||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. (May 2010)|
|Directed by||John Gilling|
|Produced by||Anthony Nelson Keys|
|Written by||Anthony Hinds (aka John Elder)|
|Music by||Don Banks|
|Edited by||Roy Hyde
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||90 min.|
At the turn of the 20th century in the fictional village of Clagmoor Heath in Cornwall several locals are dying from what is deemed to be the "Black Death". Harry Spalding (Ray Barrett) inherits his late brother’s cottage and arrives with his new bride, Valerie (Jennifer Daniel) . The inhabitants of the village keep clear of the newly arrived couple, and only the publican, Tom Bailey (Michael Ripper), befriends them. Bailey explains that the hostility exhibited by the townspeople is the result of many mysterious deaths in the community.
The sinister Dr. Franklyn (Noel Willman), the owner of the nearby Well House, is the only resident in the vicinity of the cottage, and he lives with his daughter Anna (Jacqueline Pearce). The Doctor treats his daughter with cruel contempt, and she is attended by a silent Malay servant (Marne Maitland).
Hoping to learn something of the deaths, Harry invites the local eccentric, Mad Peter (John Laurie), home for dinner. After warning them that their lives are in danger, Mad Peter quickly departs only to return later that evening foaming at the mouth, with his face blackened and swollen. He dies within a few minutes. The Spaldings attempt to alert Dr. Franklyn, but Franklyn arrogantly states that Peter's death is not his concern.
In an attempt to help Harry clear up the mystery, Tom Bailey illegally unearths Mad Peter’s corpse and discovers a strange neck wound like a snake bite. Harry and Tom dig up the coffin of Harry's dead brother, Charles, and find that corpse also has those same strange marks. Realizing that they are threatened by something far worse than they had ever imagined, Harry is quick to answer an urgent message from the Well House. There he is bitten by a mysterious reptilian creature, but still he manages to return to his home and recover from the bite.
Meanwhile at the eerie abode, Valerie witnesses Dr. Franklyn’s attempt to kill his own cursed daughter. She also witnesses a fierce struggle between the doctor and the deranged Malay servant. During the battle, a lantern is overturned and Dr. Franklyn is bitten by the venomous fangs of his Reptilian daughter. The doctor dies and the final scene features the Reptile and the Well House crumbling in flames with Harry and Valerie fleeing for their lives.
- Noel Willman – Dr. Franklyn
- Ray Barrett – Harry George Spalding
- Jennifer Daniel – Valerie Spalding
- Jacqueline Pearce – Anna Franklyn
- Michael Ripper – Tom Bailey
- John Laurie – Mad Peter
- Marne Maitland – The Malay
- David Baron – Charles Edward Spalding
- Charles Lloyd-Pack – The Vicar
- Harold Goldblatt – The Solicitor
- George Woodbridge – Old Garnsey
The production was filmed back to back with The Plague of the Zombies, and used many of the same sets, including exterior shots in the grounds of Oakley Court (seen burning in the final frames). Pearce and Ripper appeared in both films.
It was well known that actress Jacqueline Pearce, as documented in several books on Hammer's history, disliked wearing the Reptile make-up as she suffers from claustrophobia. After this she vowed never to wear "creature" make-up in her future acting projects.
The film was released in some markets on a double feature with Rasputin, the Mad Monk.
The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films called the film "classic sixties Hammer".
- Marcus Hearn & Alan Barnes, The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films, Titan Books, 2007 p 103
- Hearn & Barnes 2007, p. 103.
- Hearn, Marcus; Barnes, Alan (September 2007). "The Reptile". The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films (limited ed.). Titan Books. ISBN 1 84576 185 5.