Things Roddy said during Face of the Screaming Werewolf

Every year at Christmastime, we are visited by a jolly fat man in a red hat:

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Face of the beaming Watson.

Fiona’s brother Roderick. The fun never stops when he’s around. Since he has Williams Syndrome, and since he’s not terribly mobile, he can’t really make his own entertainment — except by talking. So the T.V. comes in very handy, and fortunately Roddy agrees with us about horror movies — even when they’re bad, they’re good.

Like a Benshi film describer, or Tod Slaughter narrating his own death in a melodramatic fashion, Roddy keeps up a running commentary during most movies, considerably more eloquent and informative than any of Tim Burton’s director’s commentaries, and with fewer stretches of numbing silence.

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The movie begins as a comely Mexican lady is sent into hypnotic trance by a special machine.

“What’s that sound? What’s the matter with her?” (Eagerly) “Has she been bitten by the werewolf?”

As the woman sinks into coma, a small boy crawls into the lab and hides under a table. At first I thought he was her hallucination, but he’s not. This is my favouritest thing in the whole film, because it’s never explained. But then, very little is explained. I think the geniuses (genii?) who dubbed the movie decided to cut all the boring plot stuff.

In her trance state, the woman experiences a vision of dusty mesas (mesae?) and pyramids.

“Where’s that? Is that Transylvania?”

Some Indians appear.

“Is this to do with Indians or something?”

(Roddy notices I’m jotting down these notes. I feel guilty.) “What’s that you’re writing?” (Looks at squiggles.) “Mmmm!”

The Indians begin a ceremony deep within their pyramid, which involves a lot of walking about.

“Why are they walking about, David?”

After what seems like twenty minutes of walking about, there is a sacrifice, and we cut to our modern-day hypnotic conquistadores entering the tomb, followed by the small boy, who’s sneaked after them. We still don’t know who anyone is.

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Something shambles about in the darkness.

“I ken what that is — the mummy! Am I right? Is that a woman or a man? I can’t tell.”

A sound.

“Is that a wolf?”

The scientists retrieve a female mummy, and Lon Chaney, who turns out to be a modern man who’s transfused himself with mummy juices in order to bring about “a state of death”. But we never learn why. Scientists put Lon in a big machine, which makes a noise.

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 “What’s that noise?”

“A machine.”

“What kind of machine? Where is he — can’t see the mummy! What’s that funny noise?”

“Another machine.”

“Looks like Frankenstein. Wow, that’s some storm, is it?” (Seems to be a Dundonian habit: saying “is it?” instead of “isn’t it?”) “Cheesy peeps!” (This is an exclamation of awe unique to Roddy.) “What’s happening now? Oh my God!”

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I like how Lon rests his jowls on the window sill, in a rather defeatist manner, just before beginning his wolf-out.

Lon Chaney, his apparatus struck by lightning, comes to life, turns into a werewolf, and gores people. I decide that poor Lon must have taken the mummy transfusion as a cure for his lycanthropy, and now these science guys have guffed it up. But this hypothesis is never confirmed.

“Where’s the werewolf? Hmm-hm!”

Lon changes back to non-hairy. Some more stuff happens.

“Is he going to change into a werewolf, do you think?”

He does.

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“Oh my God, the werewolf’s scary, eh?”

Lon creeps up on a sleeping scientist. Roddy finds this particularly exciting.

“Oh, watch this, watch — he’s asleep still, is he? Watch this, watch! Oh my God, ho-ho! Got himnow! Oh-oh! Something’s happened to him. My God. Look at that mist!”

We return to the subplot of the mummy woman, who abducts a little girl. No idea why.

“How can a mummy be a woman? A mummy is supposed to be a man. Where’s she taking her? What’s that noise? Is she taking her away? What’s happening there?”

Now Roddy gets slightly sidelined from the plot:

“I would like to be in a horror film. I would be a vampire. I’d be pretty scary.”

I dare to express doubt.

“I would if I had real fangs, like Christopher Lee.”

I suggest that Christopher Lee does not, in civilian life, have real fangs.

“What do you mean?”

I elaborate.

“That’s what I was saying.” (Vampire voice.) “I’m Roderick, from Transylvania.’ I’d be a good vampire, I would.”

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Meanwhile, a scientist manages to get Lon Chaney locked in a cage.

“Uh-oh, the wolf’s in trouble, he can’t open the gate. Oh, he’s got it. Nae trouble! Where’s he going now? Is he in the forest? Is that a woman and a man? What’s he doing now? That’s the police. Do you think they’ll catch him?”

The wolfman starts stalking a woman. Roddy gets very tense.

“Uh oh. Ssshh! Watch this. Uh-oh. Uh-oh. Uh-oh. He’s getting closer and closer to that woman. What’s going to happen now? Uh oh. David… I heard something. What? Uh-oh! Uh-oh!”

Having crept into the woman’s home, Lon Chaney is startled by his own reflection in her mirror.

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“Ha ha, he got himself a fleg!” (“Fleg” = Dundonian word for “a fright”.) Ah, she locked him in, good one! That means he can’t get out. Uh-oh!”

He gets out. The woman hits him with a vase.

“Nice one, got him a good one, on his head. ‘At’sa cracker! Give him a punch on the nose, that’ll sort him out. Heh!”

Lon’s nose does look pretty tender. But he overpowers the woman and carries her off.

“God’s sake, woman! What happens if the police catch him, that’ll be it, won’t it?”

