THE QUOTABLE CUSHING
As a lifelong Peter Cushing fan, I enjoy revisiting his signature moments.
From his memorable action sequences— he’s always leaping over something, or wrestling with some monster, or being strangled by Christopher Lee— to his superbly acted scenes, to his incredibly clever lines of dialogue.
THE QUOTABLE CUSHING deals with the latter, the dialogue. Granted, these lines were written by writers, but it was Cushing who delivered them, who brought these lines to life, and it’s Cushing who will be forever identified with them, in effect making them immortal.
Last time, we looked at memorable Peter Cushing lines from his first performance as Baron Victor Frankenstein, in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957).
Today, we look at notable dialogue from his other signature role, the iconic vampire hunter, Dr. Van Helsing.
The second time he played Van Helsing was in the Hammer Film THE BRIDES OF DRACULA (1960) considered by many to be the best looking and most atmospheric Hammer Film ever. It’s a great movie, the only drawback being that Christopher Lee declined to return as Dracula, out of fear of being typecast (of course, he’d change his mind a few years later) and so this one’s about Van Helsing battling one of Dracula’s disciples, Baron Meinster (David Peel). Peel is decent as the main vampire here, but he’s no Christopher Lee.
Anyway, as always Peter Cushing enjoys some memorable lines of dialogue as Van Helsing in THE BRIDES OF DRACULA, screenplay by Jimmy Sangster, Peter Bryan, and Edward Percy.
When Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) confronts the Baroness Meinster (Martita Hunt), the mother of Baron Meinster, who has been turned into a vampire by her own son— interestingly enough, BRIDES was released in 1960, the same year as the most famous son/mother horror story, PSYCHO (1960)— she asks him:
BARONESS: Who is it who is not afraid?
VAN HELSING: Only God has no fear.
BARONESS: You know who I am?
VAN HELSING: I know who you were.
At one point, Van Helsing attends a funeral of a young woman killed by Baron Meinster. It’s an open casket, and so he examines the body and notices wild garlic flowers placed around the body.
VAN HELSING: Wild garlic?
INN KEEPER: It’s supposed to be a protection against evil, vampires and such. You must humor these local superstitions.
VAN HELSING: There’s usually a good reason for all these old customs. (As he shows the Inn Keeper two bite wounds on the woman’s neck.)
With the local priest, he tells the religious that he’s going to dig up the woman’s grave in order to prevent her from becoming a vampire. The priest is horrified.
PRIEST: Isn’t that sacrilege?
VAN HELSING: No, Father. It’s as I told you. An act of healing.
But one of my favorite lines from the movie comes not from Van Helsing, but from the eccentric local doctor, Doctor Tobler, played by character actor Miles Malleson, who enjoyed some memorable appearances in several of the early Hammer Films.
Van Helsing and Tobler are examining the body of a woman killed by Baron Meinster, a teacher at the all girl’s school in the village. Van Helsing doesn’t want to alarm the school administrators, and so he tells Dr. Tobler not to say anything to them about vampires.
VAN HELSING: Will you leave everything to me?
DR. TOBLER: Oh, I’ll leave everything to you. Except the fee, of course!
Thanks for joining me on THE QUOTABLE CUSHING. I hope you enjoyed these Peter Cushing lines from THE BRIDES OF DRACULA.
See you again next time.