Directed by Freddie Francis* for Tigon, this film pairs Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing yet is made at the end of the era of British gothic horror. Yet despite how silly it gets, with Cushing holding a gigantic prehistoric finger that appears as sexualized as it gets, I love every single moment of this film.
Cushing is Prof. Emmanuel Hildern,a scientist who discovers an incredibly large skeleton — Anunnaki alert — that is older than other skeletons in the area, yet much more advanced. He hopes that this finding will win him the Richter Prize, but that award looks like its going to be won by his brother John (Lee), who has been looking over Emmanuel’s institutionalized wife for years. He plans on using his study of his brother’s wife to win that award and he also refuses to pay for the professor’s skeleton-finding trips.
Whatever this skeleton is, legend says that it was a monster that feared rain — maybe because the Great Flood wiped out the other Nephilim — and that it can grow skin when it comes into contact with water.
Hildern has a theory that if evil itself — the skeleton — can be a living being, then it can be biologically contained and treated like a disease. Using cells from the skeleton’s fleshy finger, he created a serum that can stop evil. After testing the drug on a monkey with good results, Emmanuel also immunizes his daughter Penelope, who may have inherited her mother’s mental illness.
Of course, the next day, the monkey has gone wild and now we have Penelope dancing on tables and slashing sailors. Soon, James finds out about the srum and kidnaps his niece and steals the skeleton, which gets exposed to the rain and becomes, well, a pretty goofy looking monster that I can’t help but completely be head over heels for.
I also love the ending of this movie, which is so open ended that you can see it as Lee’s character denying that his brother is related to him to sve his reputation or that Emmanuel was never a doctor at all, but just another patient. If that’s true, then who really took his finger in revenge? Does the monster exist?
You can watch this on Tubi.
*Don Sharp, who also made Psychomania, was the original director before Francis was hired to replace him.