The Flesh and the Fiends

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The Flesh and the Fiends/The Fiendish Ghouls/Mania

 

 

Based on the true story of 19th century grave robbers and murderers, Burke and Hare. 

 

This is my review of a classic favorite, The Flesh and the Fiends (aka: The Fiendish Ghouls, aka: Mania!).

 

 

 

 

Starring: Peter Cushing, June Laverick, Donald Pleasence

Directed by: John Gilling

Ratings: Internet Movie Data Base; 7.1/10 …Rotten Tomatoes; 69%

Our Rating; 9/10

Available from: Amazon and eBay

 

 

 

 

 

51BVHF7W38L__AA200_The Flesh and the Fiends (aka; “The Fiendish Ghouls” 1960). The viewer is immediately grabbed by the grim setting of a graveyard and suspenseful music being played as two men are digging up a body and hoisting it out of it’s grave!

We are struck with how real it all looks.

The body in question is to be sold to Dr. Knox (Peter Cushing). A brilliant anatomist who will apparently go to any lengths to broaden the medical world’s knowledge of the human body.

 

 

A Devious Pair Indeed

It’s in a tavern brimming with a lot of noisy activity, drunkenness and even topless lasses (in 1960!) that we first meet Burk and Hare. They are as thick as thieves together. A regular pair of opportunistic villains who feed off of one another with their thoughts and plans.

It is the crafty Hare however who dominates and leads the more docile Burke.

William Burke is not a complete scrounger though, having a “missus” and even owning a run down lodging house. It is through it that the two are given their first notion of making a tidy profit when an elderly boarder dies owing Burke rent money.

It’s William Hare’s idea to sell the body to Dr. Knox in order to recover the money owed and to do the poor body a “kindly service”.

 

 

A Macabre Alliance

They meet Dr. Knox for the first time…It is a brilliant contrast between the two worlds of the distinguished surgeon and the lowly con-men.

This first unfortunate event triggers the devious Hare’s greedy imagination and with an immediate taste for money now, he finds their next opportunity in those who are still living!

 

An elderly lady is plied with drink and “kindly” escorted back to the lodging house. Once there it’s Burks job to “take care of her” as Hare watches, nervously imitating the others’ murderous actions and dancing about excitedly. His character is again highlighted by the reaction to a common rat with which Burke teases with glee.

Their next victim is a woman of the streets who has just broken off a relationship with a pupil of Dr. Knox in a side plot to the film. Her murder causes her ex-lover to himself become a victim, after his suspicions of Burk and Hare lead him to his demise.

 

Mob Justice?

A young simpleton is the final one to come under the pairs’ frenzied endeavor’s before they are finally observed and pursued by an angry mob!

Now.., I’ve been pursued by some angry mob’s in my time, but nothing compared to this one! …It’s huge!

 

………

 

 

This film just oozes class the entire way through! From the incredible characters and superb acting to the numerous side plots and substance. Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasance, George Rose, Renee Houston and Billie Whitelaw, they are all magnificent and seem to play their roles effortlessly.

The character study between the two infamous fiends is, I think, the highlight. But it’s also the abundant characters and goings-on which add so much weight to a very discerning telling of real subject matter…

 

 

 

Hope you liked this review of The Flesh and the Fiends. Would love to read your thoughts and opinions if you leave them in the space below.

 

 

Available here from Amazon and eBay

 

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16 Comments

  • Chris says:

    Wow what an awesome blog – love horror movies and love the way you have zoned in on the more classical titles. I can’t for the life of me remember if I’ve watched this one or not!
    Is it a English based Hammer Horror title or is it more towards the US area? It looks like one of the Hammer pictures but I cannot be sure

    • admin says:

      Hi there once again Chris, great to have you visit again. The Flesh and the Fiends, aka: The Fiendish Ghouls, aka: Mania(!) is a British release from 1960. I thought it may have been from Hammer too but no. It’s actually the first horror movie featuring Peter Cushing that wasn’t a Hammer production.

  • Jayunique says:

    I love the whole content of your website, everything goes together and falls into place. The words don’t blend in with the background and I can read everything easily. My best friend loves horror films, and she’d never leave me alone about them. I always agree to watch them with her because she pays for me haha.

