THE CREEPING FLESH
Directed by Freddie Francis
Produced by Michael Redbourn
Written by Peter Spenceley & Jonathan Rumbold
Director of Photograpy Norman Warwick
Music by Paul Ferris
Cast: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Lorna Heilbron, George Benson
1973/92 mins/Color/Dolby Mono
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment DVD
The recent releases FREDDY VS. JASON and VAN HELSING, as well as the upcoming ALIENS VS. PREDATOR have revived an old horror movie tradition; teaming up legendary monsters in one film. Many of the old Universal classics would include multiple monsters, and they would also tout the movie's stars as well, as these films often included actors who were renowned in the world of horror. Such is the case with the 1973 film THE CREEPING FLESH, which stars horror stalwarts Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Unfortunately, the film can't live up to the promise of those two huge names.
Set in 1894, THE CREEPING FLESH opens with Professor Emmanuel Hildern (Peter Cushing) returning from an expedition in New Guinea with a giant skeleton, which he believes to be an ancient humanoid. His daughter, Penelope (Lorna Heilbron) is delighted to see him, but disappointed when their reunion is cut short by her father's obsession with the skeleton. Emmanuel soon visits with his half-brother, Dr. James Hildern (Christopher Lee), the director of the local mental institution. James informs Emmanuel that he will no longer finance his brother's research. This only drives Emmanuel to work harder on the skeleton, which he soon learns will grow flesh when in comes into contact with water. Emmanuel believes that the skeleton is pure evil and that he can use it to find a cure for evil in mankind. When James learns of this, he desires the skeleton for himself, a decision which will lead to disaster.
With its gothic settings and period costumes, THE CREEPING FLESH is clearly steeped in the Hammer/Amicus world of horror. These films were known for their mix of horror and sexuality, which was often presented in a subtle manner. The problem with THE CREEPING FLESH is that it's far too subtle. Or, to be more blunt, the movie is simply boring. THE CREEPING FLESH is essentially a one-note movie and most of the audience is there for one thing: to see what's going to happen with the giant skeleton. However, there's no real skeleton action for 75 minutes, and when it does finally occur, it's quite cheesy. The film is riddled with subplots which detract from the main action, and many scenes simply go on for too long. Reportedly, director Freddie Francis took over at the last minute, and his pacing of the film is quite lackluster. Instead of suspense, the film evokes annoyance as we wait for something to happen with the skeleton. The story, most notably for its wrap-around angle, would have made a great segment in an anthology, but fails as a feature-length movie. Granted, it's great to see Cushing and Lee on-screen together, but they only share a few scenes. THE CREEPING FLESH has a nice look and the potential to be the greatest giant-skeleton movie ever made, but things never quite gel.
THE CREEPING FLESH lumbers onto DVD courtesy of Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. Given the film's age, this transfer looks pretty good. The picture is sharp and clear, showing only a fine amount of grain and some minor defects from the source material. The image is somewhat soft at times, and some light sources show notable haloes. The colors are good and the image is stable, however, if you stare at the center of the screen, there are moments where the picture looks faded for a few seconds. Overall, the transfer is good, but somewhat flat. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 2-channel mono audio track. This track provides clear dialogue with a slightly audible hiss. There are no extras on this DVD, save for bonus trailer for other older Columbia horror titles.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©