C: Carry On Screaming (1966)

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This is one of those situations where we could easily make life very difficult for ourselves by indulging our fetish for completeness. Carry On Screaming is only one of a series of movies in a franchise, and indulging that fetish would involve watching at least one or two more movies in that series, and yet I believe I can safely say nuh uh, no way.

We will instead rely upon the Wikipedia entry, which informs us that it is the most successful franchise in the history of British cinema, comprised of 31 movies, 4 Christmas specials, a TV series and three stage plays. The humor on display was “in the British comic tradition of the music hall and bawdy seaside postcards” (a fairly entertaining rabbit hole to fall down). In short, they are fairly crass, vulgar (inasmuch as the social mores of the time allowed), and cheap to produce so they made money hand over fist. And we are watching Carry On Screaming because it is the series’ parody of Hammer movies.

The fairly Byzantine plot involves the living dead-ish Doctor Watt (Kenneth Williams) who has a square-headed Frankensteinian monster named Oddbod (Tom Clegg) kidnap young women to be made into mannequins for the fashion trade. Complicating this odd scheme is the investigation of Detective Sergeant Bung (Harry H. Corbett), and the fact that pieces of Oddbod keep falling off. In this case, a finger, leading Bung and his assistant Slobotham (Peter Butterworth) to suspect something is amiss.

The medical examiner (a welcome cameo by pre-Doctor Who Jon Pertwee, who was better lknown as a comic actor at the time, and appeared in four of these) runs electricity through the dismembered finger, which, through the miracle of mad science, results in two Oddbods and one less medical examiner. Bung forces Slobotham to dress in drag in an effort to flush out the kidnapper, resulting in Bung’s harridan wife (Joan Sims) being convinced that he is having an affair.

Mixed in with all this is Dr. Watt’s continuing efforts to revive an ancient mummy named Rubbatiti (these are the jokes, folks), and – the high point for me – Watt’s sister Valeria (Fenella Fielding) an ultra-vamp who seems to be Elvira’s grandmother. Supernaturally sexy, and able to distract Bung by simply being in the room. Well, golly, me too.

I had seen photos of Carry On Screaming seemingly forever – Famous Monsters seemed to run pictures of Oddbod quite a bit, and those photos would also crop up in overviews of horror movies. There was a period around 1982 when my stress release on Friday evenings involved a hit of acid and viewing SCTV, followed by a delayed broadcast of ABC’s Fridays (this was about the only circumstances that rendered Fridays actually funny). And one evening after Fridays, there it was, at about 2am on one of the local UHF stations: Carry On Screaming. So this sober re-visit actually confirmed my opinion of that bizarre night: the humor is puerile and predictable, the movie is mostly harmless, and Fenella Fielding is sexy as hell.

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