Going into The Doctor and the Devils, I didn’t know much about the history behind the true story this movie is based on. After the movie finished, which I enjoyed quite a bit, I looked up the history of Burke and Hare and how they murdered people for money and sold them to a doctor for research. That is exactly what the movie is about, minus quite a few extra murders the real killers did. As for the movie itself, it’s chalk full of actors you’ll recognize and it’s a lean 93 minutes, so you’ll never be bored. Add on that this is another Scream Factory release, so you know you will be getting great looking video, audio, and a few extra special features. I could pretty much stop the review here, but I will continue for a bit just to give you something to waste your time on…
Product Information DISCS: 1 RUN-TIME: 93 min ASPECT RATIO: 2.35:1 RESOLUTION: 1080p AUDIO: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 LANGUAGE: English SUBTITLES: English REGION: A RATING: R PRODUCTION DATE: 1985
Short nitty-gritty plot description from Scream Factory is as follows:Based on Dylan Thomas’ original screenplay, this shocking horror-thriller stars Timothy Dalton as Thomas Rock, a brilliant young anatomy professor in 1820s Edinburgh. At first accepting only the cadavers provided him for study – those of a few hanged criminals per year – Rock eventually recruits two grave robbers (Jonathan Pryce and Stephen Rea) to secure a better supply of corpses. Coming to the gory conclusion that they will earn more the “fresher” the corpses, the two begin committing murder and delivering warm bodies to the doctor’s lecture chambers. Also starring Julian Sands, Patrick Stewart and Twiggy, The Doctor and the Devils brings classic chills from start to finish!
Tatlock’s Quick ‘n Dirty Review: Having been based on a screenplay by Welsh poet and author, Dylan Thomas, The Doctor and the Devils is a slow burn, but one that has wonderful performances from all involved (I mean come on, how could you not when you have people like Timothy Dalton, Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Pryce) and set pieces that really show off the 19th century this movie takes place in. I’ll give props to the makers of the movie, they really did a good job on showing how many of the prostitutes probably actually looked like back then. Wowzers that is some scary stuff!
The one thing that rather bums me out about the actual movie, is after reading the true story, I wish they would’ve focused a little more on the killers, named Fallon and Broom (names changed from Burke and Hare) and a few more of their murders. The movie is sold as a thriller, but honestly, hardly any of the kills I would deem frightening. In fact, more often than not, I thought I was watching a dark comedy (maybe Mel Brooks had a little more involvement in the final product than he thought).
Twiggy as a prostitute is probably the only one that seems out of place.
I am going to go out on a limb here and say I am probably not the only one that agrees with Doctor Rock, in that in order to advance; we need to be able to study actual fresh humans. Yeah, the way in which he ends up getting the corpses is definitely wrong, but there are moments in this movie where you may find yourself agreeing with the good doctor. It is an interesting and thought-provoking movie in that regards.
Blu-ray Opinion: I find Scream Factory did a wonderful job with this Blu-ray release, which honestly, were you expecting they wouldn’t? I am however a little disappointed in the lack of any substantial special features. The Blu has a short 15-minute video of Mel Brooks, Jonathan Sanger and Randy Auerbach chatting about the film. It is actually informative, but I think I would have liked it to be a little longer. Besides that, you have a trailer for the movie and a commentary from author Steve Haberman, who goes into some more details of the movie.
– Commentary With Author And Film Historian Steve Haberman
– New Interview With Executive Producer Mel Brooks, Producer Jonathan Sanger And Former Brooksline Development Executive Randy Auerbach (15:42)
– Theatrical Trailer (1:32)
Verdict: The Doctor and the Devils is full of familiar faces and a story that doesn’t frighten much, but still keeps you entertained. The Blu-ray from Scream Factory looks and sounds great and has a small amount of special features, but enough value for me to recommend it.