Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Burke and Hare|
Actors: Harry Andrews, Derren Nesbit
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
A weird look at history's most infamous body snatching duo
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 01/30/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"William Burke and William Hare are history's most infamous body snatchers, and the 1971 film The Horrors of Burke and Hare represents one version of their remarkable story. Unfortunately, the movie is just plain weird in a number of ways, and this takes away from the true horror of the events being chronicled. The year is 1828, and the place is Edinburg, Scotland. Medical schools want corpses, and the supply of dead prisoners just isn't enough to satisfy some university surgeons. Characters such as Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Herbert West might be willing to dig up dead bodies themselves, but the same cannot be said of the medical elite at illustrious universities. Dr. Robert Knox prefers to buy his cadavers, and he isn't too particular as to where they came from. Enter the evil odd couple of the malevolent, brooding Hare and his smooth-talking, supposedly less fiendish friend Burke. When a lodger in Hare's inn dies, Burke and Hare decide to sell the body, and they earn a whopping good price for him. The prospect of eight pounds per delivery quickly eliminates all of Burke's feigned misgivings. Simply waiting for people to die isn't the way to get rich quick, though, and the pair soon begins "helping along" a few old tramps and destitute women, developing a murder method that leaves no obvious evidence of their handiwork. Once their greedy wives find out where all the men's new money is coming from, they jump into the project with both feet. Burke and Hare eventually become less selective in their choices, thereby attracting attention to themselves (but not before killing 16 people). This movie doesn't follow the post-arrest events, but Burke was hanged while Hare escaped with his life (and basically nothing else) by turning King's evidence.As far as I am familiar with the true story of Burke and Hare, this film isn't that far off in terms of its presentation. It clearly does portray Burke as a likeable fellow who got sucked into this evil enterprise despite a few moral twinges early on, a bias that I can't buy into completely. Hare, for his part, is as bad as the devil incarnate from the very start. The transformation of Burke into unhappy but willing accomplice to point man of the operation is particularly interesting to watch. Unfortunately, the film also sports a subplot involving a young, naïve medical student and the prostitute he falls in love with. We are presented with a plethora of voyeuristic peeks into the brothel rooms as the lady of the house checks up on her clientele, and the activities we see range from the comical to the ridiculous. Transitioning back and forth between cold-blooded murder and men in costumes chasing half-naked women around a room takes much away from the infamous activities of Burke and Hare themselves. Then there is the music. The centerpiece is a song about Burke and Hare, but it is a jaunting little number that makes you want to tap your feet and swing your arms; frankly, I love the song, but it just doesn't fit the atmosphere of the film. Not only is it played at the opening and ending of the film, it also jumps out for a command performance in the immediate wake of what should be a disturbing murder. Put all of these strange aspects of the film together and you have one really weird film. It is actually fairly historical in terms of the crimes of Burke and Hare, but I would not consider it anything close to authoritative. I also think the story of these two men is more impressively presented in the 1959 film The Flesh and the Fiends starring Peter Cushing and, in the role of Hare, Donald Pleasance. There is really nothing gruesome about The Horrors of Burke and Hare, but those with an interest in the criminal annals of this body snatching duo will find much to interest (as well as bewilder) them here."