    • admin says:

      Hahaha good to hear Jayunique. Sounds like a great deal to me! …I’d do the same thing! Thanks very much for the comment!

  • Paul says:

    What a nice post again. I love classic horros even though I am not even old. Somehow they always scare me much more then the new ones. I often visit your website for cool tips and it has been helpfull once again!. I have ordered this movie threw amazon and it has been worth it! Thanks a lot for the advice!

    • admin says:

      That’s awesome Paul! Great to now my site provides some helpful tips. Especially to those fellow fans of the old classics like yourself. Very grateful for you return visit my friend. Jamie

  • Barrack says:

    Wow… I think need to get this movie. I love old horror movies because to me they are much better. After watching the YouTube trailer it left me hanging and wanting to read more. They way you have written about this movie and how you give the story is short to the point again and very understable. I think I am going to get this movie. I love the preview.

    • admin says:

      I hope you do get yourself a copy of this film Barrack! It won’t disappoint! Thanks heaps for taking the time to comment! If you’re looking for the best place to buy, please go ahead and click the Amazon or eBay links towards the top and bottom of page. Thanks for your visit!

  • Armando says:

    Hi,

    I am not quite addicted to horror movies, perhaps because i prefer to watch movies about history or more real subjects, but I found that you have a great blog about horror here! It’s a great website for movie reviews. You have good information that could attract my attention to these kinds of movies. It’s nice to read your content.

    thanks lot

    Cheers

    • admin says:

      Grateful for your encouraging feedback Armando. It’s especially cool coming from someone who isn’t quite addicted to horror as you say. Hopefully the seed has been planted in you now though lolol. Jamie.

  • Tyler Redlev says:

    Interesting story.

    As a hardcore horror fan i must watch this. But i usually don’t have the time these days. When i watch, i usually watch modern horror movies. I actually like B-movies more than new age hollywood horrors. The spectrum between amateur and good studio quality is my preference.

    But i see old horror movies as a cultural asset and i think every horror fan should at least one time watch the epic good old horror movies.

    • admin says:

      I couldn’t agree more Tyler!…The old original classics are cultural assets to me too! Cool comment my friend, thanks for your return visit.

      I fully recommend The Flesh and the Fiends…It’s a complete masterpiece!

      Jamie.

  • JP says:

    I’m not into horror movies, but your review quite makes me wanna see the movie.

    Does this movie have any gore moments like actual horror movies have, cause I’m sure I’m not into that kind of stuff, like blood spilling or dismemberments.

    Is there any other horror movie you recommend to start giving it a try to get into horror movies?

    Great review, keep the good work, and the best of luck.

    • admin says:

      Hey there JP. Thanks very much for your visit! Glad that my review interested you.

      No, this film doesn’t contain gore/dismemberment etc but does feature scenes with dead bodies. …While not being as ghastly as todays films, these couple of scenes are quite real looking.

      As far as other films I would beg others’ to watch (lolol)…My Top 10 post would be a great place to start:

      http://bestclassichorrormovies.com/top-10-classic-horror-movies

      Please be sure to check out the ‘runner-up’ title’s at bottom of page as these are also brilliant!

      Thanks for dropping by JP! Jamie.

  • Mike says:

    Oh man, I love the classic horror films much better than the slasher type films of today. They’re just too violent and gruesome for me. This one looks like a lot of fun though and I’ll definitely check it out. How did you ever even find out about this film? Thanks for sharing!

    • admin says:

      Hey there Mike, yeah I agree, a lot of films, especially today, go for the shock value. They resort to a lot of blood and guts and gruesome killings. Even “jump scares” are, in my opinion, just a shallow way of scaring the audience. I really like the old classics because they weren’t dependent on any of these “cheap tricks” and were all about the character, story and the mood and settings.

      I found this film by accident really! I’d bought a cheap 4-movie pack which included, the original Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, House on Haunted Hill and Mania (Flesh and the Fiends). After watching all of them many times I became convinced that Mania was my favorite by far! I used to compare it with another classic based on the same theme called “The Body Snatcher” with Karloff and Lugosi. This film has always been one of my highest favorites, but I think The Flesh and the Fiends might just surpass it!!

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