In Comments on the previous post about Julian Doyles forthcoming ‘Chemical Wedding’, JR made a remark that reminded me of a film that I saw quite some years ago – a cinematic treasure that I feel is my duty to introduce to all my devoted Acowlytes. Running with the tagline A Corpse is Bait in the Trap of Terror!, Michael Findlay’s Shriek of the Mutilated (1974) is a work that makes Plan 9 From Outer Space (a film widely held to be ‘the worst of all time’) look like Citizen Kane. Sure, there are many, many bad films – miles of wasted celluloid that is boring and incompetent and just plain unwatchable – but films like ‘Shriek’ fall into a very special category: Cinema that is so bad that it is entertaining.

I first saw SOTM sometime in the mid ’80s on late night tv, after I’d come home (relatively) early from a dull party and warmed up the tube to see what was on. A scene of a man attacking a woman with a broken gin bottle flickers into view, lots of slashing, lots of very fake-looking blood. Ho-hum. The man makes his way to the bathroom and fills up the tub, inexplicably climbing in fully clothed. Hmmm… I stay my hand from the off switch… Meanwhile, we find that the woman, lying ripped and bloodied on the kitchen floor is not dead. Slowly, painfully, she grabs the cord of the toaster, pulling it from the bench above and with her last remaining strength pushes it with agonizing effort down the corridor and into the bathroom, where she lobs it into the bath thereby electrocuting the man to death.

Awwright!!! I’m hooked! This couple has a toaster on a fifty-foot extension cord! With shameless disregard for the laws of reality like that at the fore, the film was plainly a work of genius! I fired the VHS into record (because my sixth sense told me I was watching a very rare event that might never repeat itself), rustled myself up some toasted cheese sandwiches and sat down for the most entertaining late-night movie fare of my life.

JR’s comment prompted me to see what I could find out about SOTM after all these years, and to my immense excitement I uncovered a YouTube vid of a trailer for the film. And, unlike most trailers of the modern era, it actually does capture a fairly true representation of the film you’re going to see, without giving away the best bits! So, without further ado, let’s crank up the Wurlitzer and give you a little taste of the kind of cinematic genius that they just don’t know how to deliver anymore (by the way, this is one of the very few film trailers where you can play ‘Spot the Armadillo’ – watch carefully, it’s cunningly disguised…):

“Sometimes… it almost sounds like… something human…”


*Just one of countless memorable quotes from the film.