CHILLING CLASSICS MONTH: Scream Bloody Murder (1973)

As Matthew watches his father work on a tractor, he decides to turn it on and kill him with it, all at the cost of his own left hand. Yes, we’re not even at the credits yet and Scream Bloody Murder — the first motion picture to be called gore-nography! — is already insane.

Matthew grows up in a psychiatric hospital with a hook for a hand, returning home at the age of eighteen to live with his mother and her new husband, Mack Parsons. In addition to killing his father, Matthew might hate sex but wants to fuck his mother. He does the logical thing here and kills Parsons with an axe and shoves his mother to the ground and kills her when her head hits a rock. We’re about ten minutes into this movie, mind you.

Our hero takes a ride with a young couple, but soon, he’s seeing them as his mother and Parsons, screaming, “Don’t touch her!” and beating the man to death with a rock and drowning the woman. This movie feels less like a movie and more I am watching maniacs actually film their insane activities. And then the voices of his mom and new dad chase him everywhere!

Finally, Matthew makes it to town where he meets Vera, a painter and prostitute. He falls in love with her to the kind of degree that I would when it came to mean girls who smoked gloves and had asymmetrical haircuts in the early 1990’s. Except instead of making them mixtapes and doing their homework, Matthew is slicing the throat of one of her johns and violently taking over a mansion. Yes, he uses a pillow to kill the owner, a cleaver to kill the maid and even cuts off a dog’s head! Matthew!

Matthew then brings Vera to his new home, but she refuses to live there, so he takes her prisoner. Even when he gives her the life of her dreams and the chance to be an artist, she doesn’t want to stay.

Soon, a doctor comes to visit (Angus Scrimm!) but Matthew kills him. Vera is stuck inside with a killer, but she realizes that he’s disgusted by sex. She convinces him to let her take a bath and then tries to make him have sex with her. He starts to freak out and turns his head. She stabs him, but he survives and soon chases her down before cutting her throat with his hook.

With his love now dead, Matthew goes completely off — everything before was just a test, obviously — and runs through town, followed by the voices and phantom states of his victims as they lure him to his fate. He’s also followed by some swinging horns, baby! Everything descends into psychedelics, aided and abetted by the kind of horrible transfer that you know and love from your friends at Mill Creek. I don’t care! I don’t need a perfect blu-ray or 4K transfer to love the end of this movie! Dig that dolly roll back from the altar! Now that’s a shot!

Writer/director Marc B. Ray also wrote Stepfather 3, as well as an episode of Kids Incorporated, featuring Martika, Fergie and Jeff “Chunk from The Goonies” Cohen and Mario Lopez, and the 1970’s New Mickey Mouse Club, with Lisa Whelchel of TV’s Facts of Life. And co-writer Larry Alexander worked on plenty of 70’s TV, like Lucan and The Super Mario Super Show. None of this kid fare will prepare you for this movie.

This is one bizarre, dark and downright strange movie. It’s nearly an art film, filled with meanness toward the world and nearly everyone in it is murdered — horribly — for no reason at all. Actually, it’s too poorly shot to be an art film, but I wonder how audiences reacted to this upon watching it at the drive-in. There’s no real escape valve or comedy relief. It’s just unrepentant nihilism. In fact, it gets so dark that one wonders if it goes so far that it becomes comedic.

Also known as Claw of Terror, Captive Female and Matthew, this is yet another part of the Chilling Classics box set, which is equally packed with bad quality and great surprises.

You can watch the whole thing here:

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