Watched Jul 13, 2012
David Merryweather’s review:
So, in the mid-sixties Hammer execs hit upon a plan to keep costs down by shooting four movies back to back, utilising the same sets wherever possible. The last of the four to be made - when the money had all but run out - was The Reptile.
Though it is not exactly one of their best, it plays as if it is a distillation of every classic Hammer film. All of the ingredients are here: a remote location, a young couple trying to uncover the truth behind mysterious deaths, a creaky old mansion with hidden rooms, nervous locals muttering dark yet opaque warnings, a dabbling scientist and his strange henchman, a family curse... you name it. It also has a great, memorable monster in the scaly form of Cobra-Girl - who, sadly, but astutely, is kept offscreen for virtually all of the screentime, making its appearance towards the end of the film all the more effective.
It is undeniably very formulaic (which doesn't really hurt films like this), but it makes up for it in atmosphere and suspense, both of which it has by the bucket-load. And a young Jacqueline Pearce (before she became Servalan from Blake's 7) stands out from a solid supporting cast as the exotic daughter of the stern, strange Dr. Franklyn. There's one interesting scene where she plays a sitar - a souvenir of the Doctor's colonialist misadventures - which is at least notable for the fact that it introduced this instrument to a western audience at about the same time as The Beatles did.
That's possibly the only way The Reptile was ahead of any curve, but it is looking better than ever in its restored state on Blu-ray, and it more than deserves a spell out of the shadow of its more well known Hammer horrors.