Thursday, October 27, 2011

31 Nights of Terror #20 - The Reptile (1966)

The Reptile (1966)
Director: John Gilling
Starring: Noel Willman, Jennifer Daniel, Ray Barrett
Format: DVD (Midnight Movies double feature with The Plague of the Zombies)

- I don't think I've seen this one before. Getting to watch a new Hammer horror is always great.
- Typically great, moody Hammer opening featuring an old dark house and creepy English countryside
- Director John Gilling helmed several other Hammer horrors (The Plague of the Zombies, The Mummy's Shroud) and a few Hammer swashbucklers (Fury at Smuggler's Bay, The Pirates of Blood River, The Scarlet Blade).
- The lead actor is Aussie Ray Barrett, who I last saw as an old man in the trippy 1987 Australian flick Contagion (the review of which you can find elsewhere on this blog).
- The village in this movie was the backlot of Hammer's Bray Studios and was also used for Plague of the Zombies, which was filmed back-to-back with The Reptile (and shares actors Jacqueline Pearce and Michael Ripper).
- Jacqueline Pearce. Wow.
- Noel Willman (Doctor Zhivago, Kiss of the Vampire) is great as the overbearing and creepy Dr Franklyn.
- It's worth noting the prominence of Indian symbolism and music in this movie, as Indian mysticism reached new heights of popularity in England and the US in the mid-60s (due in large part, I would think, to The Beatles' dabbling with Maharishi Yogi).
- Creeping around in dark old houses, digging up graves, weird and creepy characters... man I love Hammer period horrors.

Overall thoughts: If you're a fan of Hammer horror, particularly their gothic period films, then you'll enjoy The Reptile. It has all the elements that Hammer did so well - a creepy old house, foreboding English countryside and a mystery. The acting is good, the cinematography top notch and the creature effects are primitive by modern standards but effective enough. A must for Hammer horror fans.

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