Thursday, January 22, 2015

Timothy Dalton Week: The Doctor and the Devils

Welcome back for Day 3 of Timothy Dalton Week. Today I found a horror film that Dalton was in. Oh yes it does exist and of all craziness stars Julian Sands, Johnathan Pryce, Stephen Rea, Twiggy and Sir Patrick Stewart. Where in the fresh hell could I have found this concoction of terror and talent? Well truth be told, I just looked on Dalton's filmography on IMDB, did some searches for the movie and boom. Yeah very light research on this flick. This is The Doctor and the Devils.

Class is dismissed and I need a vodka martini. Shaken, not stirred.

From the awesome power of Freddie Francis, director of such classics as: Day of the Triffids, Nightmare, Hysteria, The Deadly Bees and Dracula Has Risen from the Grave comes the tale that is actually based on a Dylan Thomas screenplay following the real life murder cases of William Burke and William Hare. These two men supplied fresh cadavers for scientists to study anatomy on during the Victorian Era in Scotland. Yes these two unscrupulous men would deliver fresh bodies to scholars because at the time of these studies, donation to science was deemed ghoulish and only convicted felons that were executed were allowed to be used for discovery, anatomy and physiology.

Doctor Thomas Rock (Timothy Dalton) , a brilliant scientist holds lectures by day to enlighten his students but is dissatisfied, forced to work on weeks old convicts that will not teach him anything new and exciting on the subject of death. To hone his skills of his profession he needs fresher bodies to work on given refrigeration is still in its infancy. His assistant Doctor Murray (Julian Sands of Warlock, Boxing Helena, Witch Hunt, Timecode, Rose Red and Blood and Bone) toils with what can be done when a pair of disreputable men approach him in a tavern offering their despicable talents for retrieval of the freshest of corpses. Yup, grave robbery.

Blast, we've been nicked!

Mr. Fallon (Johnathan Pryce of Voyage of the Damned, Loophole, Timon of Athens, Jumpin' Jack Flash, Ronin and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) and Mr. Broom (Stephen Rea of The Crying Game, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, The Break, In Dream and V for Vendetta) tend to this need against the increasing fierce competition with the added bonus that they manage to find the freshest of bodies to be worked on make more than a pretty copper.

Doctor Rock is conflicted with the immorality of this offer but the chance to having a chance to evolve his findings and elevate his science to a practice that will bring information for generations to come. The very building blocks of medicine hang in the balance as he must argue with his superiors on a regular basis, he becomes obsessed with his work, overlooking his newfound body snatchers in order to drive the advancement of science out of the dark ages and to the upper echelons of science as it belongs... but where are all these bodies hailing from??? How is it Fallon and Broom manage to acquire them so easily with little fuss or muss??

A few interesting tidbits for the lot of us Yankees. While shot in clearly Edinburgh Scotland there is not a single Scottish accent aside from Patrick Stewart's Professor Macklin. Everyone else manages a bit of Cockney and proper English so you get the feel you supposed to be in London but still confused overall. Julian Sands' character feels redundant as he does not really bring much to the screen, no fault to Sands, it is just a small role for a good actor to shine through. Twiggy enacts as a lesser prostitute but the vibe is we could have put anyone in this role and does not bring much to the table. I cannot say who was my favorite out of this movie because Pryce and Rea steal the show but Dalton's presence is felt throughout the film. All three of these men gave so much life to their parts.

The interesting bit for the Americans that Mel Brooks' company Brookfilms produced this Gothic tale and it was actually quite disturbing and entertaining at the same time. This being one of the first horror movies to be produced by Brooksfilms to follow directly after would be David Chronenberg's The Fly. With this dark fable written by one of greatest obsessed minds of the 20th century, this is a gem hidden at the rental shelves for too long. Thankfully it has been out in DVD since 2005 and on Blu-Ray since October 2014 via Shout! Factory.

Sir, I think I dropped my signet ring in her spleen.