The Creeping Flesh (1973)


How can this image possibly be bad? Peter Cushing (star and protagonist of an endless list of horror classics) as a dedicated scientist on the verge of unraveling an entirely new evolution theory in which the existence of evil plays a crucial role. And Christopher Lee (once again, star and protagonist of an endless list of horror classics) as the over-ambitious president of an asylum, trying to steel Cushing’s ideas to add them to his book about ‘the origin of insanity’. These actors, along with their character’s vicious professions pretty much guarantee a dazzling horror premise already. If you then add a tight gothic atmosphere, overall decent special effects and loads of emotional intrigues, you’ve got yourself an authentic British horror highlight! And The Creeping Flesh isn’t even a Hammer production! Responsible for this film is Tigon Productions, who also brought us overlooked milestones such as `The Witchfinder General’ and `Blood on Satan’s Claw’. Cushing’s character (Dr. Hildern) is the discoverer of an ancient skeleton that might carry the secret of evil! When exposed to water, flesh immediately grows on the creature. Hildern develops an anti-evil vaccine, but has to use this same antidote on his lovely daughter Penelope when she finds out her beloved mother spend years in an asylum when she thought she was actually deceased already. Asylum keeper Lee – who’s also Dr. Hildern’s half brother – takes notice of the bizarre events going on in the Dr.’s mansion and hires somebody to steal the skeleton to increase his own success as an authority in the field of mental illnesses.

The only negative comment you could give on this film is that it actually contains TOO much ideas and horrific aspects. Regretfully, this sometimes results in underdeveloped plot-twists and a lack of continuity. There are enough horror-elements in The Creeping Flesh to fill 3 movies, really! But, despite these little flaws, this is one of the purest and most entertaining Cushing/Lee collaborations, brilliantly directed by the talented Freddie Francis (`Torture Garden’, `Tales from the Crypt…) The main actors, as well as the stunning Lorna Heilbron, are a joy to observe and the film is pretty darn suspenseful, too. All in one, a must see for the true horror fans.

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