Finally filmed, Dylan Thomas's famous unproduced screenplay proves to be too cluttered with superfluous characters and incidents to really work as a movie, but director Freddie Francis (who made several of the memorable Hammer horror films of the 60s and 70s, apart from his career as a world-class cinematographer) fills it out with painstaking, compellingly sordid atmospherics: Victorian slums have never looked quite so grimy, so crowded, so swelteringly close—like kennels for humans. Thomas's story is based on the same incident Val Lewton used for his 1945 The Body Snatcher: in need of corpses for dissection, a professor of anatomy contracts with two street thugs to provide fresh specimens; the two suppliers soon discover that catching their goods on the hoof is quicker and cleaner than digging them up. As the professor, Timothy Dalton is too well spoken and rigid to express the depths of his character's moral dilemma, but Jonathan Pryce and Stephen Rea, as the two employees, have a demented comic rapport—they play together like a ghoulish Laurel and Hardy. With Twiggy, Julian Sands, and Phyllis Logan.
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