Carry On Screaming! Blu-ray Review
Come on altogether now, Frying tonight!
Carry On Screaming! Blu-ray ReviewMonstrous ape-man throwbacks are stalking the woods and kidnapping young women, so that a spooky-kooky brother and sister combo can then vitrify them in the basement laboratory of their gothic mansion and transform them into shop-window mannequins. But when Albert Potter’s girlfriend, Doris, gets snatched, he turns to a beleaguered, bewildered and befuddled police force, in the form of Sgt. Bung and his loyal lackey Detective Slobotham to help solve the mystery and rescue her. There’s an old dark house. There are revived corpses and regenerated creatures. Murders and mummies are also on the cards and body-parts are dropping off ear, there and everywhere. Gorgeously voluptuous vamp Valeria pouts and purrs, melting the hearts of men and monsters with equal aplomb. She also has the power to turn men into salivating beasts … quite literally in some cases.
Truly successful horror-comedies are very few and far between. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, An American Werewolf in London, Gremlins, Shaun of the Dead. And this … the Carry On team’s fabulous take on Hammer Horror. The secret potion, or elixir, that is needed to make them work is that as well as being extremely funny, they have to take the horror seriously enough to deliver some genuine shivers. It is a delicate balancing act to spoof something whilst still delivering the necessary thrills and chills … and it’s a right old scream watching Sgt. Bung “finger” the culprits here.
Come on … altogether now … “Frying tonight!”
Carry On Screaming! Blu-ray Picture Quality“It was something unspeakable …”
“Yes. Never said a word.”
This is impressive stuff from Studio Canal. Carry on Screaming looks incredible in hi-def. The image is sharp and film-like, nicely textured with authentic grain – a couple of spikes dotted about, but still very faithful - and a true sense of visual depth, colours that are gorgeously presented and detail that brings the picture to life like the lightning bolt that resuscitates the long-mummified Rubbatiti from his sarcophagus.
It is presented at 1.66:1 and via AVC. Print damage is still evident, but it is really small stuff. Just tiny nicks and pops, now and again. Nothing to get worked-up about. Really, this is a fine picture that looks very robust and strong and, essentially, very Hammer-like, which means that it has a much classier look than the rest of the films in the series, offering a fine flagship arrival on the format.
Contrast is superb and black levels are excellent. That’s good to hear, isn’t it? Shadow-play has depth and integrity. Nothing is crushed within the darker areas of the frame. There might be the odd contrast fluctuation during the instance of a scene-transition, but you should expect things like this. Otherwise, this image is smooth and consistent.
DOP Alan Hume tried to emulate the redolent lighting that Jack Asher achieved for Hammer with his gels, and he does a fabulous job of it too. Reds, greens, purples and blues are all splendidly vivid, warm and hypnotic. The yellow of the vitrifying vat, the midnight blues of the night-time scenes in Hokum Wood, the electrifying blues of the sparking rejuvenator and the reds of the diodes and gizmos that Pertwee’s police boffin uses. The earthy brown fur of Junior, and the alarmingly seductive scarlet of Valeria’s dress. The blue of Harry H. Corbett’s eyes is surprisingly arresting, the intoxicating rainbow of concoctions that Valeria mixes in her Hyde potion for the gullible rozzer seems like it has dripped from the screen of Argento’s Suspiria. He actually appears to use coloured gels like Asher and he certainly creates a very similar look to the Hammer movies of the early sixties – bold, lurid, heightened and marvelously stylized. The camera work is also hugely similar in its framing and in some of the angles. Like Mel Brooks did with Young Frankenstein, which meticulously copied the look and style of vintage Universal and of James Whale’s celebrated double-take on Shelley’s New Prometheus, in particular, Carry On Screaming perfectly replicates Hammer’s sumptuous gothic appeal with zeal and panache.
The image is sharp and film-like, nicely textured with authentic grain
Detail is fantastic. There are little elements on show here that haven’t been seen before. From the glint in Fielding’s eyes, to the tufts of fur on Junior’s knuckles, and from the material on the monsters’ boiler-suits to the lattice of cobwebs on the multitude of spooky props – voodoo masks and statuary – dotted around the mansion, this looks immaculate. The makeup design for Kenneth Williams, Fenella Fielding and Bernard Bresslaw – pale, cadaverous skin and, in the case of the blokes, either reddish or blackened eyes – is now much more apparent, and admirable. Paintings on the wall, the portrait of Mrs. Bung’s mother, the hideous wallpaper pattern, the books, object d’art and dusty bric-a-brac in Bide-a Wee – you won’t have seen them with this much clarity before. Look at the leaves and moonlit puddles on the cobblestones back down the road as Corbett’s Hyde incarnation goes on a smash ‘n’ grab.
The image also provides lots of visual depth to the street scenes of Bung’s jalopy trundling along, or the horse and cart that Sprockett drives through the night. The basement laboratory is huge and highly baronial in the truest Frankenstein sense. And the stage-bound trees and the real scenes of Black Wood also offer plenty of pleasing, though theatrical spatiality.
