In a small Cornish village at the turn of the 19th century people are dying from an agonising black death in The Reptile. A newcomer finds himself drawn into the mystery as he and his wife become the targets for a deadly family curse.
An interesting fresh take of the werewolf mythos with all the trappings: dark cellars, family curse and misty moors. What sets this film apart from other Hammer films of the period is its use of a sympathetic female protagonist and the Indian cult background. The hero is not the normal stereotype, instead he is the rugged and unconventional Australian actor Ray Barrett. As the doomed creature, the strikingly beautiful Jacqueline Pearce gives an unusually haunting performance, lending the movie a really tragic undercurrent.
Being a Hammer film, the production values sometimes let it down, but on the whole director John Gilling makes the most of the settings and premise and teases the monster using only fleeting glimpses until the climax which ultimately disappoints.
A strong supporting feature from Hammer, The Reptile shot back to back with The Plague of Zombies in an effort to save the studio money. Sharing sets, props and two of the actors, it is interesting to watch the films together, something the original audience were denied.
Watch this if you liked: Hammer’s Curse of the Werewolf.