My favourite bit of action — Lon climbs a building, while carrying the woman. A white-coated scientist follows him. The image of a lab guy climbing a building is a pleasing one.

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Somehow we get from here to another fight, with chairs being smashed over Lon.

“Nice one! Hey — oh — nice one! Oh, hey, he hit him first! Watch this one — here we go — watch this — oh, that’s a good idea. Oh hey, you idiot, no’ him! It’s the wolf, you idiot.”

Lon is incinerated. The police arrive, too late to do anything, and calmly dismiss all reports of monsters as the overactive imagination of the stupid public.

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“It’s the bobbies, look.”

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STOP PRESS: Here’s Roddy’s capsule review of ALIENS.

“That took a while to sort out.”

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12 Responses to “Things Roddy said during Face of the Screaming Werewolf”

  1. Useless observation of the day: That top photo of Roderick looks like it was taken aboard a private jet!

  2. That’s why he’s so happy!
    The blue light in the background is not actually a window, it’s the computer upon which I am currently typing this.

    I assumed that Jerry Warren, who dubbed FOTSW, removed all the explanatory material, but it’s even better than that — he cobbled together two entirely separate Mexican horror films, one with a mummy and one with a werewolf. And his reason for cutting the dialogue was simply to save money on dubbing. Apparently the original movie with Chaney, playing the wolfman for the last time, is pretty good — it did seem to supply all the best sequences.

  3. Well, by sharing with Roddy The Face Of The Screaming Werewolf, you are taking him on a flight of fancy. I must say, just reading the title of this post before diving into the text I thought you were going to write about Roddy McDowell. I think it’s great that he shares the same enthusiasm for horror films that you and Fiona possess. I think in my heart of hearts I much prefer Halloween to Christmas at this point in time, I’ll take a wet-nosed werewolf over a red-nosed reindeer any day.

  4. Fiona can’t recall for sure whether Roddy was watching horror films before her, or got into them because she liked them. The Saturday night double bills on 70s BBC2 had a lot to do with it, either way.

    Halloween would be better if the TV companies here got behind it — even when the day falls on a weekend, the most you can usually expect is a very literal-minded screening of one Halloween film. Yet there are plenty of monster movies suitable for a family audience which could be shown. And instead of the Xmas special, Dr Who should do something for Halloween!

  5. I spent part of my childhood watching Saturday night horror double features as well, but this was in the mid-Sixties. There was even a host, a man in a wheelchair with a shawl over his lap who wore a fedora above opaque sunglasses and a goatee, all in black (or looked to be, I was watching B&W, not color). His name: Christopher Coffin. Here in the States TCM does jump on the bandwagon come October, they are pretty generous in their array of offerings.

  6. What do you mean, Christopher Lee doesn’t have fangs??

  7. Here he is:

    Guess I was wrong about the shawl, and I didn’t remember the white ascot. But it has been forty years since I last laid eyes on him. Isn’t the internet amazing?

  8. He looks like a groovy ghoul!

    Paul Thomas Anderson’s dad, Ghoulardi.
    I can only recall one UK attempt at a horror host, in the 90s — some Shakespearian thsep in heavy prosthetics. His material wasn’t good enough — or bad enough — for him to catch on.
    I do think that introductions for movies is a nice idea.
    I expect Seamus McGarvey has Christopher Lee’s fangs, along with Nicole Kidman’s nose, as part of his plan to assemble the perfect actor from scrap.

  9. I remember him. That was Guy Henry under all that face. He was pretty much as good as that gets I thought. Vair dry. But yes, maybe he should have been worse.

  10. If Steve Coogan had done Dr Terrible’s House of Horrible and ommitted the actual show, just introducing some old films, that would have been better than the pitiful series he did.

    Yeah, Guy Henry. It was fine, but it didn’t add anything new to the idea. Oh, the Sci-Fi Channel had Sci-Fright, introduced by Nina Hagen and then by Rachel Grant. The material was absolutely incredibly lousy, but the gals were very good. Maybe what the format needs is a busty lady (or a mad bitch like NH) to disarm criticism.

  11. OMG, as the young people say, I know Guy Henry! And had forgotten his horror host career. If you’ve ever heard of a performer called Sir Gideon Vein (played by Tony Green, a wonderfully – unusual – person), I tried to help him find his true vocation as a horror host, and went so far as to shoot a couple of demos (one for Murder by Decree, one for Theatre of Blood), which were pretty great but never did the trick. Must try to dig them out and YouTube them.

  12. I don’t think Dr Terror caught on because as time went on his disdain for the films he was introducing grew and grew! I suppose we would all get jaded if we had to say something about A Child For Satan or The Beast In The Cellar! There are a couple of Dr Terror Youtube clips. The first:

    http://tinyurl.com/7ekql8

    was from that all night horror film marathon BBC2 did in 1992 (which caused me to miss the big story of that night, the BBC1 screening of Ghostwatch!)

    I must admit that I was much more interested and excited by the way the BBC2 logo was horror-ified for the night than Dr Terror – that clip shows the electrical jolt one and I seem to remember another showed the logo getting chainsawed in half! A ‘normal’ BBC2 logo showed a sliver of silk getting splashed with paint (for some reason) and so for the horror night it got splashed with blood instead! Lots of fun!

    The other:

    http://tinyurl.com/8l5ctl

    is from the first 1994 season. I actually remember having a schoolmate over and doing homework when this was first screened (I can even remember the other programmes on that night: Bruce Forsyth’s Generation Game, the Michael Douglas Black Rain and then this!)

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