Crummy Hammer horror from 1966. It’s dull and derivative, coming to
life only on those occasions when the title creature makes its
appearance, and then only fitfully.
Director John Gilling previously scripted the 1964
Hammer production THE GORGON,
to which THE REPTILE is similar in many respects. Gilling’s other
directorial credits include the Hammer productions THE MUMMY’S SHROUD
(1967) and THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES (1966), the latter film shot
back-to-back with THE REPTILE--which was definitely not among Hammer’s
more ambitious efforts! Writer Anthony Hinds (credited as John Elder)
was another Hammer regular, having scripted Hammer classics like THE
KISS OF THE VAMPIRE (1963), RASPUTIN: THE MAD MONK (1966) and DRACULA
HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968).
A distinguished man, one Charles Spaulding, is invited
to the ancient Franklyn manor and killed by something we don’t see. This
is apparently the latest of a string of killings plaguing the area, even
though the cause of Spaulding’s death is classified as heart failure.
Charles’ brother Harry doesn’t buy that diagnosis, and
together with his wife Jennifer goes to stay in an inherited cottage
next door to the Franklyn manor. Harry meets up with “Mad” Peter, an
eccentric old guy who was present the night Harry’s bother died (but
refuses to divulge any pertinent info), and who calls the manor an “Evil
Place.” The following night Mad Peter shows up severely bruised and
foaming at the mouth, apparently due to an epileptic seizure.
Anna, the attractive daughter of the manor’s patriarch
Dr. Franklyn, takes a shine to Harry. She begs him and Jennifer not to
move away, even though her father strongly advises them to vacate at the
first opportunity. The doctor’s advice is sound, as Harry, afoot in
Franklyn manor, is confronted with a scary snake woman who bites him on
It seems that years earlier Dr. Franklyn got involved
with a cult of snake worshippers who turned Anna into a half woman-half
snake creature who emerges from the manor’s basement each night to do
evil. Will Harry and Jen be its latest victims?
While this isn’t a terrible film, it’s not a good one
by any means. The photography and art direction aren’t at all
distinguished, and the script is overly talky. Director John Gilling
over-relies on shock effects (such as the first appearance of Mad Peter
jumping onto the protagonists’ back) to jazz up a highly simplistic
narrative that pivots on the appearances of the Roy Ashton created
titular creature--which looks like exactly what it is: an actress
wearing a goofy snake mask and clawed mittens!
As I pointed out earlier, the film is more-or-less a
remake of an earlier Hammer production, THE GORGON (which wasn’t great
but is leagues better than this one), and also contains elements lifted
from DRACULA and CAT PEOPLE. You’re advised to see either film in place
of THE REPTILE.
Hammer Film Productions
Director: John Gilling
Producer: Anthony Nelson-Keys
Screenplay: “John Elder” (Anthony Hinds)
Cinematography: Arthur Grant
Editing: Roy Hyde
Cast: Noel Willman, Jennifer Daniel, Ray Barrett, Jacqueline Pearce,
Michael Ripper, John Laurie, Marne Maitland, David Baron, Charles Lloyd