Christopher Lee

31 Days of Horror - October 2011

They said it couldn’t be done. A fifth year of 31 Days of Horror? 31 more terror, gore and shower scene-filled movies worth highlighting? But Rejects always say die and never back away from a challenge (unless you count that time Landon Palmer was challenged to write an article using only words under twelve characters long), so we’ve rounded up the horror fans among us and put together another month’s worth of genre fun. Enjoy! Synopsis: A scientists (Christopher Lee) find a missing link frozen in the mountains of China, and knowing it’s the find of the century he bundles it up onto the Trans-Siberian Express for the long train ride home. Fools! The humanoid popsicle thaws out shortly into the trip and begins wreaking bloody havoc on the passengers and crew including Peter Cushing and Telly Savalas. Necks will be throttled, orifices will bleed profusely and the double-team of Lee/Cushing will run a train on a Russian countess (not really).

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To classic horror fans, the word “hammer” does not simply denote a tool or a now defunct 80s rapper, it is a six-letter seal of excellence. For years, Hammer Studios reached into the cache of our collective nightmares; resurrecting boogeymen theretofore romanticized in black and white and splashing them onto our eyes in savage, gorgeous technicolor. Their treatment of the likes Dracula, the Mummy, and Frankenstein’s monster not only reacquainted us with monsters, but introduced us to silver screen legends such as Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. After experiencing a popularity that made them a powerhouse, the studio seemed to have whispered meekly out of existence after a short-lived television swan song in the 1980s. But now Hammer Studios is poised, like so many of its signature villains, to rise from the dead with several new films released in the last few years and others currently in production; the newest being the upcoming The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe. In apparent celebration of this resurgence, the official Hammer historian Marcus Hearn has plundered the hallowed Hammer archives and come out with “The Hammer Vault.” This book is an epic, glorious catalog of some of the studio’s greatest marketing materials, behind-the-scenes photos, film props, and other artifacts of enormous cinematic significance. It turns out the only thing that ever managed to rival the dark beauty and grandiose gothic tone of Hammer’s films was its marketing for those films. The book is an absolute triumph not only for fans of the […]

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There’s not much one can really say about this first trailer for the much-anticipated The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. As with Peter Jackson‘s three previous Lord of the Rings films, the project looks gorgeous, meticulous, epic, stirring, just plain wonderful, and true to its classic J.R.R. Tolkien source material. So, yeah, I love it. With The Hobbit, we again return to Middle-earth and the Shire, and to a much younger Bilbo Baggins (a very well-cast Martin Freeman), to learn (the first half of) the epic tale that started all this ring business to begin with. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey comes complete with an all-star cast, including Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Evangeline Lilly, Andy Serkis, and Richard Armitage. It’s a testament to the world that director and co-writer Peter Jackson has created that so many of his Lord of the Rings cast came pack for this next go-round, journeying back in time to recapture some of that old magic. After the break, check out the first trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets his grading done early because school is off for the rest of the week. With three family movies opening in theaters for the Thanksgiving weekend, Kevin tries to keep things respectable. Reliving his childhood, he sings and dances his way into the theater for the revival of The Muppets, then takes a serious look at 3D and avant-garde filmmaking with Martin Scorsese’s latest film Hugo. Finally, he bundles up and heads to the North Pole on a search for Santa and his family, knowing it has to be exactly like it is depicted in Arthur Christmas. Movies don’t lie, after all, do they?

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It’s hard to overstate just how amazing it is to consider a big-budget, major studio-produced 3D family adventure centered on Georges Méliès. Before now, the work of the early cinematic innovator, whose movies (most famously 1903’s A Trip to the Moon) revolutionized and advanced special effects, has been relegated to film history texts and brief snippets of televised specials. If there’s one filmmaker to make Méliès matter again, to introduce him to a mass audience, it’s Martin Scorsese. After all, the Oscar-winning legend is not just one of the foremost cinematic masters, as a noted film preservationist, he’s among the chief protectors of the long, glorious and frequently threatened legacy of the motion picture. In Hugo, Scorsese transforms the trappings of a 3D holiday picture into a loving tribute to Méliès and the earliest masters of the cinematic dream factory. From the structure of its narrative, to the details of its plot, and the industrialized nature of its majestic visuals, this is a film infused with the joy and wonder of movies. Set amid the glittering magic of Paris in the early 1930s, the film follows 12-year-old orphan Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), who secretly lives in a train station. Hugo, who winds the station’s clocks, dwells inside a labyrinthine interior comprised of enormous grinding gears, rising steam currents, and other elaborate metallic concoctions. Among the latter is a non-functioning automaton brought home by Hugo’s late father (Jude Law), which the young man works on incessantly in the hope that he can bring […]

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It’s fascinating that the director of Taxi Driver is the man who put this together. Martin Scorsese once again shows his versatility by tackling Hugo, an adaptation of the popular children’s novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.” Interestingly, it look like he’s channeling Chris Columbus here with a healthy dose of Lemony Snicket. Yes, it looks fun and silly, but this trailer makes it look a bit too childish (and features far, far too much of Sacha Baron Cohen falling down and smashing into things Kevin James-style).

