The Flesh and the Fiends (1960)

  |  Crime, Drama, Horror


The Flesh and the Fiends (1960) Poster

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.


7/10
1,369

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  • Peter Cushing in The Flesh and the Fiends (1960)
  • Donald Pleasence and Billie Whitelaw in The Flesh and the Fiends (1960)
  • Peter Cushing in The Flesh and the Fiends (1960)
  • The Flesh and the Fiends (1960)
  • Donald Pleasence and Billie Whitelaw in The Flesh and the Fiends (1960)
  • Peter Cushing in The Flesh and the Fiends (1960)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


17 February 2016 | AlsExGal
6
| I felt somewhat baited and switched here...
With Peter Cushing as Dr. Knox billed as the lead, I felt that he did not get nearly enough screen time to justify the billing. The film starts out promisingly with Dr. Knox lecturing medical students in anatomy, scoffing at his fellow physicians for their hypocrisy and old fashioned ways, and receiving cadavers from two questionable fellows - Hare (Donald Pleasance) and Burke (George Rose)- as subjects for the study of his students and himself.

This is where he goes wrong. He is paying for cadavers thinking them the product of morgue or grave robbing. Hare and Burke just see that they can get eight guineas per corpse. And every human being is a potential corpse. So why work so hard to dig them up if you can just find some homeless person with no friends or family, offer them a drink and a warm place by the fire for awhile and strangle them? Nobody will miss them and poof! Eight guineas! This is the rather predictable path similar films and even episodes of Night Gallery have trodden. What makes it good are the times that Cushing is on screen and his brilliant portrayal of a morally ambiguous figure, and the rather odd and unexpected ending that seems somewhat classist. Let's just say this couldn't have been made in the USA at the time because of the production code.

The rather tiresome parts are the romances between minor characters that at first don't seem to have much purpose - actually one romance does - and the excessive footage in the bawdy pubs of impoverished London.

Without Peter Cushing, I'd rate this a 5/10 - quite mediocre. With him it jumps a star to a worthwhile 6/10.

Critic Reviews



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Did You Know?

Trivia

The death metal band Exhumed based their 2017 album Death Revenge off of this film, according to Ross Sewage (and by extension, The Hare and Burke murders).


Quotes

Dr. Geoffrey Mitchell: We are students of Hippocrates, but some of us are hypocrites.


Crazy Credits

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


Alternate Versions

The Continental version included on the Image DVD contains alternate topless takes of clothed scenes in the UK theatrical release and also restores some cuts for violence that were made by the BBFC. The differences are as follows:

  • In a tavern scene with Burke and Hare, a female extra allows her blouse to slip revealing her breasts while B&H are talking (in the UK print the blouse doesn't slip)
  • When Billie Whitelaw takes John Cairney up to her room she has a brief conversation at the foot of the stairs with a woman by an open door. In the UK print this woman is clothed - In the continental print her breasts are exposed.
  • The murder of the old woman is slightly differently edited and more explicit in the Continental print (additional close-ups of her being smothered by Hare's hand).
  • When Cairney goes into the brothel and confronts Whitelaw various of the extras are topless in the continental version (but clothed in the UK print). The Continental print also features a couple of unique shots preceding this of topless revelry.
  • The murder of Daft Jamie is slightly extended and more violent
  • The Continental version has a close-up of Burke's face when he is hanged which is missing from the UK print (presumably a BBFC cut).

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Crime | Drama | Horror

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