Made by Hammer Film Productions, The Reptile is a 1966 British horror starring Noel Wilman, Jacqueline Pearce, Ray Barrett, Michael Ripper and directed by John Gilling.
For those familiar with the Hammer production The Plague of the Zombies, this movie will feel very familiar. The Reptile was filmed back to back with The Plague of the Zombies so used many of the same sets, locations & even shared actors.
In the village of Clagmoor Heath in Cornwall the ‘Black Death’ appears to be killing off some of the locals. One victim is Harry Spaulding’s (Ray Barrett) brother, Charles. Harry inherits Charles’ house so visits the village with his wife, Valerie (Jennifer Daniel).
The couple are met with hostility by the locals & only the pub owner, Tom (Michael Ripper) is friendly to them. Tom tries to explain the townspeople’s behaviour as fear of the ‘Black Death’ which intrigues Harry who starts to do some enquiring about his brother’s death.
He meets a local ‘madman’ who warns Harry about a creature but dies later of the supposed Black Death. Suspicious, Harry talks Tom into digging up some of the bodies of the recently departed & discover snake like bites on their necks, including Harry’s brother Charles!
It seems as though these people didn’t die of the Black Death but at the hands of some sort of creature!
As Hammer Horror as they come, The Reptile doesn’t just feel overly familiar because of The Plague of the Zombies. No, it looks & feels every bit like a Hammer production should, which is certainly no bad thing.
That’s what The Reptile is…no bad thing! It’s far from the cream of what Hammer were bringing out back then but it certainly holds up & is very entertaining. There are some great performances, in particular from Michael Ripper.
There is a wonderful sense of cheesiness to The Reptile, the plot is extremely silly but it’s played incredibly straight. As only British horror can. Attempts to create tension don’t quite hit the mark but it does a great job of creating & sustaining mystery.
The finale is action-packed & quite thrilling, taking the story in an unexpected direction. While it isn’t going to leave a lasting impression it can certainly be called a recommendation for Hammer horror fans.