Is There A Doctor In The House?
- Legendary filmmaker Mel Brooks produces and renowned cinematographer Freddie Francis (Glory (1989), The Elephant Man (1980)) directs this pretty bad horror/drama film.
19th Century England has a different view of how the practice of medicine should be handled than Dr. Thomas Rock, the law stating that only the bodies of hung criminals can be studied and experimented on. But the stockpile of these bodies is a small one, and Rock needs more - and he prefers them fresher. Being a maverick within his circle, he begins to pay people to find bodies for him to study and test on. Desperate sleazebags Robert Fallon and Timothy Broom get wind of this job opportunity and begin to murder people and sell these bodies to Rock. Naturally, this kind of action has even worse consequences than practicing on the dead bodies of non-criminals, and leads to trouble for everyone. While the overall story sounds intriguing on paper, almost everything about The Doctor And The Devils (1985) is laughably bad.
After the first fifteen minutes of the film you are already beginning to question your decision of sitting down to watch the film. The entire look of the film is just ugly. Seeing as how the film takes place in the slums of England during the 19th Century, the filmmakers were probably going for an "ugly" look, but they don't do it in an artful way. Everything from the sets to the cinematography just look cheap, feeble, and disgusting. Also, just about everything scene is filled with something that you simply cannot take seriously, and most of the time this has to do with someone (both in the small and large roles) doing something that looks or sounds completely ridiculous. Francis sure did not help out his actors much.
Jonathan Pryce and Stephen Rea play the twisted buddies of the film, Fallon and Broom respectively, and are very bombastic but very bad. Their characters are by nature crazy, but Pryce and Rea overact the parts to death. They especially have trouble keeping the same accent from shot to shot - Pryce in particular goes from Cockney to Irish to Long John Silver to some kind of lagoon creature and so on and so forth.
It is also a humor riot to see Twiggy in this film at all, let alone playing an in-demand street whore, since she cannot act to save her life (though her song during the final credits is not so funny). Boy she sure came a long way: from "flower power" to "I'll take mee clothes off for a shillin'!" As bad as those three actors are in this film, Julian Sands takes home the award for the worst performance of the film. He is just as lame as it gets, giving one laugh-out-loud attempt after another at portraying anger, love, happiness, anxiety - pick an emotion, any emotion!
There is only one good thing about The Doctor And The Devils: Timothy Dalton's performance of Dr. Rock. Despite being surrounded by cinematic sewage, Dalton is quite excellent; giving an electric portrayal of an overly driven yet good natured man. Too bad no one and nothing in the rest of the film was able to perform at the same high level as Mr. Dalton....
CBC Rating: 3/10