Wednesday, June 17, 2015
R.I.P. Christopher Lee.
Iconic horror film actor Christopher Lee passed away on June 07, 2015, at the age of 93.
In the case of Mr. Lee, the designation of “iconic” could not be truer! Can you think of or speak the name of Christopher Lee and not think of horror? …I thought not!
Lee made his greatest impression on film audiences with many starring or key roles in movies made by the famous British studio Hammer Films. As I’ve often said in the Horror and Sci-fi Film Appreciation Society that I attend: “Hammer is a class act!”, producing almost deceptively lush product on relatively small budgets – lifted, to be sure, by the presence of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee as its main or “go-to” lead actors.
As best I can piece together, Warner Bros. likely brought Hammer Films to these shores with “The Curse of Frankenstein” in 1957, where Peter Cushing played the Doctor and Christopher Lee shambled about as the Monster. It had a fresh and different look from Universal’s eternally classic early 1930s-era horror films – and may have been just the wide-screen-in-color shot-in-the-arm the faded Horror genre needed to make a serious comeback in the United States.
Hammer and Warner Bros. soon followed this up with “Horror of Dracula” in 1958, with Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, and an amazing turn as Count Dracula by Christopher Lee! Reluctant as I am to lift anyone over the great Bela Lugosi, Lee was fantastic making the role his own and putting himself on the horror genre map forever!
Lee and Cushing were all over the Hammer horror landscape, in films released domestically by Warner Bros., Columbia, and even Universal who may have seen some serious competition from Hammer, but later joined forces with the British horror masters, releasing some memorable films including "Brides of Dracula", "The Phantom of the Opera" and "The Evil of Frankenstein", alas none of which starred Lee.
He even followed his old Hammer mate Peter Cushing into the Star Wars franchise.
A link to Christopher Lee’s credits at IMDB is found HERE.
For Hammer, Lee might have done turns as ruthless pirate captains – and even as Rasputin – but he will always be one of the screen’s best vampires – and (again) a true horror icon.
Rest In Peace, Christopher Lee, and thank you for some amazing cinematic experiences!