Friday, October 28, 2005

Feel the Fright, Luke!

The chills of fall set in our bones
All hallows' eve approaches
Vampires, werewolves, mummies roam...
Headless coachmen drive their spectral coaches
Monsters, spooks, demons...stomp, slither, creep and crawl
Hunters, slayers, priests and deacons...Lay siege and vanquish all!
~Me

A few films you might like to see for the season that star Star Wars-connected actors, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing:

Top three...
Dracula~1958 (also known as the Horror of Dracula) <--- a="" an="" and="" are="" aristocratic="" as="" at="" athletic="" be="" beat.="" best="" but="" by="" can="" chain.="" chemistry="" complete="" compliment="" count="" cushing="" dark="" dashing="" dracula.="" dracula="" far="" favorite.="" featured="" feel="" film.="" first="" goodness="" hammer="" he="" helsing="" horror="" i="" in="" is="" it="" just="" lee="" monster....lee="" more="" my="" of="" on-screen="" outright="" peak="" personal="" portrayed="" powerful="" rather="" s="" seductive="" sensually="" shame="" strong="" swashbuckling="" t="" than="" that="" the="" their="" think="" this="" time="" to="" top="" van="" was="" wasn="" well-mannered="">Curse of Frankenstein~1957 - Cushing's and Lee's first pairing together and the beginning of Hammer's Renaissance of the horror genre. Boy, Peter Cushing's Baron Victor Frankenstein is delightfully obsessive...Cushing is immersed in his Frankenstein. And even though Lee has no dialogue his performance shines brightly as the tortured and sympathetic monster trapped in a hideous and mute shell. Great fun and horror!

The Mummy~1959 - Lee, in another role absent of dialogue, performs amazingly well with his eyes and body movements as the living-dead Egyptian priest, Kharis. He manages to evoke just enough sympathy from the viewer while brutally picking off his victims. Cushing is just a joy to watch here, he is equally at home in the role of hero as that of evil genius.

The Creeping Flesh~1973 - Scientist thinks he's got the cure for evil but the best intentions always go BAD...always! Do they never learn?

Cushing and Lee play rival half-brothers, Emmanuel and James Hildern respectively, with James being the less successful and more desperate of the two, any character (in any film) that runs an insane asylum might turn out to be a little unstable. Emmanuel Hildern's the more rational of the brothers yet he's the one who believes he can remove evil from the human race by fighting fire with fire, injecting humans with cleansed-of-evil blood cells from the water-regenerated flesh of a New Guinean skeleton/fossil with a huge cranium!!

I love the idea of the creeping flesh from dry bone, like Mogwai..do NOT add water.

Dracula A.D. 1972~1972 - You just have to know going in to any film that has a its release year in the title is going to be heavy on youth-oriented pop culture du jour and will look and feel silly and dated immediately. As much as you want to be repulsed by the over-the-top 70's [unintentional] camp you can't help but be sucked in. Lee and Cushing, among all the "way out"-ness, manage to keep their regal composure as actors and as their respective characters, Dracula and Van Helsing. Mostly fun.

Horror Express~1972 I only recall seeing parts of this film waaaaaaayy back, years ago. I remember Lee and Cushing of course and the manner in which the victims turn up dead on the train bound for London via Siberia..blood from the eyes (which go opaque), ears, nose and mouth but I don't recall anything else. I must've fallen asleep. Might have to add this one to list of films to revisit.

Hound of the Baskervilles~1959 Hell hounds...gotta love hell hounds. Cushing is by far my favorite Sherlock Holmes (I'm sure by know you realize that I might be a Cushing fan) and he does a splendid job portraying the great detective of Baker Street. Lee does well as the romantic Baskerville. And the sets are terrific. Good combination of mystery and Gothic horror.

House of the Long Shadows~1983 - The first hour and a half are worth the admission price (if renting) but the film starts to stumble after it's first of several "endings," the characters are a tad cliched - wasn't everything in the eighties?

House that Dripped Blood~1970 - Lee in Sweets to the Sweet and Cushing in Waxworks. Note: Denholm Elliott (Raiders of the Lost Ark was in Method for Murder)

I, Monster~1971 - Fairly good retelling of Jekyll and Hyde...why the names were changed to Dr. Marlowe and Mr. Blake is a mystery and I can't say I enjoy watching Lee's slightly goofy portrayal of the killer Hyde...er...Blake.

Night of the Big Heat (or Island of the Burning Doomed)~1967 - I prefer the alternate title Satanic Rites of Dracula~1974 - Much better than Dracula AD 1972. Adding always watchable Joanna Lumley to the cast worked. Ditto on Lee and Cushing here again....and no funky grooviness.

Scream and Scream Again~1969 - Vincent Price has the largest role between the three actors and that's not saying much...Lee and Cushing's total screen time can't amount to much more than 10 - 15 minutes with Price leading at 20. Misleading billing.It's ok. Not sure where it wants to go for the first hour then tries to tie together and tidy up an unraveled mess of the creation of blood sucking super beings through Price who's getting the parts from...elsewhere (unsuspecting jogger,) who knows what this film is about.

One More Time~1970 - This is a comedy not horror but Lee and Cushing (both uncredited) revisit their most iconic roles...Dracula and Dr. Frankenstein, respectively.

Nosher Powell (ANH stuntman) and Harry Fielder (Death Star Guard - ANH) also make uncredited background artist appearances.

~~Other Peter Cushing horror films with Star Wars connections:
Legend of the Werewolf~1975 - Harry Fielder (Death Star Guard - ANH and extra extraordinaire!)

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed~ - Harry Fielder (Death Star Guard - ANH and extra extraordinaire!)


~~Other Christopher Lee horror films with Star Wars connections:
Sleepy Hollow~1999 - Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine), Ray Park (Darth Maul), Nick Gillard (stunt coordinator/Cin Drallig)

Scars of Dracula~1970 - Morris Bush (Dengar - ESB)

Theatre of Death~1967 - Julian Glover (General Maximilian Veers - ESB)


~~Small bits of Lee/Cushing horror trivia...Christopher Lee and Vincent price shared a birthday, May 27th...Peter Cushing's birthday fell on May 26th.

Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee were film in The Devil's Agent~1961 but every frame of film showing Peter Cushing was edited out of the final film.

Cushing and Lee starred in 22 films together and were very good friends.

~~ Have a wicked weekend.

May the Mayhem be with you!

LM

3 comments:

Nerf-Herders Anonymous said...

Grand Admiral Veers0

date Posted: Oct 28, 2005 4:19 AM
Quite an extensive and informative list, Nerf. I could hardly see all of them but The House that Dripped Blood, Hound of the Baskervilles, Sleepy Hollow and Dracula sound very interesting.
Maybe my interest in horror'll be rekindled and I can enjoy Halloween after all! (I swore off horror films after The Exorcist scared the s**t out of me)

Nerf-Herders Anonymous said...

oyjaswf

date Posted: Oct 28, 2005 8:46 PM
Huh? Where did you do your research?
This is way too extensive for comfort....your details are the ones that are scary......
*gulp*

Nerf-Herders Anonymous said...

NerfHerdersAnonymous
Life, the Star Wars Universe and Everything

date Posted: Oct 28, 2005 9:16 PM
Yes, scary.
My job is done here. LOL

LM