England 1795: Catherine (Stephanie Beacham) has just married Charles
Fengriffen (Ian Ogilvy) and moved into his mansion, when she starts being
scared shitless - by the portrait of Charles' grandfather Henry (Herbert
Lom), a severed hand and a ghost with his eyes poked out, his hand chopped
off and a red mark on his cheek. And eventually the ghost and the hand
even attack her ... or so she thinks, s when Charles charges to her
rescue, there is no ghost or other kind of attacker to be seen. Still, she
keeps seeing the ghost and the hand, and at one point she also slices up
the portrait, and before long Charles starts to believe she might be
losing her mind.
Then though, Catherine stumbles upon a woodcutter, Silas (Geoffrey
Whitehead), who looks exactly like the ghost she keeps seeing (with the
difference that Silas has both eyes and both hands incact), and she begins
to realize that there's more to the whole affair than just her imagination
- in fact she soon realizes it has to do with a family curse, but
everybody who tries to tell her about the curse (or help her in any other
way) is killed by mysterious circumstances ... plus she has to realize she
Eventually, Charles has some sort of specialist, Doctor Pope (Peter
Cushing), come from London to cure his wife, and he soon blames everything
on Catherine's subconscious (rather a feat for a doctor from the 18th
century), especially after he finds out her favourite literature is the Witches'
Hammer and the Fengriffen's are actually doomed by a family curse,
which goes back some 50 years, when Charles' grandfather Henry raped
Silas' father's (also Geoffrey Whitehead) newly-wed wife (Sally Harrison),
then had Silas' father's hand chopped off ... and since that time the
first virginal bride of a Fengriffen (who is in fact Catherine since
Charles' mother was a widow before marrying into the family) will be
ravaged by the ghost of Silas' father in the wedding night and will bear
his child ...
Upon learning that, Catherine tries to kill her child by stabbing
herself in the stomach, but (in a rather ridiculous scene) the severed
hand prevents her from doing so.
Eventually, the child is born, but Charles, upon seeing the boy, goes
completely mad, first shoots Silas through the eyes (just like the ghost
Catherine has been keeping seeing, then savagely desecraes his
grandfather's grave ...
The child, you see, has on his cheek the exact same mark that both
Silas and his father had, and it's missing its right hand - so the curse
was real after all, was it ?
Considering And now the Screaming Starts was made in 1973, the
film, including its gothic approach and old fashioned direction seems a
little out of date, films like this had their heyday some 10 to 15 years
earlier. But taken out of time and seen what it is the film - an
old-fashioned shocker (but old-fashioned in a good way) relying strongly
on atmosphere and featuring great actors and convincing sets, is just
wonderful, a traditional British horror film just as they are supposed to
be and you expect them to be.