24 October 2014

The Flesh and the Fiends (1959)
94 min.
Directed by John Gilling.
With Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasence, June Laverick, Billie Whitelaw, Dermot Walsh, George Rose, John Cairney.
First rate retelling of the infamous Burke and Hare legend.

In 19th century Edinburgh, medical professor Robert Knox (Cushing) is always looking for recently deceased bodies to use in his physiological anatomy experiments - and he'll gladly pay money for them.

He's more than pleased when street thugs Burke and Hare (Rose and Pleasence) begin bringing him corpses for his projects. But soon the two wretches take to bringing Knox really fresh cold cuts for the slab...dead only minutes!

Just how do they do it?

Exemplary performances highlight this superior chronicle of the West Port murders, complemented by confident direction from Gilling. Cushing is a standout as the clinical Dr. Knox - a paradigm of control - and Pleasence is delightfully sinister as Hare.

(Yes, that's Billie Whitelaw in a supporting role some 17 years before her impeccable turn of evil as the Nanny from Hell in The Omen).

Also known as Mania.

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