Edge enhancement is not a problem. Aliasing and banding do not occur. There is some vague shimmering on the wicker-work basket and the railings … but don’t look for it and you won’t see it.
This is a tremendous transfer that bodes well for the rest of the series when they arrive on Blu, although StudioCanal have clearly opted for the best-looking film of the series for their hi-def Carry On debut.
Carry On Screaming! Blu-ray Sound Quality“Came out of the woods at me! Great big glaring eyes! Big long teeth! Ten feet tall!”
“Yes … but did you notice anything unusual about it?”
The audio track is 2-channel LPCM mono and this, too, is fantastically realized. Gerald Thomas fashioned a film that was deliberately rooted with a very strong and highly detailed sound design. In fact, most of the Carry On films were raucous and full of little sound effects to elaborate and emphasise the comedy. Carry on Screaming is one of the most effective and inventive in this department, with lots of stuff going on from snapping twigs and gunshots to sizzling electrical circuits and shattering doors and walls.
Well, there’s no need to worry about the dialogue. It comes across with absolute clarity and is never drowned or swamped. Eric Roger’s score has warmth, range and scintillating detail. There are lots of wacky little instrumental effects to Mickey Mouse the moments of somebody sitting on something like a car-hooter, or straining too far, stretching their creaky legs or ripping the fabric on a corset. Listen for the klong! of the bedpan, which gets trodden on several times. There is the great hooter moment when Oddbod, angry at losing his finger, trashes the Sgt.’s jalopy. I love it when he accidentally blasts it into his own face and then, further enraged, hurls it down and jumps on it, eliciting another glorious hoot. We have the varied sound of footsteps on the glass ceiling of Dan Dann’s lavatory – hurried women’s heels scurrying across, and then Oddbod’s sensationally huge clodhoppers thudding slowly overhead.
Gerald Thomas fashioned a film that was deliberately rooted with a very strong and highly detailed sound design.
Even the gunshots have some power and oomph to them, as does the aforementioned smashing of windows and the crashing through of doors and walls. The flushing of the toilet – that has just seen off poor Dan – also carries some degree of distance, as we hear it from another room. As does the offscreen crashing murder of Pertwee’s police egghead.
Then there is the fabulous humming and buzzing of the electrical equipment down in the lab, effects that really zap with energy. The track displays good all-round presence and oodles of smirk-inducing activity, such as those little fabric rips and jokey hooter-blurts.
All very good stuff. Authentic, faithful and a mix designed for frights, fun and frivolity.
Carry On Screaming! Blu-ray Extras“May we see the master of the house?”
“The master of the house is dead, sir. He’s been dead fifteen years now. But if you come in, I’ll ask him if he can see you.”
We get a couple of extras here. There is the film’s Original Trailer and a terrific commentary track from Angela Douglas and Fenella Fielding, moderated by Carry On historian/fanboy/author Robert Ross.
The chat-track is thoroughly entertaining with the girls on fine form, especially Fielding, who still purrs so sensually that it is a struggle to sit still while she drops anecdotes and opinions. She does most of the talking, with Douglas chipping-in with some worthwhile stuff and Ross clearly relishing the reminiscences. There are no lulls and the stories and gossip come thick and fast.
Is Carry On Screaming! Blu-ray Worth BuyingThe best Carry On film of the series, and one of the best horror comedies ever made, Carry On Screaming is endlessly entertaining and, surprisingly, hasn’t really dated … unlike the very films it is taking the Mickey out of. Its Hammer spoofing is spot-on, the camerawork, lighting, sets and FX ripe, ribald and gloriously atmospheric. The screenplay is tremendously well written with a great sense of ensemble camaraderie, mystery, slapstick buffoonery and a real wealth of imagination. For genre fans, you won’t be able to avoid ticking-off all the references. Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, House of Wax – they are all here, and more besides, and they are treated with surprising respect.
The performances are typically excellent, with the iconic nature of the classic British innuendo graced with a genuine atmosphere of mystery and an air of redolence that would put many genre flicks from the period to shame. Fielding establishes the vamp as a sexual phenomena even more so than Yvonne De Carlo as Lily Munster or Carolyn Jones as Morticia Addams, who had both already fashioned the gothic icon on cult television. And Kenneth Williams has a field day, even when bedecked in a Life of Brian-style fake beard.
The best Carry On film of the series, and one of the best horror comedies ever made
StudioCanal really gives the transfer the works. It is detailed, film-like and beautifully lurid, just like the horror institution that it capitalises upon. The picture is rich and opulent and benefits from a depth that really adds to the visual splendour that DOP Alan Hume strived to attain. The audio is clean and clear and gives plenty of life to the comical and SF pizzazz that the film is filled with. Extras-wise, we only get a commentary, but it is a good one. Fenella Fielding and Angela Douglas provide great anecdotes and opinion and still reveal a great sense of humour.
Carry On’s crowning glory remains an absolute scream!
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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