24 October 2007 | The_Void
Excellent take on a classic story!
The story of Burke and Hare is one of horror's all time classics and has inspired some great films such as The Flesh and the Fiends and The Body Snatcher, among many others. The story is absolutely rife with intrigue; we have a central murder plot, plus the reasons behind the murder as well as the whole 'morality vs science' issue that runs throughout. The film has a period setting which it carries off very well, and the excellent cast all turn in great performances which helps to ensure that The Doctor and the Devils always feels like a very polished and professional production. The names used in this movie are not the real life names of the people involved - for some reason, Doctor Knox has become Doctor Rock and Burke and Hare are now Broom and Fallon, but anyone that knows the story of Burke and Hare will know what to expect. We focus on two criminals that realise they can make a killing by killing people and selling the fresh bodies to the local Doctor for seven sovereigns a time. It soon becomes clear to the doctor that the bodies aren't being taken from graves, yet he continues to accept them to test on...
The Doctor and the Devils is not the best film to be based on this classic story; though I have not seen every film it inspired, I am sure that The Flesh and the Fiends remains the best; though this is certainly an excellent take on it. The film is directed by one of Hammer's best directors, Freddie Francis, and Francis creates the period style excellently; there is nothing about the setting or atmosphere of this film that doesn't make you think that it's all taking place in the Victorian era. The cast is excellent also. The fourth James Bond, Timothy Dalton, takes the central role of the doctor and delivers an excellent performance. He doesn't do the role as well as Peter Cushing did in the 1959 take on this story...but few matches up to Cushing. The duo of Stephen Rea and Jonathan Pryce are the gravediggers/murderers and make up the core of the film excellently. The rest of the cast is padded out by Julian Sands and Twiggy in smaller but important roles. Overall, The Doctor and the Devils is an excellent and sadly overlooked take on the classic story of Burke and Hare and while it may not be easy to come by - this one is certainly worth the effort!