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The Doctor and the Devils

3.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

A 19th-century English anatomist pays grave robbers to supply cadavers, never mind how.

Special Features

  • Includes anamorphic widescreen and full-screen formats

Product Details

  • Actors: Timothy Dalton, Jonathan Pryce, Twiggy, Julian Sands, Stephen Rea
  • Directors: Freddie Francis
  • Writers: Dylan Thomas, Ronald Harwood
  • Producers: Geoffrey Helman, Jonathan Sanger, Mel Brooks
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: September 6, 2005
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009X75A6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,148 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Doctor and the Devils" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Based on a true story, The Doctor and the Devils present several fine performances by outstanding actors including Timothy Dalton, Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Pryce, Stephen Rea, and Julian Sands. Nineteenth century medicine for one forward thinking physician, Dr. Roc (Dalton), was the fight to teach medicine as science that relied on empirical fact and first hand observation, not folk lore and religious philosophy. His primary source was fresh cadavers, the fresher the better. Alas, the Victorian mind-set was in the dark ages and regulated the number of cadaver's faculty used for teaching. Into the situation stumble two fiends (Price and Rea) who recognize a quick way to earn money for cheap gin and the local harlot (Twiggy, miscast but not a bad performance) was grave robbing. Rather than steal dead bodies from graves, however, why not avoid the grave altogether? Killing any unfortunate who happened across their path, Pryce and Rea are soon Dr. Roc's best suppliers of fresh bodies. Science versus morality, need and ambition, truth before conscience are issues explored by the stellar ensemble cast. A superb film for any library.
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It's funny people should mention how much The Doctor and the Devils feels somewhat like a Hammer film, to which I would agree, but it's not really surprising given the director, Freddie Francis, actually made a couple of films for Hammer studios back in the mid to late 60s, including The Evil of Frankenstein (1964) and Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968). Based on a screenplay by Dylan Thomas, adapted by Ronald Harwood (The Pianist, Being Julia), the film stars a pre-Bond Timothy Dalton (Flash Gordon, The Living Daylights, The Rocketeer), along with Jonathan Pryce (Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen), and Stephen Rea (The Crying Game, V for Vendetta). Also appearing is famous 60s model Twiggy (The Blues Brothers, Club Paradise), Julian Sands (Gothic, Warlock), Phyllis Logan (Secrets & Lies), Siân Phillips (Clash of the Titans, Dune), and everyone's favorite bald headed mutant leader/starship captain (the one who doesn't wear a hairpiece), Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: Generations, Conspiracy Theory, X-Men).

The story, set in the 19th century, features Dalton as Doctor Thomas Rock, a teacher of anatomy in a prominent London medical school. Seems Dr. Rock has a problem in getting the teaching materials necessary to conduct his lectures...and by teaching materials, I mean fresh corpses. You see, back in the day it was believed that after death, one needed all his (or her) parts in order to appease Saint Peter and gain passage through the Pearly Gates, so much so the only corpses allowed for use in such manner, by law, were those of convicted criminals executed by the gooberment, the thinking being, I guess, that is if someone was heinous and deserving enough to be executed, there was no question as to the destination of their departed soul.
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Format: DVD
If you like gothic horror and tales of body snatching, you'll probably enjoy this chiller. Pretty great cast, Timothy Dalton, Twiggy, Julian Sands, Jonathan Pryce and Steven Rea all lift this film to a classy level with the guidance of director Freddie Francis who worked on some of the classic Hammer films. Both widescreen and full screen versions are on the disc and both audio and picture are of good transfer. There are however no extra features.
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THE DOCTOR & THE DEVILS is one of the best examples of a movie that I didn't appreciate the first time I saw it. The fact that the original script is by Dylan Thomas and that it was directed by Freddie Francis, celebrated cinematographer (THE INNOCENTS, THE ELEPHANT MAN) and occasional mainstream horror film director (DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, THE CREEPING FLESH) raised my expectations to such a degree that I was bound to be disappointed. The cast is an impressive one...Timothy Dalton (in one of his best performances), Jonathan Pryce & Stephen Rea (who are truly unsettling as Burke & Hare surrogates Fallon & Broom), Twiggy, Sian Phillips, and Patrick Stewart. The seediness of the 1828 Edinburgh West Port setting is well captured and the photography and editing are first rate. However I was too busy comparing it to THE FLESH & THE FIENDS the first time around to fully appreciate it but since it came out on DVD, I've now seen it 4 times and I keep finding more to admire.

First a little background on the film. The screenplay by Dylan Thomas was written in the late 1940s when British censors and a descendant of Hare's refused to allow the names of Burke & Hare to be used (a problem Tod Slaughter ran into with THE GREED OF WILLIAM HART in 1948) so he takes the Thomas Wolfe approach of telling the real story only changing the names (hence the aliases of Fallon, Broom & Dr. Rock). The unused screenplay was published after Thomas' death in 1953 but there were no immediate takers. By the time John Gilling made THE FLESH & THE FIENDS in 1959, he used his own screenplay and the ban on Burke & Hare had been lifted. Flash forward to 1985. Mel Brooks was coming off the highly successful film version of THE ELEPHANT MAN which was produced as a vehicle for Brooks' wife Anne Bancroft.
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