The severed hand is surprisingly effective.
Gory details aside, the story feels familiar. Attractive young Catherine marries handsome young English nobleman Charles. They move into his ancestral manor. Strange things happen. Bumps in the night. Catherine sees visions of a man with a severed hand and empty, bleeding eye sockets. An unseen apparition rapes her in their marriage bed…
And don’t forget the severed hand. It’s always lurking about.
Catherine begins to suspect Charles is keeping something from her. She digs for the truth, but every time she gets close, someone ends up dead.
Soon, Catherine is pregnant. Charles, worried for her sanity, calls in Dr. Pope, played by Peter Cushing. Pope is like a non-believing Van Helsing in an atrocious wig. Though he’s window dressing tangential to plot, Peter Cushing’s always welcome.
But the script mishandles the mystery. Rather than dole out clues, it reveals everything in a single flashback before the film’s finale. This approach only works if the script leads the audience to a wrong conclusion before shocking them straight.
But we guess the big twist long before the script gets around to revealing it. Then we have to sit through the drawn out ending. The big reveal should be the climax, not precede it.
And that’s the film’s biggest problem. It overstays its welcome. Even at 91 minutes, it’s too long. Granted, the rain during the finale is a nice touch, but, then again, everything in the film looks great. It’s the execution that’s lacking. And Now the Screaming Starts has all the ingredients for solid gothic thriller. It just screws up the recipe.