn't let anyone tell her how to live her life. This is here the movie gets REALLY weird, folks!
Vera is a modern, liberated woman. She's a painter, lives on her own and is a hooker. Matthew is only cool with one of those things.
So Matthew finds a huge mansion and kills the occupants: an old lady, her maid, and their unusually compliant dog. Chops them all with a meat cleaver. He then takes over living there, driving their cars and planting himself as a rich dude with a rich life. But, of course, he isn't rich, so he sets upon a life of petty crime to get money! He goes about stealing purses, robbing people, etc., to get quick cash! Somehow no one figures out a pimple faced fucktard with a hook for a hand is out terrorizing the streets of L.A. Eventually he kidnaps Vera, renames her Daisey and it becomes a whole breaking of her will kind of thing as he makes her live in the mansion with him. He gives her everything she wants, if she will only bend to his will. But he never tries to have sex with her, or even strip her down. He's clear afraid of sex, which is what she figures out enough to use to her advantage. This leads to a powerhouse climax in a church to will leave you just staring at the TV.
The acting in SCREAM BLOODY MURDER is pretty much on par with a no budget quicky of the period. Matthew's kind of like if Peter Brady from THE BRADY BUNCH went psycho and had a hook for hand. Still, he has some corker dialogue in this thing. Lines like "I've given you everything! Expensive clothes, fine food, the best art supplies! Killed people! But do you appreciate it? No! N. O. NO!" When he is freaking out about people touching up his mom and how no one should like touching or being looked at, it's all too convincing. I bet this actor couldn't get a date or get laid for years after this cesspool of a movie came out. Oddly enough, Angus Scrimm (credited as Roy Guy) shows up for a scene, looking all young and shit. As the old ladies family doctor, he barges in on Matthew and his hostage bliss and pays dearly for it. It's really strange to see Scrimm so young.
But it's the whole mommy fixation in the movie that makes it so damn grimy and filthy. There's never a direct, outright moment where it is said that Matthew and his mom were getting busy, but it is intoned heavily. From the opening moments were he kills his Dad onward, his every single action is colored with a sexual loathing and a fixation on his mother that is way more sick and neurotic than, say, PSYCHO or even MANIAC. Every single frame of this movie drips with nasty psycho sexual madness. Yet does it without a single moment of actual sex, nudity, or even profanity. There is a large amount of graphic violence, though, especially the unrelentingly brutal moment when he kills the old lady's maid, who had been so kind to him just moments before.
This movie's weird in that we spend the entire movie with a character that is pretty unlikable. I suppose there are attempts to look into his madness as we get more than a few moments where we see how he sees people as the corpses of his mother and her lover. Mostly, though, we see him being a manipulative prick, a criminal and an asshole with a mommy fixation. That never stops it from being an uncomfortable and fascinating ride, but you might need to clean up afterward.
Reviews © Andy Copp