LEADING LADIES: VERONICA CARLSON

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carlson - maria

Veronica Carlson

LEADING LADIES:  Veronica Carlson

By Michael Arruda

Welcome back to LEADING LADIES, the column where we look at leading ladies in horror movies, especially from years gone by.

Today we look at the career of Veronica Carlson, the Hammer starlet who burst onto the scene in the Hammer Dracula movie, DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968) and would go on to add her beauty and elegance to several more Hammer Films before leaving the business altogether for two decades.  She returned to films in the 1990s and has since appeared in a few low budget movies.

But she’s best known for her roles in the Hammer movies, and if you’ve seen her, you know the reason why.  Sure, she was stunningly beautiful back in the day— she was a former model, after all— but she was also a decent actor.  It’s really too bad she didn’t make more movies.

In DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE Carlson plays Maria, a young woman who ends up being Dracula’s most sought after victim.  In this, the third film in the Hammer Dracula series, Dracula (Christopher Lee) seeks revenge against the Monsignor (Rupert Davies) who had exorcised his castle, and he does this by pursuing the Monsignor’s niece, Maria (Veronica Carlson).

Carlson is absolutely beautiful in this movie.  She shares most of her screen time with her goofy intellectual boyfriend Paul (Barry Andrews) who eventually gets to be the hero in this one, and she’s very convincing as a young lover infatuated with her handsome boyfriend.  She’s also sufficiently frightened and mesmerized by Dracula.

Carlson followed up this performance with the female lead in FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969), Hammer’s darkest Frankenstein movie.  She plays Anna, engaged to a young doctor Karl (Simon Ward), and all is well until these two young lovers are blackmailed by Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) into helping him with his latest creation.  This film also contains the most controversial scene in the entire series, where the Baron rapes Anna, a scene that Peter Cushing is on record as saying he did not want to do.

Anna (Veronica Carlson) tormented by Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing)

Anna (Veronica Carlson) tormented by Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) in FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969).

FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED is a lurid, brutal movie, and Veronica Carlson is up to the task at playing the tormented victim of Baron Frankenstein.  One of her best scenes finds her dragging a dead body which has been unearthed by a busted water main in her courtyard, and she has to do this while she’s pummeled by a forceful water spray, because if she doesn’t hide the body and the authorities discover it, she’ll either be arrested or worse, have to face the wrath of Baron Frankenstein.  It’s a chilling suspenseful scene.

Carlson also appeared in the next Hammer Frankenstein movie, THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN (1970), the only film in the series not to star Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein. THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN was Hammer’s failed attempt to re-boot the series with Ralph Bates playing a younger Baron Frankenstein in what amounted to be a remake of sorts of their first Frankenstein movie, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957). THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN was directed by longtime Hammer screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, and unfortunately, he proved to be a better writer than a director. THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN is the worst film in the series with very little to offer other than a fine cast, which included Ralph Bates and Veronica Carlson.  Carlson is quite good yet again, but she’s simply not enough to save this movie.

Veronica Carlson would star with Peter Cushing one more time in THE GHOUL (1974), a mediocre horror movie about an attic holding a sinister secret. This one also co-starred a young John Hurt.

Carlson may return to the big screen here in 2015.  She’s listed in the credits of a still unreleased horror movie called THE RECTORY.  It would be nice to see her on the big screen again, even now at 70 years old.

Here’s a partial list of Carlson’s 21screen credits, concentrating mostly on her horror films:

SMASHING TIME (1967) – Movie Actress At Premiere- Carlson’s first screen credit, a bit part in a musical comedy starring Michael York and Lynn Redgrave.

DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968) – Maria- Carlson impresses in her first starring role in this third Christopher Lee Hammer Dracula movie, the studio’s most profitable horror movie ever.  A box office smash.

FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969) – Anna – tormented and terrorized by Peter Cushing’s evil Baron Frankenstein.  Probably Carlson’s most riveting performance.

CROSSPLOT (1969) – Dinah- small role in this thriller starring Roger Moore which also features Moore’s future Bond boss “M” Bernard Lee as well as Hammer supporting actor Francis Matthews.

