The Curator of Schlock #178: The Reptile

The Curator of Schlock #178 by Jeff Shuster

The Reptile

Because The Amphibian just doesn’t sound as sinister. 

Your Curator of Schlock is back from his one month hiatus that everything to do with planning hard for the future of schlock curation and nothing to do with visiting Disney theme parks in the Orlando area. I know. I know. Liar. Liar. Pants on fire. Some observations. Those spinning toys that spew out soap bubbles need to get banned before some kid gets soap in someone’s eye. Still, no TRON ride, but I did get a glimpse of the super cool TRON ride they’ve got in Shanghai Disneyland. I’m going to cry now. At least, the Carousal of Progress is still in play. There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow

But I’m not here to yack about great, big, beautiful tomorrows. I know many of you have been asking why haven’t more Hammer movies been covered on this blog and to that I say, “I don’t know.” May is Hammer movie month over here at the Museum of Schlock. Tonight’s entry is 1966’s The Reptile from director John Gilling.


This is pretty good one. I’ll never say that every Hammer movie is a gem, but as a studio, the films are collectively great. Just look at the poster. It’s got a half-snake woman hissing and baring fangs. That gives me the willies!

This movie starts out with some bearded guy getting attacked by something or someone in this old dark house. Before I can figure out what’s going on, his skin is turning black and blue and then the guy starts spitting out white puss. That’s a fairly horrible way to die. Anyway, this gentleman had a brother named Harry Spalding (Ray Barrett) who is married to Valerie (Jennifer Daniel). Harry’s brother wasn’t a rich man, but he did own a quaint little cottage in a town called Clagmoor Heath. Not much of an inheritance, but a free house is a free house. I’d like a house.


Apparently, people have been dropping off like flies in Clagmoor Heath, all due to a mysterious disease the locals call The Black Death. Ummm…yeah. It’s the snake woman.


Harry Spalding and his wife find the cottage ransacked. Harry then goes down to village pub and starts accusing the locals of trashing his brother’s place. They don’t take too kindly to accusations and I half expect the scene to devolve into some sort Straw Dogs fiasco, but they just leave the pub, insulted over the accusation. Harry befriends the pub owner, Tom Bailey (Michael Ripper) and the town crazy person, Mad Peter (John Laurie). They invite Tom Bailey over for breakfast and Mad Peter over for dinner. A good time is had by all. Until Mad Peter gets bitten by the snake woman and dies!

The Reptile (1966) Directed by John Gilling Shown from left: Jacqueline Pearce, Jennifer Daniel

Tom Bailey helps Harry dig up his brother’s grave and, wouldn’t you know it, there are two fang marks on his neck. Harry has a neighbor named Dr. Franklin (Noel Willman) that Wikipedia describes as sinister, but that I would only describe as unpleasant. Dr. Franklin has a beautiful young daughter named Anna (Jacqueline Pearce) that plays the sitar and turns into a snake woman at night to kill the townsfolk.


I think we find out that it’s some kind of curse a cult from India placed upon her. I think if a cult placed a curse on me, I’d turn into a duck-billed platypus man. The movie could be called The Platypus.

Duck-billed Platypus

Jeffrey Shuster 3

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124, and episode 131) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

One response to “The Curator of Schlock #178: The Reptile”

  1. Well,you’r enow covering schlock that I’m familiar with, so while I could’ve made comments on any of the other movies you’ve talked about, this one will have comments based on actually seeing the thing.

    I nuned this one down becaue Jacqueline Pearce played Servalan in “Blake’s 7” and because a stil from it appears in Denis Gifford’s “Movei Monste3rs” from 1971, but it took years to finaly get it on DVD and, just because things work that way, I finaly got it thtree weks after a Blake’s 7 where I could’ve got Ms Pearce to autograph it! Proof, if proof be needed, that whatever force governs the universe really ahtes my guts.

    One of the interesting things about tit is that I would’ve sworn blind that Peter Cushing played the father, but apparently not. So now I’m just grafting Peter Cushing into things in which he doesn’t appear, so take that ‘Rogue One’.

    The sitar sequence is one of my favourite schlock pieces of all time. How do you make a sitar solo into some kind of building sexual thing? Well, they did it here. These days when sex is thrown at us all the time it’s hard to see how a sitar solo could do it for anyone not hopelessly enmeshed in some sort of fretted instrument fetish, but before decimal currency in Australia (and England0 and the Zone Improvement Program in the US this was how innuendo worked. I wondernow who actually played th sitar for the sequence?

    The lesson is that if you’re in some far-flung oart of the Empire, don’t piss off the natives – and if you ned acure for th curse, get as far away from where there might be one as possible. Because this is such a stupid lesson is why there’s very little British Empire left today.

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