Directed by: Freddie Francis
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Written by Nick McCann
Horror royalty, thy names are Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. While more famous these days for their “Star Wars” roles, these two thespians defined a generation of horror cinema through various collaborations across many decades. Although Hammer Studios gave them their most famous works with “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” movies alike, other projects came along even after the height of their success. In this film’s case, it possesses a bit more than what was standard.
Par for the course considering our star power, the film is built on a good old-fashioned gothic atmosphere. It hooks you in right away, bringing in many elements that find themselves stemming together in a narrative of tragedy and scientific meddling. You feel a lot of gray areas being toyed with and the fragile alliances peppered throughout keep the story pretty engaging. While this kind of formula was becoming somewhat dated around this era, “The Creeping Flesh” does everything it can to make up an entertaining story.
It’s held together with some nice acting from the entire cast. The standouts are definitely Lee and Cushing. Their level of ethics makes up an interesting dynamic between them. No one can be trusted but motivations are crystal clear. Both of them are as solid as any of their other outings, together or alone. Everyone else does a fine job, but they find themselves outclassed by their headlining pair. That is not to say though that the characters feel realized for the time they are around and help feed into the story well.
As you would expect, the production quality is top-notch. The sets and locations have that classic gothic look with stone structures, foggy woods, and rudimentary lab set-ups. In particular, the ancient skeleton at the center of it all is a striking prop full of mystery. There are also some okay special effects that are nicely executed in their minimalism. All of this is backed by an eerie score with an orchestral sound that’s seldom heard these days in horror cinema.
It may not be much, even for the evolving time it was released. However “The Creeping Flesh” is a worthy addition to its two stars’ already big catalog of horror. Lee and Cushing are in top form as ever, backed up with a decent story that finds itself unwinding the more the madness spreads. This film may not be one to go out of your way for, but it is a surprising and pleasant watch if you happen upon it.
“The Creeping Flesh” Full Film