As a change from the regular schedule I have decided to review Carry On Screaming, this being the Carry On series' take on Hammer Horror films.
Set in Edwardian London, there have been six disappearances, all women, all vanished in Hocombe Woods and all in the space of a year. “Could there be a connection?” “Possibly.” is what Constable Slobotham and Sergeant Bung have to say on the matter. These are the two police men assigned to the case. Their investigations take them and the latest missing woman's boyfriend, Albert Potter, to an old house inhabited by a collection of typical monster movie baddies; a brother and sister; Dr Watt and Valeria, Dr Watt we know to be un-dead, Valeria is possibly also un-dead but this isn't confirmed, there's a Lurch-esque manservant, and two Neanderthal creatures, Oddbod and Oddbod Junior, that do as Dr Watt and Valeria tell them. It becomes apparent that Dr Watt and Valeria are kidnapping the young women, turning them into dummies and selling them to clothes shops, so it's up to Slobotham, Bung and Potter to stop the monsters and their evil doings.
Carry On Screaming is a 1966 Peter Rogers Production. It is a parody of Hammer Horror films, which were also popular at the time. It was directed by Gerald Thomas and stars Harry H. Corbett as Sergeant Sidney Bung, Peter Butterworth as Constable Slobotham, Jim Dale as Albert Potter, Kenneth Williams as Dr Watt and Fenella Fielding as Valeria.
Just to let you know from the start, I love the Carry On films, yes there are some naff ones near the end of the Carry On's run, but the majority are gems. This is one of those gems. The comedy is top notch and I felt it captured the hammer horror feel brilliantly.
There are several homages to iconic cinema monsters and horror stories within the film. These include Dr Watt who is un-dead and as such would be considered a zombie, but he's far from the traditional kind. There is the inclusion of Dr Jekyll's potion which is used twice during the film. The resurrection of a mummy, King Rubatitti, also features. The biggest homage of them all is to the 1953 film House of Wax of which Carry On Screaming has a similar plot to, only instead of covering the bodies in wax, Dr Watt uses a similar process to that of frying fish, placing them in a giant dish of “batter” and then into a second dish to fry the “battered” person, to which Dr Watt always inappropriately yells with glee “Frying Tonight!”
The Carry On films had their own equivalent to Hammer Glamour, this easily transferred to Carry On Screaming and perfectly emulated Hammer's traditional usage of Hammer Glamour. For this film they used Fenella Fielding as the voluptuous Valeria and Angela Douglas as Albert Potter's girlfriend Doris Mann. The character of Valeria has a somewhat similar appearance to that of Vampira in Ed Wood's 1959 film Plan 9 From Outer Space.
Harry H. Corbett was perfect for the role of Sidney Bung, even though the part was originally wrote for Sid James, but he was unavailable as he already had stage commitments. The character's name was still left as Sidney, as Sid James' characters were usually named after him in both TV and film. But even though Sid James was always great in other Carry On films, I can't picture him being better than Harry H. Corbett in this one, he was that enjoyable to watch. Both he and Jim Dale captured the Hammer style of melodramatic acting perfectly, most notably in the transformation scenes both of them went through. It will have helped that the Carry On films were acted very over the top anyway so the Carry On cast will have already been used to that style of acting only more comically than that of Hammer.
Overall, I really enjoyed Carry on Screaming. It was funny not only to Hammer fans but to the already established Carry On fans, but I'd say there's a bit more to appreciate in the film for the fans of Hammer Horrors, the little homages are always fun. The acting is perfect for the film, over the top and hammy, just as we like it.
Carry On Screaming 4/5