The Reptile [Hammer horror]

The Reptile (1966) starring Jaqueline Pearce, David Baron, Nod Willman

The Reptile (1966) starring Jaqueline Pearce, David Baron, Nod Willman

Hammer Studios’ The Reptile is a good entry in the “tragic werewolf” genre … With our were-creature being a reptile. A person who the audience actually likes – in human form, at least.

Harry Spalding and his wife Valerie move to an inherited cottage in a small village in the country. Harry’s brother died mysteriously. They are coldly received by the locals… Except for the bartender / owner of a pub Tom Bailey, who welcome them. His weird neighbor Dr. Franklyn, who lives with his beautiful daughter Anna, tries to persuade them to sell the house and leave. But the couple decides to stay. Harry and Valerie find that the locals are being killed by some snake and they feel threatened. Anna asks for help. So, they trespass Dr. Franklyn’s house. There, they find the horrible truth hidden in the place.

Cast of characters

  • Noel WillmanDr. Franklyn. A doctor of theology, and a bit of a recluse. He lives with his daughter Anna, and a servant from India. India, where he had previously spent some time investigating a reptile cult …
  • Jennifer DanielValerie Spalding. Harry’s wife, who moves with him into the village. They’ve inherited a house there from Harry’s dead brother. Who supposedly died of the black plague.
  • Ray BarrettHarry George Spalding. Our protagonist, who is suspicious of the “plague” story. With good reason. And, he begins investigating.
  • Jacqueline Pearce (Don’t Raise the Bridge, Lower the River) … Anna Franklyn. Anna is Dr. Franklyn’s daughter. She’s lovely, and lonely. But her father keeps her on a very short leash.
  • Michael Ripper (The Brides of Dracula) … Tom Bailey. The friendly owner & bartender of the village pub. The only person who makes the newcomers feel welcome.
  • John LaurieMad Peter. The local eccentric. Harry invites him home for dinner. After warning the couple that their lives are in danger, Mad Peter quickly departs. Only to return later that evening, foaming at the mouth, with his face blackened and swollen. He dies within a few minutes. Later, Harry performs an (illegal) autopsy, and discovers a pair of fang bites on his neck. And then, finds the same on his brother’s corpse as well. Hmm …
  • Marne MaitlandThe Malay. Supposedly, Dr. Franklyn’s Indian servant. Who clearly has some hold over the doctor, and his daughter.

Editorial review of The Reptile courtesy of Amazon.com

John Gilling shot this supernatural thriller after wrapping Plague of the Zombies, using that film’s locale and even some of the same sets. Noel Willman stars as the mysterious Dr. Franklyn, a reclusive nobleman with a beautiful daughter (Jacqueline Pearce) he keeps hidden away–and for good reason. His daughter carries a curse, the result of his forays into forbidden knowledge in the Far East, and transforms into an uncontrollable, snakelike creature who preys upon the local villagers. Gilling’s spooky, mist-enshrouded countryside and foreboding interior atmosphere is undercut somewhat by Pearce’s unconvincing makeup, but her freakish appearance is still startling and the gruesome corpses she leaves in her wake are genuinely unsettling. The film has been remastered from the original 35mm negatives in the Hammer vaults and letterboxed to its original aspect ratio. –Sean Axmaker

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