Monday, May 23, 2011

My Favorite Hammer Films

Horror of Dracula – this 1958 classic has the first appearance of Christopher Lee playing Dracula.  His interpretation of this classic bloodsucker is enigmatic, aristocratic and has a deeper malignancy than Lugosi.  The movie is fairly close to the original story, but the Hammer production is wonderfully lush and perfectly Victorian.

The Plague of the Zombies – one of my favorite zombie movies, POTZ has a great cast, a memorable dream-sequence, and an older main character, Sir James Forbes, who still manages to kick some ass.  Bonus: Those who enjoy Blake’s 7 will see a much younger Jacqueline Pearce (aka Servalan).

The Mummy – A team of Victorian-era archaeologists discover the tomb of Princess and unwittingly bring back to life the mummified remains of her High Priest (and lover).  Christopher Lee plays the wrapped mummy but manages to add some unexpected depth to this normally wooden character.

Rasputin the Mad Monk – a pure Christopher Lee vehicle, Rasputin is the story of the famed mad monk of Russia.  You can tell that Lee is having fun with this role as sexually-charged and violent priest.

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter – with the help of his hunchbacked friend, Professor Hieronymus, Captain Kronos fights a hooded vampire that is draining youth from the local maidens.  Bonus: the beautiful Caroline Munro.

The Devil Rides Out – Christopher Lee plays Duc de Richleau who tries to stop his friend Simon from being subjugated by the powers of Black Magic.  Guest appearance by Satan and “The Man with No Neck” from the famed Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The Hound of the Baskervilles – Peter Cushing does a remarkable job as Sherlock Holmes, perhaps even besting Jeremy Brett.  The plot is a little different from the book, but the movie is helped by Christopher Lee playing Sir Henry and Andre Morell as Watson.

Dracula has Risen from the Grave – bakeries, beer and blood is a short description of this movie.  A Monsignor finds a troubled village that is tormented by the memory of Dracula.  With the help of the local priest, they lock Dracula (Christopher Lee) out of his castle.  Dracula returns, seeking revenge on the Monsignor’s daughter, who is engaged to a local atheist college-student who is working at the local tavern, baking bread!

The Brides of Dracula – sadly, Christopher Lee does not make an appearance in this movie.  Instead, we are left with a less charismatic David Peel.  But Peter Cushing does reprise his role as Van Helsing, fighting against evil.  Bonus:  What to do when bitten by a Vampire?  Hot metal and holy water!


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