It’s been a bad week for deaths this week, and the worst for me is the passing of Christopher Lee. For an old horror fan like myself Lee is a pivotal figure as there’s plenty of 40-somethings that grew up watching Hammer horror films normally shown on the BBC during the summer back in the 1970’s, and in there was Christopher Lee’s immense performance as Dracula. The ending to that first Hammer Dracula film is still utterly brilliant.
For decades Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee were a great horror double act, but as can be seen in this video from 1994 featuring a sadly too frail Cushing, there was something great about a pair of actors who’s likes we’ll never see again.
For me my favourite film with the pair isn’t a Hammer film, but the truly insane Horror Express also starring Telly Savalas. It’s not as well made as the early Hammer films, but it’s a lovely little film that manages to cross the old British horrors of Hammer and the European exploitation film of the 1970’s. It’s also mental and it has a General Wang in it…
It’s some of the lesser known of Lee’s films that hold some real delights. Here’s the trailer for the British teen film Beat Girl (here in it’s American title of Wild For Kicks) that is just impossible to parody.
Then there’s Lee’s portrayal of Sax Rohmer’s supervillian Fu Manchu in a series of brilliant exploitation films.
Night of the Big Heat isn’t a film about painkilling ointment, but an odd British SF film that’s worth a look.
But sadly during the 1970’s and 80’s Lee ended up in more crap exploitation films than good, but one bright spot in The Return of Captain Invincible, a film much better than people give it credit for.
Thanks to people like Tim Burton, Peter Jackson and George Lucas Lee enjoyed a late career revival in the Star Wars prequels and the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit films, but it’s going to be always The Wicker Man for me as the film that showed Lee at his absolute best.
So cheers for the decades of entertainment, fun and horror. The planet isn’t ever going to see your likes again….