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Roy Ward Baker
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Harry Spalding and his wife Valerie inherit a cottage in a small country village after his brother mysteriously dies. The locals are unfriendly and his neighbor Dr. Franklyn (a doctor of theology) suggests they leave. They decide to stay only to find that a mysterious evil plagues the community. Written by
H P Holley
After the mysterious death of his brother, Harry Spalding and his wife Valerie move to the Cornwall Cottage of that of their inherited house. The locals turn a cold shoulder, but the local bar owner Tom greets them. Weird things are going on and just like his brother, a local man dies in the same fashion. Maybe it has something to do with their odd neighbour Dr. Franklyn and his daughter Anna. Who before this had happened, asked the couple to sell and leave this place.
Capable work all round, but especially from the versatile cast makes this one very solid Hammer chiller. Like many of the reviewers on here have already mentioned, it was filmed back to back with the same director's "Plague of the Zombies" (which I've yet to see). It's typical Hammer fluff with a towering atmosphere of eerie intrigue, a well-renown earth shaking score, engulfed by fluid camera-work and an extremely offbeat premise. Sounds like a real treat indeed. But something stops it from being one of Hammer's greater achievements. It gets off to a slow start, but doesn't really hit momentum until the film's final 15 minutes. There's nothing wrong with that as the script is well defined and there's detailed characterisations, but it seems to suggest more than it actually delivers. The story's angle builds up the mystery effectively enough and drums up a bunch of suspense with some stinging strikes in a viper pace. The back-story of the snake people could have been explored a little further and motivation behind the attacks were quite hazy. But in all, where it counts it surely did entertain. The make-up effects of the creature weren't too crash hot, but the aftermath of the tenacious attacks left some unpleasant visuals. Some mouth foaming goodness. A strong period setting enforces Hammer great eye for detail and perfection in creating the times. The isolated and uneasy air of the countryside sprawls off the screen. The cast were all very good and lifted from the ordinary. Michael Ripper really does make the most and is extremely potent when on screen. Ray Barrett and the gorgeous Jennifer Daniel were convincing. Marne Maitland is profoundly shifty in a pinpoint turn as The Malay.
A decent effort by Hammer studios.
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