THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS

(1959 Horror)



Dermot Walsh, Pleasence, Peter Cushing, and Rose examine the body



THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS
A review by THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HORROR MOVIES



Gilling's effective version of the dealings between the Scottish pioneer of surgery, Dr. Knox (Cushing), and the bodysnatchers Burke and Hare (Rose and Pleasence), marked his return to the genre after directing the first British vampire movie, Old Mother Riley Meets the Vampire (1952) and a science fantasy, The Gamma People (1956). Pleasence receives fit punishment Cushing's Knox is a coldly determined scientist, rather like his Frankenstein, for whom the ends justify the means and is nearly disgraced when it emerges that he turned a blind eye to the bodysnatchers' efforts to increase the supply of corpses by killing local down-and-outs. Caught after the murder of a prostitute (Whitelaw), Hare turns King's evidence to escape the gallows and Knox is forced to justify himself before a medical tribunal. Burke is hanged, Hare is lynched by an outraged mob who burn out his eyes, and Knox goes on to become one of Edinburgh's most renowned surgeons. Gilling's rather stereotypical and studiobound depiction of Edinburgh in the 1820s, with its grim slums and seedy taverns, shot in starkly contrasted, sharp-edged black and white images, provides an appropriate atmosphere. Pleasence and Rose tend to ham it up with fake accents, but otherwise the acting, especially Whitelaw's sinuous prostitute and Cushing's dignified scientist, is nicely straightforward without a hint of self-parody.

Producers Baker and Berman were responsible for a short series of horror movies including Blood of the Vampire and Jack the Ripper (both 1958) and the entertaining horror spoof, What a Carve-Up! (1961), but their work never seriously challenged the domination of Hammer. This story was later remade as Burke and Hare (1971).


From THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HORROR MOVIES

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HORROR MOVIES is available in paperback from AMAZON.COM

Review © 1986 Phil Hardy and HARPER AND ROW. All Rights Reserved.






[ BENJAMIN HALLIGAN (Review #1) | THE TIMES (Review #2) | PHOTOS ]






Above photo courtesy of Tim Murphy

Photos © 1959 TRIAD / VALIANT--PACEMAKER. All Rights Reserved.

Title and logo designed by Karen Rappaport





[ FILMS | HOME ]