The Reptile Reviews
However, the rest of the film stands in the tradition of fines British old school Horror film making, a remote village in the countryside (Although Cornwall has never been that puny as it is portrayed in the film), distrusting villagers, an old manor, a murky moor, lots of lush, grave-digging and lovely costumes.
The story is simple but supported by the basic human interest of a man questioning the circumstances of his brother's death, works fine. The film is less spectacular and action oriented than some other Hammer films and crawls along with a slow but entertaining pace, throwing titbits of information to the protagonist and his wife.
Towards the climax, the scope and the weirdness factor goes a bit out of hand and it is all rather formulaic, that is, if you know other Hammer Horror films and it lost me there but the spooky and creepy atmosphere is enough to make this one entertaining.
Another thing that annoyed me quite a bit is the character of Dr. Franklyn's manservant, a mysterious man from India - which probably was enough in the sixties to make a proper English Gentleman scared but I think it feels goody and outdated to include a foreigner to explain the nightmarish ongoings. Maybe it fits into the historic context of the film, but I did not like that.
The cast is solid, no big leaps of talent here, Noel Willma gives a steady performance until the film calls for him to step it up and he is clearly more of a subtle actor, if anything.
A hidden gem for fans of the genre, British horror and of course Hammer Horror films. All others might be irritated by the slow pace and lack of hands-on gore.
A slightly above average attempt from Hammer and a good watch for fans, but with a few less tricks up its sleeve than some of of its similar aged relatives making it by far from one of the best.
Shot at the same time using the same sets as The Plague Of The Zombies.
Starring: David Baron, Jennifer Daniel, Noel Williams, and Michael Ripper
Director: John Gilling
Another Victorian-styled horror movie from Hammer Films, this one revolves around a retired military officer and his wife (David Baron and Jennifer Daniel) who inherits his brother?s cottage in a small Cornish village after the brother dies under mysterious circumstances. When he moves there with his wife, he discovers that there has been a rash of deaths and that all of them can be attributed to a rare poisonous animal found only in remote India. The obvious purpetrator behind these dastardly deeds to the reclusive doctor of theology (Noel Williams) who has made a career out of studying obscure religions in the Far East and who keeps his daughter a virtual prisoner in their manor house. But throw in a mysterious swarthy fellow, the daughter?s strangely hypnotic effect on her father when she plays the sitar, and things are a little less clear. Will the newly arrived couple?s only ally in the area (Michael Ripper) help them stop the spreading evil before it consumes them all?
?The Reptile? is the most strongly gothic in genre of all the Hammer horror flicks. There?s the ogre-like father and the oppressed daughter; there?s the mysterious Outsiders who are bringing a corrupting influence to wholesome British society, and there are curses and victims and victimizers who may not be what they seem. It?s a well-mounted film that contains several moments of genuine chills.
?The Reptile? would have gotten an 8-Tomato rating if not for the inexplicable over-acting displayed by all the principles in the first half of the movie; inexplicable because the leads in the film director John Gilling helmed immediately prior to this one (?Plague of the Zombies", which even used many of the same sets) was blessed with beautifully restrained performances that made the film even creepier and more believable. It?s even odder because Michael Ripper gives the same type of understated performance he did in ?Plague.?)
As the film evolves, the over-blown performances start to fit with the tenor of the going-ons, but they seem so out of place early in the film that it?s an irritant. The movie?s resolution is also a bit weak, with the title creature going down without much of a fight. The combination of the overacting in the first reel and the shaky climax were enough to knock off a Tomato. Still, it?s an entertaining film if you enjoy Hammer-style movies or gothic tales.