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The Creeping Flesh

UK 1973
produced by
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

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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 ...

Eventually, Emmanuel 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 everything up?

 

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.

That 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 ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD