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The Flesh and the Fiends (1960)

In 1828 Scotland, Edinburgh surgeon Dr. Knox does medical research on cadavers he buys from murderers Burke and Hare, without questioning the unethical procurement methods.



(original story), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
June Laverick ...
Martha Knox
George Rose ...
Helen Burke
Dermot Walsh ...
Dr. Geoffrey Mitchell
John Cairney ...
Chris Jackson
Melvyn Hayes ...
June Powell ...
Maggie O'Hara
Andrew Faulds ...
Inspector McCulloch
Philip Leaver ...
Dr. Elliott
George Woodbridge ...
Dr. Ferguson
Garard Green ...
Dr. Andrews
Esma Cannon ...


Edinburgh surgeon Dr. Robert Knox requires cadavers for his research into the functioning of the human body; local ne'er-do-wells Burke and Hare find ways to provide him with fresh specimens... Written by Mark Doran <za13@dial.pipex.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Coffins Looted! Cadavers Dissected!


Crime | Drama | Horror


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

4 November 1960 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Mania  »

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Technical Specs


| (uncut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film is an adaptation of the story of real-life killers William Burke and William Hare who, around 1827 in Edinburgh, Scotland, did provide more than a dozen "fresh" corpses to the anatomist Dr. Knox. See more »


[last lines]
Dr. Robert Knox: Before commencing this morning's lecture, let us consider the Oath of Hippocrates, the sacred oath of our profession: "I will prescribe regimen for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone."
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Dyaliscope logo in the main titles misspells the widescreen process as "Dylascope". See more »


Featured in 100 Years of Horror: Mad Doctors (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

Juicy, macabre, intelligent gem
28 August 2007 | by (Limerick,Ireland) – See all my reviews

Peter Cushing plays a lecturing doctor in 19th century Edinburgh who must buy fresh corpses to teach his students about the mysteries of anatomy. While the emphasis is on the doctor and the moral dilemmas he faces, Pleasance and Rose steal the show as Burke & Hare, no-goods who hit on the idea of providing their own, surprisingly fresh corpses ...

This is an unbelievably vivid horror tale, gruesome and perverse, years ahead of its time. It has some weaknesses, and a most peculiar ending, but Cushing and Pleasance give two of their best ever performances, Rose matches them, and a young Billie Whitelaw is memorable also. Despite being a film from the 50s, this is absolutely NOT for the squeamish! An overlooked minor masterpiece, every bit as important to its genre as PSYCHO or NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.

Trivia: Although "Psycho" is widely credited with being the first film to feature the actual sound of a stabbing taking place, if memory serves me right, this one might have beaten it to the punch by a year ... I'd be grateful if anyone else could confirm this.

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Needs a restoration and blu ray release. monty-britton
Not a horror movie! jann-6
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