The Flesh and the Fiends
Directed by John Gilling
Horror audiences have long been fascinated by the tale of Robert Knox, a Scottish doctor who in 1828 became notorious for his complicity in a series of murders committed by grave robbers Burke and Hare, who received cash in exchange for fresh cadavers. John Gilling’s exceptionally eerie 1960 retelling stars Peter Cushing, who had just become a horror star thanks to Hammer’s FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULA and MUMMY films, and HALLOWEEN’s Donald Pleasence.
A Scottish doctor doesn’t ask questions when two killers begin bringing him suspiciously fresh cadavers.
Cast: Peter Cushing, June Laverick, Donald Pleasence
Peter Cushing always delivers.
The always great Peter Cushing AND an almost unrecognizably young Donald Pleasance in a fairly accurate portrayal of the Burke and Hare murders and their unruly dealings with Dr. Knox. Found this little gem to be a real surprise. It's a little slow but it takes its time developing story until the greed of Burke and Hare causes their schemes to unravel. And then there's the startling full frontal nudity for a black-and-white 1960 film, gratuitous without a doubt, and yet shocking for how completely unusual it was— especially in a film of notable quality and character. It serves to add a sting that probably couldn't be achieved otherwise. Worth the watch, absolutely. Might even buy this movie.
I saw this years ago on tv but didn’t realize how edited that version was. This version has entire scenes and even brief nudity that were edited out. I def recommend checking this out. Peter Cushing is amazing as always
When I realized this was available, I couldn't wait to watch it. Studying serial killers is a hobby of mine and I've always loved the odd story of Burke and Hare. Peter Cushing did a fantastic job as the driven Professor who didn't ask questions. Donald Pleasence did so well in his role, and I loved Billie Whitelaw as Mary. Being a fan of the case, there are some historical inaccuracies - It was Hare who ran the boarding house with his commonlaw wife, not Burke. So the names are mixed up. Also, Daft Jamie's murder was not the one that got them caught. However, for the sake of time, I understand why they chose to trim down the body count. There were 17 murders. Burke had a commonlaw wife as well. Burke was indeed the one who hanged for the crime, Hare and his wife left town after the trial. Burke's body was legally donated to the University for dissection and his skeleton still hangs there to this day. All that aside, this is an excellent film filled with great performances, nice cinematography and great pacing. 5/5
Great acting by Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasence.