‘The pimps and the prostitutes and the body-snatchers. The brothels and the dens of iniquity.’
Burke & Hare is a 1971 British horror film, directed by veteran Vernon Sewell (House of Mystery; The Blood Beast Terror; Curse of the Crimson Altar), based on a screenplay by Ernle Bradford. Producer Guido Coen also produced Womaneater in 1957. It is also known as Burke and Hare and The Horrors of Burke and Hare.
In the US, the film was distributed theatrically by Roger Corman’s New World Pictures.
In 2011, real-life murderers Burke and Hare were featured in a black comedy version of their infamous deeds.
Derren Nesbitt, Harry Andrews (The Nightcomers; Theatre of Blood), Glynn Edwards (The Playbirds), Yootha Joyce (Frankenstein: The True Story; The Night Digger; Our Mother’s House), Françoise Pascal (Incense for the Damned) and Yutte Stensgaard (Lust for a Vampire).
‘Although Harry Andrews contributes a solid performance, his efforts are undone by the one-dimensional characterizations of Burke and Hare, who are played mostly for laughs as a pair of moronic womanisers by Derren Nesbitt and Glynn Edwards. Director Vernon Sewell’s historical reinterpretation fluctuates between horror melodrama and lewd sexploitation in an attempt to distract viewers from the innate cheapness of his production.’ BritMovie.co.uk
‘Vacillating between melodrama and bathos, this moves uneasily from one unfulfilled promise to another, dogged from first image to last by an overwhelming mediocrity … Needless to say, the sexuality is prudish, coarse and vicarious in the Carry On style, and the attempts at horror are unconvincing in the extreme.’ Time Out
“Much time is wasted inserting supposedly sexy scenes in equally phony 19th century Edinburgh brothels and the acting, especially involving the duo’s pushy wives (Shenderey and Joyce), is played for braod comedy instad of incongruous horror…” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror
Cast and characters:
- Derren Nesbitt – Burke
- Harry Andrews – Dr. Knox
- Glynn Edwards – Hare
- Yootha Joyce – Mrs. Hare
- Françoise Pascal – Marie
- Yutte Stensgaard – Janet
- Robin Hawdon – Lord Angus McPhee
- Alan Tucker – Arbuthnot
- Dee Shenderey – Mrs. Burke
- Joan Carol – Madame Thompson
- Paul Greaves – Ferguson
- David Pugh – Daft Jamie
- James Hayter – Dr. Selby
- Thomas Heathcote – Paterson
- Duncan Lamont – Dr. Saint
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