Something is taking a bite out of the local community of a small Cornish village. When army officer Harry Spalding's brother Charles dies suddenly he and his new bride take up residence in the quaint hamlet, having been left the cottage in Charles' will. Upon discovering that his brother in fact died under mysterious circumstances Harry sticks his neck out to uncover the horrifying truth !.
Classic sixties produced old school horror from Hammer Studios in conjunction with Seven Arts, actually shooting on reused sets from the earlier made The Plague Of The Zombies (1966). It has the look and the feel of a speedily turned around production in the manner of a finely delivered Roger Corman endeavour. It is not without its own charm and panache however, still very much in keeping with the fine traditions of Hammer Horror.
Doctor Franklyn lives a fairly seclude life with his daughter Anna up in the hamlets manor house. The doctor comes across as being a stern and unapproachable man with an overbearing nature towards his beautiful daughter. Anna is a vibrant young woman who seeks to befriend the newly arrived Spalding couple. Her excursions beyond the perimeter of the manor house are always soon curtailed by her father, or his mysterious Malayan man servant.
When others fall victim to what the villagers dub the black plague, it is up to the local inn keeper Tom Bailey (The instantly recognisable but difficult to name place Michael Ripper. A regular support actor and no stranger to the Hammer film family) to beseech Harry Spalding to assist him in uncovering the truth. Together they do a Burke and Hare grave robbing turn that uncovers a fate more incisive than any disease !.
The startling truth behind the relationship of Doctor Franklyn and his daughter Anna unravels, as shockingly as the unbelievable one that beholds them both to the mysterious Malay. A shocking revelation from Doctor Franklyn's past as a brash adventurer in the remote regions of Asia. A snake people cult, and a poison chalice to bear in living purgatory.
There's more than an authentic air of people paranoia and adverse ignorance to strangers, along with some great outdoor natural settings and structures for the viewer to take in. The reveal of The Reptile is unspectacular but effective enough for its minimal screen exposure. The film is reliant on stylish settings and solid character performances to carry this otherwise fairly standard, and evidently low budget pot boiler off.
The Reptile doesn't then quite scale the heights of Hammer greatness, but in shedding its otherwise streamline skin the film is not without its snake themed reptilian charm !.
The Reptile Trailer
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