Director: Pete Walker
Shriek Show/Media Blasters

Despite the title and the fact that it's often referred to as "Pete Walker's first horror film," this is basically the director's attempt at a Hitchcock-like thriller. Walker was inspired by the 1946 classic GILDA with Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford, but later stated that the envisioned characters and events created on paper did not translate properly to the screen, and he ultimately was not happy with the casting. In the leads are pouty-faced blond cutie Susan George and Barry Evans (Walker would have preferred Ian McShane but he was "too expensive").

After the "shagadelic" opening featuring George go-going about in front of a crimson backdrop, we are introduced to her character, dancer Marianne MacDonald, a promiscuous and free-spirited bird. Marianne is being chased by some thugs in Portugal, so she hitches a ride with Sebastian Smith (Christopher Sanford) who takes her to his home in London and convinces her to marry him. Marianne reluctantly agrees, but she sabotages the ceremony by writing the name of the best man, Eli Frome (Evans), on the wedding certificate.

It is discovered that Marianne's father (played by British character actor Leo Genn, who also worked for Jess Franco and Lucio Fulci around the same time) is a corrupt judge trying to get a hold of a huge sum of money and incriminating documents which Marianne's mother secreted in a Swiss bank before her death. Marianne is the only one who knows the number of the account, and she's still in London becoming very attached to her "husband" Eli. Her would-be groom Sebastian was actually hired by the judge to bring Marianne back to Portugal, and after a botched assassination attempt on Eli, the happy couple is escorted back to pop and his entourage of unethical cronies who are intent on snuffing them out.

With enough shifty characters and crafty scenario-switching between scenic Portugal and mod London, DIE SCREAMING MARIANNE will satisfy some with a taste for kitsch British films of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Others will be displeased with its deceiving plot build-ups that fall flat and don't pay off. Most of the acting is lifeless, except for a delightfully wicked turn by Judy Huxtable (THE PSYCHOPATH, SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN) as Marianne's half-sister, but fans of Susan George will want to embrace this early starring role regardless.

Although I hated the film when I first saw it many years ago on video through the old Unicorn label, I better appreciated it after seeing Image Entertainment’s release of a few years ago, which restored about 15 minutes of missing footage. Shriek Show’s updated DVD (also uncut) presents the film in a much cleaner transfer, with hardly any blemishes, nice colors and natural fleshtones. The film is presented in its proper 1.85:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement, getting rid of the awkward open matte space in the old Image transfer (George's bra was in frame while she was taking a bubble bath!). Two solid audio options present the English audio in mono or 5.1.

An audio commentary with director Walker is included, as moderated by Jonathan Rigby. The talk is not always scene specific, but a lot of tidbits about the cast, as well as other actors in the industry at the time, are touched upon, and it’s actually an entertaining listen, especially if you like 1970s U.K. cinema. The film’s British theatrical release on a double bill with “Dracula VS. Frankenstein” (aka ASSIGNMENT TERROR), a brief usage of split screen, a phone call from Sam Peckinpah and the controversy that stirred up halfway through the production are among the other topics discussed. Also included is the original trailer, a nice still gallery, brief notes on the film, and trailers for other titles in “The Pete Walker Collection.” (George R. Reis)