There are two mostly separate stories going on here, both of which inch along at a snail's pace due to Hammer Film's typically long-winded storytelling methods. Peter Cushing plays an archaeologist who returns from New Guinea with a rare skeleton. His research leads him to the (ridiculous) theory that 'evil' is a disease and it has been passed on from his dead wife to his wacky daughter. He concludes that the skeleton he recovered is a pure form of this evil but could be used to inoculate his daughter before she goes off the deep end. And then what happens is -1:14:33 followed shortly thereafter by -1:11:44. And who could forget -1:07:25? Ahem, sorry. I've developed a bad Horrorthon habit of staring at the time-remaining-display on my DVD player when watching movies I'm not that into.
Luckily Christopher Lee is his half brother who runs an insane asylum. When Lee discovers the bit about the pure evil, he has no choice but to get his hands on that skeleton for his own twisted agenda - experimenting on the nutters that he's supposed to be caring for. But what of the professional ethics involved in stealing? "Oh indeed, indeed" he says reassuringly, "that is why I shall have to employ someone for whom ethics have no significance!" Is there anything better than Christopher Lee being a bastard? And can't he and Cushing ever get along? Most of Cushing's life on earth was spent defending the world against Lee's diabolical schemes.
The first hour drags on like an insurance seminar. But if you can make it to the last half hour, your reward is a classic spooker with appallingly bad effects, even for its time. The skeleton grows flesh when it comes into contact with water and eventually grows into this totally scary monster:
And if you're a fan of stage coach chases, you will not be disappointed with this one. "Hee-yaah!"