“You’ve no respect for the dead.” “I’ve more respect for hard cash.”
In the 1820’s in Edinburgh Scotland Burke (Derren Nesbitt) is a cobbler and Hare (Glynn Edwards) runs a boarding house. One of the roomers in the boarding house dies. Presumably of natural causes. Instead of taking the body to the undertaker they sell it to Dr. Knox (Harry Andrews). He runs a medical college and is always looking for fresh bodies to conduct classes in surgery. The windfall is tempting to Mr. Burke and Mr. Hare.
The next time someone at the boarding house is sick they take him and believing he is near death, wait. Becoming impatient they discuss killing him. This upsets the sick man since he can hear what they are saying and he tries to rally. Seeing their windfall go out the window they suffocate him. Now they have their body and no marks on it to show how he died. With a little practice they get good at killing.
Also going on is a subplot concerning a few students at the college that frequent the local house of ill-repute. One of the students, Arbuthnot (Alan Tucker), falls in love with one of the girls. When the bordello burns down two of the girls are looking for a place to stay. Maria (Francoise Pascal) is the next to succumb to Burke and Hare. When Maria is on the table. Arbuthnot goes to Dr. Knox but Knox tells him that Maria died of drink. Not believing this and getting no help from the authorities he begins his own investigation.
Part horror movie, part sex romp, “Burke and Hare” AKA “The Horror of Burke and Hare” is a British film that was released in 1972. Although the historic accuracy of the movie is in question the highlights are there. There was actually a Burke and Hare that did kill at least 16 people and sell them to the surgical college run by the real Dr. Knox. Both Burke and Hare were named William so in the movie one of them is called Tom. A small change so as not to confuse which man is which. The movie shows the wives of the two killers as having a big influence in the two men perfecting their life of crime.
For most of their crimes the two men picked on people who were basically forgotten. The poor and the homeless. Things started going awry when they got too greedy and started killing a little too close to home. James Wilson “Daft Jamie” was well known for his club foot. Marie was known by some of the students that went to the brothel. Dr. Knox was a surgeon that had contracted small pox as a child. He was blind in one eye and disfigured. He was an anatomist that taught at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
There are some scenes that are dark and grave, but then the rest is silly and frolicy. It’s a bi-polar movie. There’s nudity and some casual soft core porn. Mostly what you would see in your average comic sex romp. If you’re looking for straight horror this is not it. If your OK with naked people and silliness than you’ll find it amusing.
The movie stars Derren Nesbitt, Glynn Edwards, Harry Andrews, Yutte Stensgaard, Francoise Pascal, Yootha Joyce, Dee Shenderey, Robin Hawden, and Alan Tucker.