The patchy and uneven directorial career of Freddie Francis sits in stark contrast to his career as a cinematographer. Francis the director worked almost exclusively in the horror genre and constantly struggled to stretch his poverty row budgets too accommodate typically overambitious projects. Nevertheless Francis still managed to infuse his horror projects with visual panache and stylistic energy. Although Francis helmed a number of popular British horror films, it was extremely rare that he would push the boundaries of the genre. In my view he managed this on just two occasions. The brilliant and often surreal The Skull (1965) showed evidence of a purely cinematic form of storytelling to which Francis was well suited, and Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly (1970) stands out in Francis’ filmography for its peculiar eccentricities and weird offbeat tone. In 1973 Francis saw his nineteenth feature film released and there was a certain inevitability about him making a picture for Tigon. Tigon were known for a slightly off kilter approach to their horror productions, so it was something of a surprise that Francis was invited to direct The Creeping Flesh, which is easily Tigon’s most rigorous attempt to imitate Hammer’s brand of gothic horror.
© Shaun Anderson 2011