Harry and Valerie Spalding arrive in the remote Cornish village to an unwelcoming and suspicious population. Harry's brother dies suddenly, bitten by a lethal reptilian bite. They befriend a young woman Anna whose tyrannical father controls her life and, as they discover that others in the village have suffered a similar fate, their investigations lead to Anna. What they uncover is a victim of the most terrifying legacy... a destiny of mutilation and murder.
I was hoping to experience a little more of the frisson I got from PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES (shot consecutively on some of the same sets) watching unexpectedly meek and good Jacqueline Pearce turn into the enthusiastically evil Jacqueline Pearce I know and love, but alas, Pearce is pretty much unrecognizable once the snake-demon prosthetics are applied and the moment is denied.
There's not a lot of story here and I'm not even sure what there is makes much sense, but even amidst such creakiness the film conveys an effective atmosphere of mystery and dread, throws out a few solid shocks and culminates in some breathless revelations followed by a moment of sublime madness. It's far from Hammer's finest, but it'll do.
A friend and I decided we'd view it at the same time while chatting online. Knowing she was experiencing the same bad movie I was made it all the better. She has not watched a movie with me again. Really though I loved the sets in here, same sets Hammer used in Plague of the zombies. This is another movie that screams remake, lots of potential. Liked the look of the Reptile.
Middling Hammer horror shot back to back with the far superior Plague of the Zombies using the same sets. Far too much build up for to a pay off that is all too brief. The monster make up is excellent however.
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…
Shot back-to-back with Plague Of The Zombies, The Reptile utilises the same sets and some of the cast from Plague to concoct an eminently watchable chiller. Solid performances, buckets of atmosphere and excellent cinemaphotography turn this into an enjoyable excursion that looks better than ever.
New Blu-ray from Studio Canal looks very good. A good cast, Michael Ripper has a nice substantial part to play.
I haven't seen this classic Hammer horror for ages so was quite excited to see what Studio Canal had done with the remastered Blu-ray version. I was suitably impressed with the transfer and, in particular, the remastering, and there's a fascinating Making Of... featurette on the disc too.
As for the film itself, OK, the make-up is not one of Hammer's best, but the story is still remarkably creepy and it has some great performances, not least from Jacqueline Pearce (aka Blake's 7's Servalan). One particular scene stands out: Pearce is playing a sitar for her father (Noel Willman) and the film's two heroes, Valerie and Harry Spalding (Jennifer Daniel and Ray Barrett). What starts out as entertainment soon transforms…
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
A typically hokey Hammer offering, the newly restored print is wonderful... which just makes it even easier to see the dodgy makeup, corpses that breathe and atrocious lighting. 60s Hammer has a place in film history. That doesn't mean the films are any good. More on the site.