The naughty finger...
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 06/10/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Creeping Flesh (1973), originally produced by Tigon Pictures and directed by Freddie Francis, a man fairly well known to fans of films from Hammer Studios and Amicus Productions (The Studio That Dripped Blood), brings together two screen legends in Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee (they appeared in a total of 22 films together over the years) in a slightly fantastic tale of things evil and nasty.Peter Cushing stars as Emmanuel Hilden, a 19th century scientist, involved in the study of human evolution, recently returning from an expedition to New Guinea with what he believes to be a find of epic proportions in that of a rather grotesque looking skeleton, humanoid in appearance, but much larger than any man. Emmanuel sees innumerable opportunities associated with this find, and believes it's his ticket to recognition and lucrative scientific grant monies. On arriving home to England with his boney buddy, we meet Emmanuel's comely daughter, Penelope, played by Lorna Heilbron. Seems she's been holding down the fort, and things have been pretty tight, money-wise, as she's had to let go of two of the three or four servants employed at the house (talk about being in dire straits). Oh yes, Emmanuel's wife and Penelope's mother, Marguerite, has long since passed, or, at least that's what we're lead to believe.Emmanuel's half-brother, James Hilden (Christopher Lee), who runs a mental asylum, sends word that Emmanuel's wife, who was an inmate, has just died, to which Emmanuel goes to the asylum to collect her personal papers and such, and we learn that James, who has been financing his half-brother's expeditions, is cutting Emmanuel off, and that James is on the verge of a scientific breakthrough dealing with curing insanity or some such thing. One can't help notice there seems to be a bit of jealously in the relationship, coming from James towards Emmanuel.Anyway, Emmanuel returns home, and begins studying his find. In cleaning part of the skeleton with water (its' finger bone), he notices the part he cleaned with water begins growing flesh...ew...in examining a blood sample (it differs slightly from humans) and reading some dusty tomes, Emmanuel concludes he's found the source of evil, and that evil is not so much a concept but a disease, a plague, and something that one can be inoculated against. He seems to prove this by testing his newly developed serum on a monkey, and fearing that his daughter may suffer the same fate as her mother, possibly madness passed in the genes, he gives the serum to his daughter. Well, we see that the initial success with the monkey didn't last long, and Emmanuel's assistant comments that thankfully they didn't test the serum out on a human test subject (he didn't know about Emmanuel's injecting Penelope). So what happens? The madness overtakes Penelope, brought on by the effects of the injection from her father, and she runs away, only to end up in James' asylum after she commits various crimes involving murder. Obviously James recognizes her, and brings her back to Emmanuel's home, discovers Emmanuel's notes on his recent experiments, and sees the possibilities of incorporating Emmanuel's work into his own, which Emmanuel strongly declines, so James decides to make arrangements to steal his half-brother's work. Unsure of how the skeleton comes into play, but knowing it's a crucial element, he steals it, riding away with it in his carriage. Emmanuel realizes what happens, and begins pursuit. Oh yeah, it also starts raining. Do you think the skeleton, the one that reacted to the water when Emmanuel tried to clean it, will get wet? Count on it...what happens next? You'll just have to watch...I thought the concept of evil being a disease, something which may be curable, to be a pretty original notion within the film. Cushing was great as the scientist swept up with visions of ridding society of evil, allowing for a, in his words, a new paradise on Earth. His character certainly falls into the category of the scientist with the best intentions, not foreseeing the dangers until it's too late. Lee was also wonderful as the greedy, resentful half-brother, living in the shadow of Emmanuel's achievements, capitalizing on an opportunity when it presents itself, not fully realizing the implications but seeing only the chance for personal gain. Some of the elements of the story seemed a bit slipshod, kind of like they were assembled of ill-fitting pieces, specifically designed to move the plot along. And I was hoping to see more of the creature, but, from what little we do see, it was probably for the best as it was kind of funky, probably due to budgetary constraints. The scenes with the creature's flesh covered severed finger were suitably disgusting, but I'll be darned if that appendage didn't look like some sort of battery-powered martial aid. (Keep in mind the creature was like seven or eight feet tall, and had proportionally sized fingers.) While the movie wasn't particularly scary, it was definitely creepy, and kept my interest all the way through the end. One thing that annoyed me a little was habit of hearing spoken dialog played again later on as a character would recall it within their mind. Seeing as how we were there the first time the dialog was spoken aloud, I didn't see the need to remind us of the pertinent information relayed through a character's inner dialog, as if to aid us, the viewer, in following along. It seemed a bit patronizing, and unnecessary. I did love the ending, despite the huge loose plot thread left dangling with regards to the creature. Maybe it was meant to be that way, left to our speculation. Columbia Tristar Home Video provides a very nice looking wide screen print here. The audio seemed a bit soft at times, but there are English subtitles, which I made use of...the only thing in regards to extras available is an original theatrical trailer. Cookieman108"
NOT a Hammer Film--But Good Creepy Fun Anyway
cookieman108 | 03/21/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Several reviewers have erroneously identified this as a film from the great Hammer Films. It's not--"The Creeping Flesh" is an Amicus production, from one of Hammer's British rivals. However, this has the great gothic horror atmosphere that was one of Hammer's trademarks. And it has Lee and Cushing, perennial Hammer stars, in wonderful performances. The plot is surprisingly complex, with some neat twists, and the creature, when it appears, is memorable. Recommended for all fans of horror who believe that plot, not f/x, matter."
BRITISH CINEMA AT IT'S BEST
cookieman108 | 03/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Long before the existence of turgid costume dramas like HOWARD'S END and THE REMAINS OF THE DAY there was a British cinematic movement that believed in entertaining the viewer. THE CREEPING FLESH was one of last triumphs of this great tradition.
All the best elements of hammer horror appear in this classic: beautiful photography, atmospheric direction, the study of evil, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee (only the great Andre Morell is absent). This classic contains horror, philosophy, comedy and typically great performances from lee and Cushing. It's not my favourite Hammer film (there are about 10 others I love as much and even more) but it's still a great film.
Alas, we British no longer want to make films like this, we seem to want to make boring costume dramas and tired "realistic" dramas about how limited modern life is. I say TO HELL WITH REALITY, WATCH HAMMER HORROR!in response to the reviewer from Canada, yes this is not a hammer film, but neither is it an Amicus production... it is, along with the Ghoul, in fact a Tyburn production, which is what hammer turned into. I can't remember amicus making many decent films (beast must die and the skull are a hoot though)"
Wonderful movie !!!!!!
movie reviewer | California | 07/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This horror movie is so good, that is hard not to give it 5 stars!!!! Perfect to watch on a Halloween night!!!!"