director Freddie Francis
I like to think that we all have our “holy grails” of childhood movies that we saw in our youth, affected us greatly, and have longed to see again. For me grails is definitely plural, and some of those holy grails are still more difficult to seek out than others.
Freddie Francis’s 1973 The Creeping Flesh starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee is absolutely one for me.
I saw it like a hundred years ago, and I can’t fully explain how this strange story about a giant Neanderthal skeleton that grows flesh when exposed to water struck my brain. It’s all too true that the movie isn’t quite as amazing as one might remember or have imagined it. Meaning that the flesh doesn’t creep quite as much as you’d like and the skeleton creature is more of promising intrigue than fully formed monster.
But still, it’s strange and weird, full of Freudian psychology, sex and repression, wonderful fantastical pseudo-science and pseudo-psychiatry. And a big phallic finger to rule them all.
The Creeping Flesh just happened to be coming on TCM just as I turned it over to it, a type of synchronicity and frisson that virtually never happens. My holy grail bucket list is one less item long.