The Creeping Flesh
Michael P.Redbourn, Tony Tenser (executive), Norman Priggen (executive) for Tigon, World Film Services
directed by Freddie Francis
starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Lorna Heilbron, George Benson (II), Kenneth J. Warren, Duncan Lamont, Harry Locke, Hedger Wallace, Michael Ripper, Catherine Finn, Robert Swann, David Bailie, Maurice Bush, Tony Wright, Marianne Stone, Alexandra Dane, Jenny Runacre, Larry Taylor, Martin Carroll, Dan Meaden
written by Peter Spenceley, Jonathan Rumbold, music by Paul Ferris
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Englnd, the Victorian age: Mild-mannered and absent-minded professor
Emmanuel (Peter Cushing) returns from his trip to New Guinea with a new
skeleton, a sort of super-Nenanderthal ... and wouldn't you know it, once
you sprinkle a bit of water onto the skeleton, it grows back its flesh,
but for the moment, prof Emmanuel figures it's not such a good idea to let
the super-Neanderthal become all flesh again - especially since his
researech reveals the creature could be pure evil. Soon, the professor
extracts blood from the creatures finger to produce an evil-serum with the
lofty goal to make everyone on the world immune to evil.
In a more or
less seperate narrative thread, Emmanuel's wife (Jenny Runacre) has just
died in the asylum of Emmanuel's estranged half-brother James (Christopher
Lee), and when Emmanuel's daughter Penelope (Lorna Heilbron), whom he has
told her mom has died years ago, finds that out, she's understandably
upset ... and for some reason that prompts the professor to inject her
with the evil serum - which for some reason makes her to dress up as a
prostitute and go to a dancehall near the harbour, where she wreaks havoc
and is finally arrested after killing an escaped lunatic (Kenneth
J.Warren). However, brother James gets his hands on her and returns her to
Emmanuel ... where he finds out about Emmanuel's research and figures he
needs to have the super-Neanderthal skeleton - which a thief of his trust
drops into water though, and thus the skeleton turns into a homicidal
monster. On top of that, Penelope escapes her father's supervision, and
both she and the monster go on a killing spree ...
lands in his brother James' asylum, but now James claims he's not his
brother but merely his doctor. So was whatever had happened real in the
first place, or is Emmanuel an actual loonie who has only dreamed
Even at the time of its release, The Creeping
Flesh was a bit on the old-fashioned side, reminiscent more of 1960's
horror cinema in the Hammer
tradition than anything contemporary. What's more though, this film is
really incredibly poorly scripted, it's over-convoluted, makes little
sense most of the time (even in the horror realm, where much more is
possible than in the real world) and is crammed with subplots that have no
relation to one another and often even unnecessarily complicate things.
all said though, The Creeping Flesh is not really a bad film, as it
has two saving graces, its brilliant cast and the directorial effort by
Freddie Francis, that might seem a bit old-fashioned, but Francis does his
best (and mostly succeeds, even) to create the proper atmosphere and
squeeze the incoherent narrative into a coherent cinematic whole - and
given the script he had to work with, he works wonders ...