THE CREEPING FLESH (1973). Director: Freddie Francis.
Okay, this is a weird one. Emmanuel Hildern (Peter Cushing) returns from New Guinea with the skeleton of a giant man whose race existed in pre-history. When water touches the bones of the skeleton, new flesh forms over them; the blood of this flesh contains certain strange cells that are supposedly the cause of the "disease" we know as evil. When Hildern's lovely daughter Penelope (Lorna Heilbron) is injected with this blood -- which Hildren has doctored so that it will now protect the individual from evil, or so he thinks -- she turns into a sexy, raving looney who attacks people. Adding to the turmoil is the fact that Hildern's nasty half-brother James (Christopher Lee), who has always been jealous of him, is conducting his own experiments and steals the skeleton -- in the middle of a rainstorm no less ... uh oh! It would be all too easy to pick apart the "science" and theories of evil put forth by Hildern in this movie, but what's the point -- this is an absorbing, amusing and creepy horror flick with a lot of unusual aspects and an unpredictable plot. Some viewers may be put off by the way the movie throws together several horror sub-genres -- mad scientists, insane asylums, rampaging slashers, escaped madmen, monsters and so on -- but for those who have no problem with the commingling Flesh is quite entertaining. Cushing is outstanding, and as the strange little professor with bizarre theories gives one of the best performances of his career. Lee is also excellent, and Lorna Heilbron maneuvers the transitions from sweet young thing to hot-gal-out-on-the-town to crazed she-slasher with aplomb. Francis' direction is also better than usual. While the movie employs a number of Hammer studio regulars, it is not a Hammer production.
Verdict: Zesty and unusual period horror piece. ***.