Amicus and Hammer films are often mistaken for one another. After all, the two studios shared many of the same actors and directors, and both had a trademark gothic style that were really quite indistinguishable. However, there was one difference, and that was in budget.
While Hammer wasn't exactly throwing millions at their films, Amicus could hardly afford to throw thousands. The company recycled old sets and materials from other films over and over again, optioned inexpensive short stories and anthologies, and kept the special effects to a minimum. The low-budgets actually had a positive effect on Amicus films, however, as more of an emphasis was placed on story and acting than eye candy. As a result, Amicus produced some of the finest gothic horror films of it's era, and 1973's The Creeping Flesh is, perhaps, the high water mark.
Peter Cushing stars as Hildern, a scientist whose just returned from an expedition in New Guinea where he has discovered, what he believes is, the remains of a heretofore undocumented form of man. When he begins to clean the bones of his discovery, they react to the water and begin to regenerate the flesh and blood that once covered them. Hildern studies the blood and discovers a pattern in the cells that he hypothesises is a form of pure evil, and develops a syrum that he thinks can end evil as we know it.
Meanwhile, his brother James (Lee) informs Hildern that his wife, whose been incarcerated in the mental asylum James runs, had passed away while he was on his trip. When Hildern's young daughter Penelope (Heilbron) finds out that her mother, long thought dead, was actually housed in a mental institution, Hildern decides he must intervene, lest the madness take over his beloved child, and injects her with the syrum with disasterous results.
I've long been a fan of this wonderful film, and watching it now takes me back to the days where I first began my love affair with the genre. Lee and Cushing are great as the competitive brothers, and Lorna Heilbron is quite impressive as the tragic Penelope.
The DVD from Columbia/Tri-Star features a sharp, clean widescreen anamorphic transfer that's looks brilliant. Sadly, there's not much by way of extras on offer here, save for trailers for other Columbia releases. It's a shame, but, to be honest, I'm just glad to have this fantastically entertaining slice of gothic goodness on DVD, especially looking as nice as it does.