THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVILS
Freddie Francis was one of the finest directors to emerge out of the Anglo-horror school of the 1960s. (See below for Freddie Franciss other films). By the 1980s, Francis was one of the few directors from the Anglo-horror school still in the business. The Doctor and the Devils marked Franciss return to the directors chair after a decades absence his last film was The Ghoul (1975). The Doctor and the Devils could almost have been a film of the old Hammer school a Hammer film with a better budget. Certainly, a better budget is something that allows the presentation of Edinburgh as a grim and grimily realistic Victorian ghetto. The Doctor and the Devils was about the only horror film during the 1980s to be set in the 19th century that used to be Hammers regular stomping ground which probably says something about how much the horror film has changed since the demise of the Anglo-horror cycle. And as such, The Doctor and the Devils was very much an anachronism in its year and not many people went to see it. There is a faint old-fashionedness to its plot it is ever so contrived at times and swings some ungainly plot devices the diamond ring, the well-educated Dr Murrays dalliance with a street prostitute devices that seem extremely familiar to the sedately controlled type of plot that Hammer films specialised in but much more hokey amid the greater realism of this film.
Where The Doctor and the Devils succeeds is in its literate articulation of the characters of Dr Rock/Dr Knox and Fallon and Broom/Burke and Hare. Freddie Francis makes strikingly potent contrast between Rocks idealistic fervour and Fallon and Brooms naked greed. (The films sympathies initially do lie in a understanding of Rocks idealism, although by the end, the film condemns him, resorting to the old Anglo-horror potato of the anti-science polemic).
Essential to the conviction the characters have is the films impressive cast line-up. Particularly good is Timothy Daltons handsome and charismatic performance as Rock he fires the films idealistic fervour up. Dalton is balanced out at the other end by Stephen Rea and in particular Jonathan Pryce Pryce gives us Fallon as a filthy psychopath driven purely by greed with no redeeming human values whatsoever. The casts Scottish accents have a tendency to waver or get forgotten from time to time, although the worst performance comes from Twiggy whose attempt to swing a Cockney accent is thoroughly unconvincing.
Freddie Franciss other genre films are:- Vengeance/The Brain (1962), Paranoiac (1962), Nightmare (1963), Dr Terrors House of Horrors (1964), The Evil of Frankenstein (1964), Hysteria (1965), The Skull (1965), The Psychopath (1966), The Deadly Bees (1967), They Came from Beyond Space (1967), Torture Garden (1967), Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968), Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly (1969), Trog (1970), The Vampire Happening (1971), Tales from the Crypt (1972), Tales That Witness Madness (1972), Craze (1973), The Creeping Flesh (1973), Legend of the Werewolf (1974), Son of Dracula (1974), The Ghoul (1975) and Dark Tower (1987).