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The Reptile

The Reptile

By Patrick Samuel • August 22nd, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 3/5
Hammer Horror

Original release: March 6th, 1966
Running time: 90 minutes

Director: John Gilling
Writer: Anthony Hinds

Cast: Ray Barrett, Jennifer Daniel, Michael Ripper, Noel Willman, Jacqueline Pearce

The Reptile

When it comes to reptiles, even on-screen ones, I’ve always had something of a phobia about them. Yet “phobia” seems such a light word to describe it really, it doesn’t really encompass my true feelings and state of mind when I encounter them…palpitations, sweating and nausea…in short just plain hysteria!

I don’t really know when I developed it, but I’ve always had a reason to dislike them; I was 7 years old when a crazy man off the street pulled out half of a mangled dead one and threw on the table where I was playing and I think it was since then I’ve had an aversion to them, as well as crazy men on the street. Yet when it came to this 1966 Hammer Horror I was strangely fascinated.

Made back-to-back with The Plague Of The Zombies, shared the same sets and both were directed by John Gilling. The films also shared an almost xenophobic way of looking at foreign cultures. Whereas The Plague Of The Zombies saw Haiti as mainly a voodoo practicing country, brings with a focus on Indian snake worshipping.

Set at the turn of the century in the fictional village of Clagmoor Heath in Cornwall where the “Black Death” is responsible for taking the lives of several locals in the middle of the night, The Reptile’s story revolves around Harry Spalding (Ray Barrett) inherits his late brother’s cottage and he arrives with his wife, Valerie (Jennifer Daniel).

Once there, they’re quickly ostracised by the community and told to go back to where they came from. The only people to take kindly to them are the bar-owner Tom Bailey (Michael Ripper) and Anna (Jacqueline Pearce) who lives near their cottage with her father Dr. Franklyn (Noel Willman).

The Reptile

Angry to find his daughter talking to the new Clagmoor Heath residents, Dr. Franklyn cruelly orders her back to the house where she’s attended to by a silent Malay servant (Marne Maitland), leaving Harry and Valerie concerned about the troubled father/daughter relationship.

As the couple try to find out more about the recent deaths too, one man they speak to, Mad Peter (John Laurie), returns to their house later that night foaming at the mouth, with his face blackened and swollen. Despite trying to help him, he dies and Dr. Franklyn’s cold and callous manner about the matter leads them to suspect something even more sinister is going on. When they find out the victims all died from snake bites it’s only a matter of time before Harry is lured to the house and Valerie discovers the true horror of Dr. Franklyn and Anna’s secret.

Despite my usual fear of all things reptilian, didn’t leave me a crying mess on the sofa and blowing into a paper bag, instead I found it rather enjoyable. Jacqueline Pearce plays the role of Anna with an air of mystery and together with her eastern style outfits she makes for an alluring figure.

A scene I particularly enjoyed takes place after dinner where the doctor and his daughter entertain the Spaldings. Anna sits on the floor and hypnotically plays the sitar frantically upping the pace each second until her father rises and smashes it to pieces. Aside from that though, isn’t an unpredictable film and in true Hammer fashion everything bursts into flames at end.

Thought it’s not one of their most famous films, is chilling and suspenseful enough to keep you entertained if you’re looking for some old-school horror.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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