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I watched this last Wednesday with ms_siobhan and planet_andy after a lovely dinner of sausages and tomatoey potato gratin. It's not immediately obvious from the generic '60s get-em-in-the-doors horror title, but this is actually a telling of the Burke and Hare story - and a jolly good one at that.

I'm no expert on the real Burke and Hare, but ms_siobhan is, and she confirmed that the film was pretty true to the historical record. Apparently, the only major change was that Doctor Knox, who bought all their corpses, had a touching scene of personal redemption at the end, regretted what he had done, and recovered his reputation, instead of being increasingly shunned by Edinburgh society and having to move away to London as in reality.

More importantly, we all agreed that it was really well-scripted, acted and shot. Obviously, it's a low-budget early '60s horror film, and that does show - for example in the unconvincing painting of a distant Edinburgh castle used to indicate the setting, or in some crashingly-bad Scottish accents. But it had some really funny lines in it, a few good dramatic camera-angles, and some nice editing which brought out the horror of the grisly moments by setting them off against innocent or idyllic scenes. And although the plot wasn't predictable (at least for me, who didn't already know it), the characters were all so well-defined that everything they did seemed as it happened to be entirely plausible, with each action leading tragically and inevitably on to the next like a series of well-placed dominoes.

With Peter Cushing putting in a wonderfully steely Doctor Knox, and Donald Pleasence a suitably loathsome William Hare on top of all that, you could hardly ask for more, really. Definitely a very well-spent evening.

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Aug. 18th, 2011 09:50 am (UTC)
I thought it was an excellent film - I must watch the british version though and see how many extra breast shots we were treated to in the continental version.

I also have the Body Snatcher (Val Lewton's take on the Burke and Hare story with both Karloff and Lugosi) in my grubby little hands - but alas not my diary so will be in touch re a date for watching that :-)

Am v flattered that you think me an expert - I'm more morbidly obsessed really and a bit slapdash with dates ;-)
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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