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Movies teach us many lessons, but perhaps the most important one is that, if you’re a young college woman, don’t waste your time off from school by researching witchcraft in New England. Christopher Lee (who else?) leads this exercise in terror as this particular blonde young college woman (Nan Barlow) stumbles upon a hotel where the inhabitants are over 300 years old and live off the blood of humans. Just like her! None of them sparkle.

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We covered The Wicker Man earlier for 31 Days of Horror, and we consider it a public service to those who may believe that the Nic Cage bad-fest was the original incarnation of the story. However, to make matters more confusing, someone out there has decided to make a sequel to the original (and not a sequel to The Wicker Bees). We repeat: this is a sequel to the original Christopher Lee, sex-crazed, flower child fear of the 70s. It is not Nic Cage trying to make a sequel to a movie no on liked. Now with even more Christopher Lee, but probably with less of his hair.

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When the calendar page turns to October, we Rejects have only one thought: horror. To celebrate this grandest and darkest of months, we’ll cover one excellent horror film a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 31 Films perfect for viewing on a dark, chilly, October night. If you, like us, love horror and Halloween, give us a Hell Yeah and keep coming every day this month for a new dose of adrenaline. Synopsis: Alerted to the disappearance of a young girl, staunch Catholic Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) arrives at Summerisle off the coast of Scotland to investigate. The island is overseen by Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee), who acts as a shepherd for a flock of citizens that adhere to a system of ancient pagan beliefs that celebrate sexual fertility and mankind’s connection with nature. The progressive attitude of the island not only challenges Howie’s faith in what he believes, but also his investigation as the mystery of the girl’s disappearance and the motivation behind it seems to thicken at every turn.

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Every Sunday in October, Old Ass Movies will be teaming with 31 Days of Horror in order to deliver a horror film that was made before you were born and tell you why you should like this. This week, Old Ass Horror presents the story of Dracula as seen through the beautiful, blood-filled eyes of Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and the entire Hammer Family. Synopsis: Retitled for American consumption as to avoid confusion with Tod Browning’s Dracula, this is a straightforward adaptation of Bram Stoker’s original novel that became the basis for so many movies. Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen) is turned into a vampire by the vicious Count Dracula, but when Doctor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) goes to investigate, he finds the fiend has already fled his castle and is headed to inflict more pain on Jonathan’s family by attacking his fiance.

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Criterion Files

The 1958 film Corridors of Blood is a loose depiction and dramatically hightened story about the discovery/invention of anesthesia in 1840’s London. Dr. Thomas Bolton (played by Boris Karloff, the godfather of horror actors) is the surgeon destined to find the cure for patient suffering in medically necessary amputations and other major surgical procedures after seeing the traumatic aftereffects on one of his former patients. His desire evolves into obsession, and his obsession leads him into unintentional addiction to the drugs he’d been testing primarily on himself. His reliance on the chemicals to both feed his compulsions and further his research causes others with less noble intentions to blackmail the doctor into fraudulently signing death certificates so that money can be claimed for the cadavers of murder victims.

None of this sounds particularly horrific, does it? Well, it’s about as horrific as it sounds. It truly is an emphatic representation of a horror gray area. The only components in the film that are found commonly in the horror genre are murders (though not gruesome) and a few actors who appeared frequently in many of the Hammer horror productions (Christopher Lee and Francis Matthews) of the 1950s through the 1970s. However, contained within the content of the film is an unintentionally representative depiction of human attraction to withstand watching others in serious pain. Dr. Bolton is not only a surgeon, but a professor and all of his surgeries in the film are done in the presence of spectators who are either wanting to learn, or want to see how quick the doctor can be in order to minimize the extent of excruciation.

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31 Days of Horror

From the late 1950s through the mid-1970s, Britain’s Hammer Films made an indelible mark on the landscape of horror movies. These films bridged the gap between the rather tame films of the 40s and 50s to the more visceral, violent faire of the 1970s and beyond.

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Saruman and The Hobbit

When Empire were interviewing Christopher Lee last week, they probably expected to hear about how he loved working on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Perhaps they even hoped to get him to talk about his disgust at being cut out of Return of the King. However, what they got sounds like the start of a brilliant storyline..

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published: 10.30.2014
B-
published: 10.29.2014
D+
published: 10.27.2014
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published: 10.24.2014
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