‘The first motion picture to called gore-nography!!!’
Scream Bloody Murder is a 1972 American horror feature film written, directed and produced by Marc B. Ray (The Severed Arm; Stepfather III storylines) and co-written by Larry Alexander.
The film could easily be claimed to be one of the first slasher films though has suffered from the many guises it has appeared under and remains relatively unknown. It has been released as Matthew; Claw of Terror; The Captive Female and, more recently, repackaged on DVD-R with the splendidly sleazy title Amputee With An Axe.
It should not be confused with other productions bearing the title Scream Bloody Murder, specifically, Robert J. Emery’s 1974 movie (also known as My Brother Has Bad Dreams), Jon Hoffman’s 2008 comedy horror film, a 2008 CNN documentary about genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda, or Ralph Portillo’s 2000 slasher Bloody Murder (retitled Scream Bloody Murder for UK release).
Farm-based nutcase, Matthew, drives the family tractor over his father but inadvertently gets his own hand trapped in the machinery, resulting in a quick stop-off at the hospital to be fitted with a claw/hook contraption before enjoying his new surroundings in the local asylum.
Upon release some years later, Matthew returns to the family home but is horrified to find his mother isn’t sat about moping about her son but has remarried and is getting on very-nicely-thank-you. Matthew’s love for his mother rather breaches the ‘traditional’ and it’s not long before he sets out to rescue her from her husband’s clutches by hacking him to death with an axe.
Alas, reconciliation talks with his mother end with her cracking her head on a rock, leaving mental Matt even more traumatised. Murdering a couple on his way to a new life in a new town, his sexual hangups lead him to kindly prostitute, Vera, whom he becomes increasingly protective of and vows to offer her a better life, achieving this by slaying the owner of a local mansion (and her pet dog, for good measure) and masquerading as the owner. Despite his efforts, Vera remains unimpressed, leading to Matthew tying up the object of his affections and keeping her captive. Can Vera escape the knots of a man with one hand?
Packed with gory deaths and an engagingly silly story, Scream Bloody Murder is top-notch low budget exploitation fare from a director who only made one other film (1969’s Wild Gypsies) and a lead actor (Fred Holbert) who decided not to chance his arm in any further roles, in all senses of the phrase.
Elsewhere, Leigh Mitchell, who plays the dual role of Vera and Daisy, appeared again in a small role in the similarly enjoyable The Incredible Melting Man in 1977. The most recognisable face is that of Matthew’s doctor, played by Angus Schrimm, best known as The Tall Man in the Phantasm franchise, appearing in one of his first screen roles.
The film succeeds, despite the best efforts of the character of Matthew who it’s difficult to have any sympathy for; everyone he kills is getting on with life without causing any upset, a fact that seems to enrage him. Psychologically damaged for no particular reason, it’s something of a novelty not to have a rambling back story explaining how he arrived at his madness, the pre-credit sequence of him killing his father already clarifying he’s a loon.
The film was marketed with typical 1970’s exploitation bravado, proclaiming it to be the first film classed as ‘gore-nograpghy’ and filmed in breath-taking ‘violent vision’ and ‘gory color’. To complete the effect, cinema-goers were supplied with a Scream Bloody Murder blindfold to shield them from the film’s bloody excesses!
Daz Lawrence, MOVIES and MANIA
“In-camera effects and some surprisingly good camera angles make the killings and fantasies very entertaining. Matthew should have used his claw more often, but at least he uses it at the end. Many scenes are too long, and many conversations repetitive, but the exploitation elements are well handled.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers
“Cheap and crazy, Scream Bloody Murder delivers on sights both sanguine and sick. The deaths look painful and Matthew’s sudden psychedelic visions of cackling witches are pretty scary, building to a berserk, incest-dipped climax in a church where you just know that nobody asked for permission to shoot “gore-nography!” Mike “McBeardo” McFadden, Heavy Metal Movies