The Man who Could Cheat Death
Michael Carreras, Anthony Nelson-Keys (associate) for Hammer
directed by Terence Fisher
starring Anton Diffring, Hazel Court, Christopher Lee, Arnold Marlé, Delphi Lawrence, Francis De Wolff, Gerda Larsen, Middleton Woods, Michael Ripper, Denis Shaw, Ian Hewitson, Frederick Rawlings, Marie Burke, Charles Lloyd Pack, John Harrison, Lockwood West, Ronald Adam, Barry Shawzin
screenplay by Jimmy Sangster, based on a play by Barré Lyndon, music by Richard Rodney Bennett
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George Bonnet (Anton Diffring) seems to have everything a man could
want, he's a highly respected surgeon and celebrated sculptor, his lovely
model Margo (Delphi Lawrence) has fallen head over heels in love with him,
his ex Janine (Hazel Court) still loves him and would choose him over her
current lover Dr Gerard (Christopher Lee) every day, and even his
erstwhile mentor (and idol) professor Weiss (Arnold Marlé) admires him
these days. But Bonnet also has a darker side - when he doesn't get his
medicine on time, he turns into a murderous green-skinned maniac, and in
one such instance he murders Margo.
What's his condition, you might
Well, he's found the secret of immortality, which lies within
certain glands, but after about ten years, these glands turn one into a
killer if they're not replaced or treated with his special medicine - but
even this medicine only works for a time. Bonnet wants Weiss to help him,
but since in Weiss' beliefs immortality is a sin, he outright refuses to
do so - and in a fit of rage, Bonnet kills him in cold blood. Then he
turns to Gerard for help, but not only because both of them are interested
in the same woman, Janine, Gerard refuses ... so Bonnet kidnaps Janine and
forces Gerard to replace his glands this way - which Gerard only does to a
certain extent: Sure, he cuts up Bonnet and patches him up again, but
doesn't replace the glands. Bonnet only finds that out when he's about to
free Janine, but is then thrown into a fit of insanity and begs her to
become immortal with him - to her great shock. Eventually, he turns into a
green monster and dies in his lab burning to cinderes (like every good mad
scientist should), but not before Janine has made her escape of course ...
the late 1950's and early 1960's, director Terence Fisher made many a
classic horror movie - but The Man who Could Cheat Death is not one
of them, it's merely a well-staged, well-filmed, well-crafted and
well-acted period piece of the horror variety that despite all of its
qualities cannot deny the era it was made in and in its rather
old-fashioned ways will above all appeal to fans of horror nostalgia,
showing good craftsmanship but none of the vision Fisher fueled his
classics with. Still, not a bad film, but not a must-see either.