Peter Cushing is almost a modern day Jack the Ripper in this cheesy psycho killer flick from a very 1960s England.
Cushing plays an aging surgeon with a much younger fashion model girlfriend. They go to a swinging party, but Cushing’s not a hip cat and doesn’t want a sleazy photographer taking pictures of his lady naked in front of an eager crowd, so he fights with the guy, and the end result is that his woman’s face is horribly disfigured! But the good doctor has a plan, and he discovers a way to rejuvenate her beauty. It only takes a gland transplant, but it’s temporary, and soon enough his damaged girl is demanding he do more transplants, which leads to murder, dismemberment, and mayhem. Yeah, it’s basically Eyes Without a Face meets Psycho in a swinging ’60s Peeping Tom kind of London.
There’s a great contrast between the old England and the new in the 1960s, between Cushing’s dapper dress and stiff-upper-lip manner and the wild and carefree kids who surround him. Yes, the movie is more than a little hokey with its 1960s music, dress, and aesthetics, but it’s really about the contrast between the old and the new, with modern youth and modern technology spiraling deeper into the uncontrollable. To add to the fun, while Cushing is reluctant to engage in his dark duties, it is his youthful girl that continually drives him towards murder and despair. And in the final third of the film, when he crosses paths with a young gang of hoodlums who are hellbent in trying to rob him blind, everything comes to a crashing end.
With a surgical laser.
So now we’ve gone in a weird Funny Games kind of space, and it all turns out to be a dream sequence. Well, that’s…something. You know what? I’ll take it. We don’t often get to see Cushing in the modern day setting, so it’s a nice change of pace.