In 1893, scientist Peter Cushing returns home with a remarkable find: a giant skeleton, whichturns out to belong to a being that was the very incarnation of evil. Where water touches thebones, flesh regenerates, and Cushing isolates the blood cells that contain evil. Obsessed withprotecting his daughter from the insanity that destroyed his wife, he attempts to inoculate her.His experiment goes horribly wrong, and also attracts the attention of half-brother and scientificriv…l Christopher Lee.
Very much in the vein of Hammer horror films (and directed by gifted DP Freddie Francis,who directed his share of Hammers), The Creeping Flesh is a fine example of what thehorror film can do so well: give flesh to abstract ideas. The notion of evil as a contagious diseaseis preposterous, of course, but the film makes it also a compelling one by tying the unleashingof the monster to the horrors that subsequently engulfed the 20th Century. At the level ofcharacters, the film is an excellent dramatization of patriarchal panic. In his effort to stamp outany form of sexuality in his daughter, Cushing warps it into the very monstrosity he so fears. Ohyeah, and there’s some nice, spooky atmosphere, too.
The mono soundtrack has a strong volume level (with occasional fluctuations), and is freeof hiss and distortion. There is a little bit of buzz on some of the dialogue, but by and large thesound gets the job done.
The picture is solid, particularly for a low-budget, 1972 effort. After the opening credits, thegrain drops to minimal levels, and the print is in very good shape, barring a few speckles. Thereis some flicker present throughout the film, generating minor colour fluctuation (though thecolours are generally strong). On the other hand, the edge enhancement is very slight, and theimage is sharp. It is also nice to finally see the film in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Trailers for 13 Ghosts, Mr. Sardonicus and The Revenge ofFrankenstein. That’s it.
A smart, atmospheric, complex gothic horror film, one whose DVD release is extremelywelcome.
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