It also has some good actors, notably Peter Cushing, as Sir John Rowan, a plastic surgeon finding himself in the unlikeliest of happenings thanks to his young model fiancée named Lynn played by Sue Lloyd who always manages to carry across the complex emotion with just a tinge of irritation. Here she encourages her husband to be to make the effort to attend a party at her photographer’s fab flat.
The snapper is Mike Orme, “randy Scouse git” Anthony Booth, yes future father-in-law to Labour’s most-successful PM… here he’s a shallower/shabbier version of David Hemmings’ character in Antonioni’s classic and clearly here to show the gap in age, style and attitude to Sir John. While Mike makes like Bailey with Lynn, Sir John tries to make small talk with a wide-eyed young woman called Kate (Vanessa Howard) who’s already so far gone with the spirit of the evening that she’s far too high above the light fandango to trip over it.
Kate is just a passing character… or is she? Anyway, events take an unpleasant turn for the worse when Sir John, trying to pull Lynn away from the attentions from Mike only succeeds in starting a fight during which a huge, hot lamp falls onto Lynn’s face, scarring her for life.
It’s a tragic accident and one caused entirely by Sir John’s jealousy and as Lynn struggles bitterly with her disfigurement with the help of her rather striking sister Val (Kate O'Mara, who does have a lucky face…), the surgeon focuses all his energy on devising a cure. There is no known cure of course but you know he’ll find one and, when Sir John is caught hanging around the morgue with his bag and some sharp knives you know he’s up to no good. His colleague, Noel Trevarthen (Steve Harris), overlooks the mild infraction of stealing a small body part form a dead person… but that’s his last warning (probably).
|Cushing, Booth and Lloyd... before things blow up!|
Soon after Lynn appears and her face is restored to its former beauty; it’s astonishing and Noel cannot believe it fast enough… But, of course, it’s only a temporary fix and soon Lynn requires more treatment and, John being barred from the dead has only one choice, to take what he needs from the living. He heads off to old Soho to find someone morally less deserving of life… it’s gruesome and the next day whilst the papers are full of stories on the new “Ripper”, medically trained and everything, whilst Lynn reappears ready to resume her modelling career.
The more she’s cured the more she wants to be cured and you know that this life will only lead the couple to more and more desperate straits. Sir John pursues a young woman onto a train (Valerie Van Ost), the type with carriages and no walk-way, he traps her and their struggle is genuinely quite unpleasant to watch.
|Wendy Varnals runs for her life|
There’s another horrific scene in which Terry runs for her life pursued by both John and Lynn on the beach; Wendy Varnals acts her socks off here and it is again genuinely unsettling, trapped on a Sussex beach with little chance of escape, the basest of animal pursuits. And, far worse is to come…