Review Date: November 13, 1999
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 11/16/1999
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
In the 1950's, 60's and 70's a British studio by the name of Hammer released numerous horror and sci-fi films. Hammer has had their hands in just about every possible horror story you could wish for - zombies, devil worshipping, werewolves, Frankenstein, The Mummy and more. Now, to the joy of numerous Hammer fans throughout the world, Anchor Bay has released a wide selection of Hammer films on DVD with hopefully even more to come in the future. Here we take a look at the Anchor Bay DVD release of The Reptile, which would have to fall into Hammer's monster movie category.
Harry Spalding's (Ray Barrett) brother, Charles (David Baron), has mysteriously died of what doctors report as "heart failure". Harry has difficulty believing this because his brother was young and healthy. Death from heart failure can't be the real reason and Harry begins to suspect possible homicide.
Harry and his wife, Valerie (Jennifer Daniel), have inherited the cottage that his brother owned. They decide to live in the cottage permanently and head off to the small Cornish village where it's located. Upon arrival Harry meets Tom Bailey (Michael Ripper), the local barkeep in the village. Harry asks Tom for help in determining what happened to his brother, but Tom refuses saying he fears for his life.
Harry meets the local "crazy" who is nicknamed "Mad Pete" (John Laurie). Pete tells Harry that "they" killed his brother. In an attempt to find out what Pete knows about his brothers death Harry invites Pete to dinner at his home. During the dinner Pete hears some strange music and flees the house. Later that night Pete returns, but he has been bitten by something; his face is green and foam is coming out of his mouth. Pete's last words were "Dr. Franklyn" (Noel Willman). Harry rushes to get Dr. Franklyn but when they return they are too late, Pete has died before Harry could find out what he knew of his brothers death.
Valerie gets a visit from Dr. Franklyn's daughter, Anna (Jacqueline Pearce). Anna invites Valerie to dinner and, after Valerie accepts, Anna does a small chore for Anna by going to fetch her some water from the water pump At the pump she sees a man in black who she is extremely frightened by. This man in black has a large influence over the Franklyn's throughout the film, and he appears to have great control over Dr. Franklyn himself. She runs back into the house and tells Valerie she must go. As she's about to head home her father arrives. He scolds Anna for going to the Spalding's home without his permission and sends her home. Later that night when they're at dinner the Spalding's see more of Dr. Franklyn's control of Anna when he break apart a music instrument that Anna is playing and sends her off to her room. This is all very strange to the Franklyn's as Anna is a young adult, most likely in her 20's.
Tom Bailey, the barkeep, apologizes to Harry and agrees to help him in his search for answers. Tom digs up the body of mad Pete to confirm that there were bite wounds on him. They then dig up Harry's brother and see the same bite wounds. Suspecting Dr. Franklyn has something to do with all this Harry heads off to the Franklyn home to find answers. While there he is attacked and bitten by a reptilian-like human. Before the reptile can sink its teeth into him too much Dr. Franklyn intervenes and Harry manages to escape. He rushes home and attempts to extract the poison from his body. Confused by what has happened Harry's wife, Valerie, heads off to the Franklyn home to see if Anna is in any danger. She's confronted by both the Dr. Franklyn and the reptile and learns the truth about what has happened. She must now escape the Franklyn home before she herself becomes the next victim.
Not the best Hammer film in the world but still moderately entertaining. The film moved a little too slow for me, and there certainly weren't enough scenes that showed the reptilian creature. Gore is next to none and I didn't get any chills or tension from the film. I did think the reptile makeup was fairly good, but unfortunately we just don't get enough scenes showing the reptile off. Acting was good as it is in most Hammer films, but overall I just didn't get much from this film. While the story itself was good the film just failed to deliver in the chills and thrills category, at least for me.
The Reptile is presented in it's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16:9 enhanced for widescreen TVs. Anchor Bay again delivers a superb transfer in their latest Hammer DVD release. A few blemishes and speckles were seen but nothing severe or frequent. The colors are well balanced throughout the film; blacks were solid. While the colors throughout were a bit bland that's only because the film is from the 60's and the film technology from back then - that certainly isn't something that will effect the grading of image quality.
The Reptile contains mono sound. Dialogue and musical score sounded terrific; no hisses or pops heard.
The commentary on the DVD was enjoyable. Director Katt Shea did a fine job commenting and there were very few gaps of silence throughout the commentary. I did get a little bored at some points during the commentary, but overall it was interesting and a good listen. Not something I'll be listening to again anytime soon, but definitely worth listening to once.
Not exactly a full blown special edition we get with this DVD. However, I think Hammer fans, especially newer ones like myself will really enjoy the "World of Hammer" episode titled "Vamp". There are brief plot summaries and scenes for these Hammer films:
- Brides of Dracula (1963)
- Dracula (1958)
- Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1965)
- The Kiss of the Vampire (1962)
- Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter (1972)
- The Vampire Lovers (1970)
- Lust for a Vampire (1970)
- Twins of Evil (1971)
This episode was about 20 minutes. I enjoyed it quite a bit and it definitely left me wanting to see more Hammer horror, which I look forward to doing. Veteran fans of Hammer may not enjoy it as much as all it's really doing is previewing several Hammer films.
Also included on the DVD is a theatrical trailer and two combo television spots for The Reptile and Rasputin - The Mad Monk.
The story may leave some a little disappointed but if you're a Hammer fan then I'm sure this DVD will fit into your collection nicely. The overall quality is top notch as I've recently come to expect from Anchor Bay.
Movie - C=
Image Quality - A-
Sound - B
Supplements - B
- Running time - 1 hour 31 minutes
- Not Rated
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- Mono sound
- "World of Hammer" episode titled "Vamp".
- Theatrical trailer
- Two TV spots with Rasputin - The Mad Monk and The Reptile