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"The Flesh and the Fiends" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 8

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"The Flesh and the Fiends" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 8

Old 09-23-13, 01:13 AM
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"The Flesh and the Fiends" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 8





The Flesh and the Fiends (1960)



Selected by ororama



IMDB ENTRY

ON DAILYMOTION
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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.



Spoiler tags are unnecessary in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF SPOILERS.
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Last edited by Chad; 09-27-13 at 05:34 PM.
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Old 10-08-13, 09:27 AM
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Re: "The Flesh and the Fiends" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 8

Wicked sense of humour, exhibit A: "Nobody touched her... Willie just killed her, that's all." "Oh, that's alright. We don't want a thing like that [prostitute] in the house - she'd give us a bad name."

...well, quite.
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Old 10-08-13, 09:35 AM
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Re: "The Flesh and the Fiends" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 8

Great choice ororama (where'd you get that from?)!

Cushing and Pleasance are both fantastic in their roles.
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Old 10-08-13, 02:04 PM
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Re: "The Flesh and the Fiends" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 8

I've already seen this before, but does that dailymotion link contain the "Nudity" version of the movie? When I netflix'd this movie in a previous horror challenge, I was totally surprised by the boobage!
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Old 10-08-13, 04:12 PM
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Re: "The Flesh and the Fiends" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 8

^ It does. I was surprised too.
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Old 10-08-13, 10:24 PM
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Re: "The Flesh and the Fiends" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 8

Originally Posted by Trevor View Post
Cushing and Pleasance are both fantastic in their roles.
I agree. Seeing both playing baddies was really interesting.
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Old 10-09-13, 12:49 AM
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Re: "The Flesh and the Fiends" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 8

I thought that this was pretty great. All of the performances were excellent, there was a LOT more nudity than I was expecting, and it was weird to see Donald Pleasance as a relatively slim guy. It's no wonder that director John Gilling got to make a few movies for Hammer after this.

Was it just me, or did the character of Daft Jamie remind anyone else of Rickety Cricket from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia? Nah, it's probably just me.
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Old 10-09-13, 07:17 AM
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Re: "The Flesh and the Fiends" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 8

The Flesh and the Fiends seems to be a fairly accurate telling of the story of the murders committed by William Burke and William Hare, the Edinburgh bodysnatchers, and their relationship with Doctor Robert Knox, the surgeon who purchased their wares.

I consider Peter Cushing's portrayal of Doctor Knox to be one of his best performances. Donald Pleasance gives probably the best performance of his career as Hare, and George Rose, much less familiar to me, is almost his equal as Burke. Director John Gilling should be much better known (he also directed The Reptile and The Plague of the Zombies).

The fate of Hare is similar to a popular rumor about what became of him after the trial. The characters of Burke and Hare and their roles in the murders seem to be reversed from what the authorities supposed at the time of Burke's trial. This may have been done to give Donald Pleasance his memorable final scene.

The story has been told many times, including The Doctor and the Devils (1985), which is based on an unproduced 1950s screenplay by Dylan Thomas. Stephen Rea and Jonathan Pryce are very good as the characters based on Burke and Hare in that movie, but Timothy Dalton seems too noble as the character based on Knox. The production seems too pretty a recreation of the poverty and squalor of the lives of the poor in early 19th century Edinburgh. In contrast to The Flesh and the Fiends, the nicer characters (like the prostitute played by Twiggy and the idealistic young doctor played by Julian Sands) are more memorable than the villains.The Flesh and the Fiends has sympathy for the victims, but it never forgets that you are there to see Burke, Hare and Knox at work, and it captures the misery of Edinburgh at that time without fussy set decoration.

The conclusion of The Flesh and the Fiends reveals that although it appeared to be a story about a pair of brutal murderers, the key to the story is the moral blindness of Doctor Knox. Cushing's performance from the point that he learns on the street what the people of Edinburgh really think of him is a masterful portrait of a man who goes from the top of his world to total despair as he realizes that in his confidence in the importance of his work, he has willfully closed his eyes to its cost.

Last edited by ororama; 10-09-13 at 08:00 AM.
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Old 10-09-13, 09:04 AM
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Re: "The Flesh and the Fiends" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 8

Surprisingly good movie. I read about the Burke & Hare case on Wiki, and the movie was reasonably accurate.

The nudity caught me off-guard. I didn't expect that from a movie of that era.

