The Creeping Flesh (1973)

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The Creeping Flesh (1973)

Post  BoG on Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:33 pm

There's a chance I saw this film about 30 years ago on TV and it merged in my memory with all the other horror/sci-fi of that period (not to mention all the other Lee-Cushing film pairings). If I did see it back then, it probably didn't impress me due to a slow pace, but now it intrigues my adult sensibilities. I bought the DVD 5 years ago and it was gathering dust until a year ago.

This is gothic horror (year 1893) combined with bits of science fiction a la the mad Dr.Frankenstein films - the scientist who goes too far. The characters played by Lee and Cushing, half brothers, have a less-than-friendly relationship; this always seems the case with the actors, whether it's Dracula vs. Van Helsing or their competition in the previous one, Horror Express (1972). Cushing is always the more emotional one while Lee is always cold & calculating.
I wasn't clear as to where the film was heading or what was the point during most of it. Cushing's character seems obsessed with a dead wife (who was in an insane asylum for the last few years) and with the ephemeral concept of evil. He seems to leap to a lot of nutty conclusions during the course of his experiments with that weird skeleton he dug up on the coast of Australia. He really jumps to the wrong ones even, concerning his daughter, acting way too quickly for a scientist (emotional, remember?).
Since this is the 19th century, his scientific observations are touched with traces of pure fantasy, showing the influence of the church (the being which had been the skeleton can be looked at as a version of our devil, i.e. Satan). By the end, I realized this was all a commentary on insanity in our culture and the ending (which, of course, I won't give away) can really throw you off. I was disappointed as it happened but, thinking about it a few minutes later (and some scenes earlier in the film), I also realized it made a kind of sense. I wasn't stunned into admiration but I do appreciate a good try at such sly gothic Sci-Fi. BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10
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