Anglo Amalgamated/Universal .
R4 . COLOR . 92 mins .
PG . PAL
Detective Bung: A young lady has disappeared and we're anxious to trace her whereabouts. Dr. Watt: Oh? Whereabouts? Detective Bung: Hereabouts. Albert: At ten o'clock. Detective Bung: Or thereabouts. Constable: In this vicinity. Detective Bung: Or roundabouts. Constable: We're police officers. Albert: Or layabouts.
A mid-60s attempt to manufacture Russell Crowe goes horribly wrong...
If the above exchange sounds even vaguely funny to you, then you should seek psychiatric help. While you’re heading back from your appointment with a specialist, though, you should probably pick up a copy of this entry in the interminable Carry On series of apparently “classic” British comedies, as you’ll be one of the few remaining people on the planet that will actually get a laugh out of the thing.
It’s not as if the British weren’t capable of being funny during the 1960s, after all. On the cusp of an era when intelligent British comedy would rule the world, by 1966 the country had already given the world Peter Sellers and his fellow Goons, a couple of genuinely clever Beatles comedies, and of course the genius of the Ealing productions of previous decades. The Carry On films, by comparison, seem targeted directly at those who find bad puns, ooh-err-missus double entendre and endless gags about the apparently pathetic working class somehow amusing. There aren’t many such people left. I know this, because I tried to find one. Make a note to yourself: if you ever have the urge to make people run away from you, suggest to them that you sit down and watch a Carry On movie. Works like a charm.
The plot of Carry On Screaming is paper-thin and there entirely to support the “jokes”. Essentially, buxom wenches are vanishing in the dead of night, and the only clue to their whereabouts is a big hairy finger which belongs to the most arbitrarily-designed monster in cinema history. Called Oddbod, it’s the creation of the sinister Dr Watt (comic name, what?) who is turning the hapless vixens into mannequins. Detective Bung investigates. Amusement happens. The end.
Ultimately, the only vaguely interesting thing about this cure for insomnia is the bevy of inadvertent Doctor Who references - Dr Watt mentions that his brother is called Who, Watt plugs himself into the wall to “regenerate” and… lurking in the cast, could that be Jon Pertwee? Yes, it could. And indeed it is. The sheer excitement of this discovery is enough to cause a little current of excitement for at least three seconds, and so the first scene that Pertwee appears in gets our vote as Scene of the Film.
In an attempt to find humour in this film - just a giggle, a small titter, even a simple smile - I decided there was only one thing for it. I was going to have to get drunk. This is the kind of sacrifice DVDnet reviewers make for you, our loyal readers. The results of these extensive tests are as follows:
Tequila: Woohoo! Party!! Oooo-eeeee!!! What’s this movie for?
Flaming Lamborghini: Look at me! I’m a helium-filled penguin!!!
A 1999 Cabernet Shiraz Malbec: A bouquet of dark berries and fruitcake leads into a rich, full-bodied experience on the palate, the deliciously firm tannin structure evident on the finish. Cellar for 20 years, and put that bloody Carry On DVD in there with it.
After the tests the hangover is excruciating, to say the least. Through a throbbing head and a mouth that felt as though it had been lined with dry icy-pole sticks, I put the DVD back into the player one last time. The images flickered into life on the screen. And oh, the pain! I will never drink another drop again, I say to myself.
There you have it. Carry On Screaming. Stops you drinking, fast. Infomercial, anyone?
Police finally locate the dreaded Pop Starlet factory.
The film might be 37 years old, but it certainly doesn’t look it thanks to the very nice video transfer supplied here; if more worthy films got such loving attention we’d all be a much happier species. Presented in its original UK ratio of 1.66:1 and not 16:9 enhanced, this is a transfer that probably won’t knock you for six if you’re used to the eye-candy of more modern fare - but when you consider the age and stature of what you’re watching, it’s more than decent. A clear, sharp image with solid colours and plenty of detail, it’s let down by poor black levels in some night scenes (apparently that’s how they’re supposed to look), occasional serious film damage and a slight “gauze” over the whole shebang courtesy of the telecine machine. But overall, it looks ten times better than you’ve ever likely seen it look before.
Sound is straight mono, encoded as Dolby Digital 2.0, and is perfectly clear and sharp, with that lovely harsh edge so characteristic of old movie soundtracks. Short of a 5.1 re-recording it’s not going to sound much better.
There are no extras at all, something for which this reviewer, for once, is massively grateful.
The film rating below is accounted for by Jon Pertwee (1 point), the papier-mâché disaster of a monster (half a point) and Fenella Fielding’s goth-as-they-come red dress (half a point). Thanks for playing.