Cushing was amazing as the overly-ambitious surgeon who allowed his moral compass to be moved for the sake of his career. Pleasance was very strong as the grimy graverobber, and everyone carried their weight.

Really good movie, and one of Hammer's stronger features.
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Old 10-09-13, 10:50 AM
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Re: "The Flesh and the Fiends" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 8

**Spoilers throughout**

I really enjoyed this one. It's actually very similar to the previous night's subset pick, but I liked this one even more. Despite the fact that this one is based on a real story and didn't feature monsters, I found the villains to be even more colorful and entertaining. I actually forgot that this was a true story while watching because I got swept up by the story. Reading this thread I was surprised to read that it was based on real events despite the fact that the film opened up with a title card saying as much.

I agree that Cushing and Pleasance were both excellent and fun to watch. One thing that I don't like about movies of this area is that they always have a "straight man" character, and a love interest for him, and they are always so hokey. That role was filled by Dr. Mitchell and Martha, and I couldn't have been more bored by their characters, however they were used very sparingly here, allowing more time for Burke and Hare, which I appreciated. In The Black Sleep the boring straight man got much more screen time, whereas The Flesh and the Fiends revelled in the more colorful characters.

I also found myself enjoying the characters of Chris and Mary, they were underdogs that I was rooting for. I was genuinely surprised by the direction the story went and how certain characters died well before the end of the movie. In hindsight, it seems naive of me, but I thought Chris would save the day or get revenge for Mary's murder. Seeing him taken out so easily and right after Mary was shocking to me. The moment of Hare creeping up behind Chris and stabbing him is one of the biggest WTF moments for me this month, and I was genuinely disappointed to see those characters get killed.

I was very impressed with the gritty and uncompromising nature of the story for a movie of its time. It was apparently faithful to the true events of the story without changing things around for crowd-pleasing. I also enjoyed the dark humor of the story, mostly from Pleasance, but plenty from the other low class characters as well. So overall a great pick.

Originally Posted by rbrown498 View Post
Was it just me, or did the character of Daft Jamie remind anyone else of Rickety Cricket from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia? Nah, it's probably just me.
No, but I kept expecting Mary to say "You know nothing, Jon Snow."
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Old 10-10-13, 09:46 PM
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Re: "The Flesh and the Fiends" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 8

Someone needs to release this immediately on Blu-ray.
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Old 10-17-13, 07:43 AM
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Re: "The Flesh and the Fiends" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 8

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
**Spoilers throughout**


I also found myself enjoying the characters of Chris and Mary, they were underdogs that I was rooting for. I was genuinely surprised by the direction the story went and how certain characters died well before the end of the movie. In hindsight, it seems naive of me, but I thought Chris would save the day or get revenge for Mary's murder. Seeing him taken out so easily and right after Mary was shocking to me. The moment of Hare creeping up behind Chris and stabbing him is one of the biggest WTF moments for me this month, and I was genuinely disappointed to see those characters get killed.
This really sums up the movie for me. Other than the above, the movie was dull for me. I actually fell asleep after Chris and Mary died and had to go back and rewatch it. It is cool knowing that the movie is based on true events but it just didn't do it for me. Nice nudity for '59 though!

My rating: **1/2 out of *****
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Old 10-29-13, 04:08 PM
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Re: "The Flesh and the Fiends" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 8

I enjoyed The Flesh and The Fiends much more than I thought I would.
Originally Posted by ororama View Post
I consider Peter Cushing's portrayal of Doctor Knox to be one of his best performances.
Crushing nailed in in The Flesh and the Fiends. Watching this movie makes me disappointed to see he was not more effectively used in some other films - where he just gives a subdued questioning look and stands around instead of theatrically stirring up dramatics like he does here.
Originally Posted by ororama View Post
The story has been told many times...
It's odd how popular Burke and Hare seem to be for movie features. I think the old world british nature of the theme is interesting but not so interesting as to have spawned countless films, it feels like Burke and Hare could be a subgenre in itself.
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Old 11-04-13, 09:03 AM
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Re: "The Flesh and the Fiends" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 8

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
It's odd how popular Burke and Hare seem to be for movie features. I think the old world british nature of the theme is interesting but not so interesting as to have spawned countless films, it feels like Burke and Hare could be a subgenre in itself.
They're basically archetypes. Robin Hood, Dick Turpin, Burke & Hare: there are several versions of those stable characters - real and not - but those are THE iterations that matter.
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