What’s it about?
When his brother gets killed under mysterious circumstances, Grenadier Guard Captain Spaulding and his missus don’t hesitate to move into his dead sibling’s Cornish cottage. They attempt to settle into country life but a pub that empties out whenever they enter, a creepy Doctor with a sexy and mysterious daughter and a spate of deaths that look to be caused by King Cobra venom conspire to scupper their escape to the country.
This is a monster movie with class. The Reptile itself is mostly used sparingly and the results of its bites are genuinely horrible. It’s also a bit of a mystery as to the creature’s identity, which I was pleasantly surprised by. We see enough of it in the finale for it to lose its scariness – a prolonged look under bright lights is no beastie’s best friend – but this scene also gives the green one a deservedly sad ending.
The Reptile itself reminded me of the creature from Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse and it’s first appearance, via sliding door, must surely have been an influence on Leatherface’s Chainsaw Massacre entrance too; while the resulting kill is also a clear homage to Arbogast biting it in Psycho.
It’s Hammer, so the ladies are obviously gorgeous (Jacqueline Pearce, hommana hommana) and the pairing of Harry and Tom (Ray Barrett and Michael Ripper), as the heroic Grenadier and wizened pub landlord, is a duo that should have had some more monsters to hunt.
How’s the picture and sound?
Lovely. The results of the restoration are wonderful. The picture is sharp and the colours are beautiful. Initially watching the movie impresses, but it’s not until you see the restoration featurette that you can truly appreciate the work that has gone into this polish and the enormous difference between the faded negative and this dolled-up picture that looks like it was shot yesterday.
Audio-wise, there’s nothing to choose from, it’s a stereo track or nothing. Luckily, it’s a robust uncompressed LPCM stereo track – so you’re all good.
There’s the restoration piece I just mentioned. Sequences from the film are shown with a split down the middle. The original is on the left and the tarted up new version is on the right. Getting to see the stark contrast really makes you wanna give the guys responsible for the conversion a high five.
The Making of Featurette is really, really, really good too. Hammer know-it-all Marcus Hearn, my hero Mark Gatiss and others all take turns having a yak. They fill us in on their own feelings for the film as well as dropping knowledge bombs about the music, the budget, the reshoots and the restoration.
The original theatrical trailer rears its head as well as an episode of World of Hammer that focusses on “Wicked Women”. Narrated by the legendary Oliver Reed, this bit at first feels like a treat, but is actually a bit disappointing. It boils down to a clip compilation with the odd, obvious, interjection from Reed.
Yes, it’s aged, but it can still shock and could still show a lot of modern filmmakers a thing or two about atmosphere and fear. Restored and slapped onto Blu for the first time, Hammer’s The Reptile is a great film done justice by a magnificent transfer.
Extras Features Rating:
When’s it out?
The Reptile slithers onto shiny Blu-ray on 18th June