Carry on Vamping
When Albert Potter's (Jim Dale - Carry on Cowboy) girlfriend suddenly goes missing he finds himself assisting Detective Sergeant Sidney Bung (Harry H. Corbett) and his assistant Detective Constable Slobotham (Peter Butterworth - Carry on Emmannuelle) who are already investigating a series of other cases where women have mysteriously disappeared. Everything leads them to the creepy home of Doctor Orlando Watt (Kenneth Williams - Carry on Cleo) and his sister Valeria (Fenella Fielding - Carry on Regardless) who unbeknown to the detectives have been sending out their slave, Oddbod (Tom Clegg), to kidnap women so they can turn them into mannequins. But with the creepy goings on being a little to scary and the vampish charms of Valeria distracting Detective Bung it seems like they may get away with their crimes.
For many Sid James epitomised the "Carry On" movies but ironically it is his absence due to illness and Harry H. Corbett stepping in to what would have been his part that is one of the reasons why "Carry on Screaming!" is for me one of the better "Carry On" movies. Other reasons why it is an improbement on others in a surprisingly long running franchise include a better storyline, better jokes and some fun performances which all combine to make it fun, something which was not always the case. From Jim Dale delivering a Norman Wisdom-esque performance through to Fenella Fielding vamping it up as Valeria Watt in a figure hugging red dress, "Carry on Screaming!" works and for those who think the "Carry On" movies were just weak comedies full of sexual innuendo should check it out.
Often one of my criticisms of "Carry On" movies is that rather than having a storyline they were built around set piece gags, but "Carry on Screaming!" is most certainly different. The story takes us back to Victorian times and the character of Detective Sergeant Sidney Bung, a character in the style of Sherlock Holmes with an assistant in the form of the slightly inept Detective Constable Slobotham. And what they are doing is investigating a case of missing women which leads them to the creepy house belonging to the even creepier Doctor Orlando Watt and his sister Valeria Watt who along with their creations raised from the dead are behind the missing women because they are turning them into mannequins. It's an utterly daft storyline with a nod to Hammer horror but at the same time so much fun especially with all the in-jokes and the occasional double entendre. But it is also because that whilst the focus of the movie is about the laughs you still have to follow the storyline, which isn't in the least bit complicated.
But of course being a "Carry On" movie the focus of "Carry on Screaming!" as already mentioned is the laughs and to be honest whilst a lot of the jokes are both obvious and amusingly daft there is the occasional moment of cleverness. There is a great gag where Doctor Watt is asked his name and after a little confusion about Watt is his name we then get a mention that his uncle is Doctor Who but he hasn't seen him for a while, it's amusing when you pick up on the double meaning and even more amusing with a small part for John Pertwee. That cleverness extends to when Harry H. Corbett as Detective Sergeant Sidney Bung drives in his car and there is a bit of the "Z-Cars" theme played yet later on when he goes somewhere by horse and cart you get the "Steptoe and Son" music. It's these little bits of amusing cleverness that help to make "Carry on Screaming!" funnier than so many other "Carry On" movies yet it still manages to deliver the double entendres and the very occassional bit of sexual innuendo.
All of this makes "Carry on Screaming!" a very good movie and the irony of Sid James being unable to appear due to illness actually helps make it even better. Now I like Sid James but what Harry H. Corbett as Detective Sergeant Sidney Bung brings to the movie is just brilliant and watching him create the character you just think that if it had been Sid James it would have been totally different and probably not as good. It also helps that with various "Carry On" regulars such as Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey and Jim Dale the scenes are spread out between them all. But it is the wonderful Fenella Fielding who steals the show as Valeria Watt partly because she looks stunning in the figure hugging red dress but because she vamps it up beautifully. And whilst being amusing everything she does is delivered with dead pan sincerity which in a way makes it even funnier.
What this all boils down to is that "Carry on Screaming!" is easily one of the better "Carry On" movies thanks mainly because whilst still all about the comedy it is built around a fun storyline. And whilst in many ways Sid James epitomised the "Carry On" movies his enforced absence due to illness and Harry H. Corbett stepping in to his role only helps make it better. But it is the wonderful Fenella Fielding who steals the show partly down to that red dress but also because she vamps her character up brilliantly.
Tags: Carry On Movies