The Reptile (1966) | Hammer serpent’s tale is an exotic oddity – set in Cornwall
What strange power made her half woman – half snake?
The 1966 Hammer horror The Reptile is set in the same 19th-century Cornish setting as the same year’s The Plague of the Zombies and again concerns a family of aristocrats hiding dark and deadly secrets. Jacqueline Pearce – who meets a tragic end in Plague – takes centre stage as young woman who turns into deadly lizard creature whenever aroused – payback for her father’s dabbling with the dark arts while stationed in Malaya.
Essentially a werewolf movie in a snake’s skin, The Reptile, contains few shocks, but does makes for seductive viewing, thanks to a sensual performance from Pearce in the dual role of the fraught Anna and the lascivious creature that she turns into. Pearce, who found fame in the 1980s in TV’s Blakes 7, looks back on her time working at Hammer in her autobiography, From Byfleet to the Bush, published in 2012 (find out more). Co-star Jennifer Daniel also appeared in Hammer’s The Kiss of the Vampire (reviewed here), while Australian actor Ray Barrett began voicing Thunderbirds‘ John Tracy the same year that The Reptile was released. Hammer stalwart Michael Ripper is on hand as publican, Tom Bailey, whose tales of village superstition seem to be substantiated by the ramblings of John Laurie‘s Mad Peter.
The film was directed by John Gilling at Bray studios and on location at Black Park in Wexham. Gilling, a famously mercurial director, was also responsible for the superior horrors The Flesh and the Fiends (1960); as well as Hammer’s 1964 swashbucklers, The Scarlet Blade and The Brigand of Kandahar. But Gilling is at the top of his game with his back-to-back Cornish classics, The Reptile and The Plague of the Zombies.
In 2012, a high definition transfer of The Reptile was released by Studiocanal on Blu-ray and DVD, as part of their ongoing restoration of the iconic studio’s film library. The extras include an episode of World of Hammer, a featurette on the making of the film, and a trailer.
The Reptile can also bee seen regularly on The Horror Channel in the UK (click here for listings details).[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVszBcy-gxQ%5D
Posted on July 21, 2015, in British Film, Hammer-Amicus-Tigon, Horror, Must See, Must-See and tagged 1960s Hammer, From Byfleet to the Bush, Hammer-Amicus-Tigon, Horror, Jacqueline Pearce, John Gilling, Must See, Robby the Robot. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.