PUSSYCAT, PUSSYCAT, I LOVE YOU (1970) – Liz – comedy starring Ian McShane with a screenplay co-written by Woody Allen.

THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN (1970) – Elizabeth Heiss – stars in her second Frankenstein film for Hammer, the only one without Peter Cushing.  Ralph Bates is OK as the devilish Baron Frankenstein, but Darth Vader himself David Prowse plays a pretty ineffective monster.

OLD DRACULA (1974) – Ritva – awful horror comedy starring David Niven as Count Dracula, released the same year as Mel Brooks’ YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, no doubt trying to cash in on that film’s success.  Also stars fellow Hammer actress Linda Hayden and Carlson’s FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED co-star Freddie Jones.

THE GHOUL (1975) – Daphne – Mediocre horror film starring Peter Cushing as a man with a sinister secret.  Also stars John Hurt.  Carlson’s last film appearance for 19 years.

BLACK EASTER (1994) – Veronica Carlson returns to horror movies in this B movie terror tale.

FREAKSHOW (1995) – Grace Harmsworth – Carlson in another B movie, this one an anthology, also starring Leatherface himself Gunnar Hansen from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974).  Reportedly Carlson’s segment is the best.

THE RECTORY – An as-of-yet unreleased horror movie evidently in production at present with Veronica Carlson’s name in the credits.

I was fortunate enough to meet Veronica Carlson at a horror movie convention in the late 1990s.  It was one for the ages, as it was the same convention where I met Christopher Lee, Ingrid Pitt, and Michael Ripper.

Veronica Carlson will be forever remembered for her notable performances in two of Hammer’s best shockers, DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, and FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED.

Hopefully we’ll see her on the big screen again.

Veronica Carlson was born on September 18, 1944, in Yorkshire, England, UK.   At present she is 70 years old and living in the U.S. where she enjoys a successful painting career.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

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IN THE SHADOWS: THORLEY WALTERS

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Thorley Walters as Ludwig in DRACULA - PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966)

Thorley Walters as Ludwig in DRACULA – PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966)

In The Shadows: THORLEY WALTERS

By Michael Arruda

Welcome to another edition of In The Shadows, the column where we honor character actors from the movies, especially horror movies. Earlier in this column we looked at the careers of Lionel Atwill, Dwight Frye, and Hammer favorite Michael Ripper.

Today we look at another character actor from Hammer Films, Thorley Walters. If you’ve seen your share of Hammer Films, chances are you’ve seen Thorley Walters.

Walters usually played a pompous stuffy type, a bumbling buffoon, or a mixture of the two. Some standout roles include his performance as Ludwig in DRACULA- PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966), in which he played a character very similar to Renfield from Bram Stoker’s novel. Ludwig is a man who had once visited Castle Dracula and had left the castle somewhat insane and still under Dracula’s influence.

When the young couple fleeing Dracula (Christopher Lee) takes shelter with Father Sandor (Andrew Keir) at his monastery, where Ludwig is also staying, it’s Ludwig who invites Dracula inside.

Walters was also memorable as the snuff sniffing Police Inspector hot on the trail of Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) in FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969). He chases Frankenstein throughout the entire movie but never quite catches him.

Walters’ most memorable performance however, and my personal favorite, came in the previous Hammer Frankenstein movie, FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN (1969). In this film, Walters played Baron Frankenstein’s bumbling but loyal assistant, Doctor Hertz. The way Cushing and Walters interact in this film is priceless, and their camaraderie here is reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. In the entire Hammer Frankenstein series, Walters’ Hertz is probably the best of Victor Frankenstein’s assistants. He’s certainly the most likable.

I’ve always wished Walters had reprised the role. I would have enjoyed seeing more tales of Baron Frankenstein with Doctor Hertz by his side.

Walters enjoyed a long film career, appearing in films from the 1930s all the way up until his death in 1991.

Here’s a partial list of Thorley Walters’ 139 acting credits, concentrating mostly on his Hammer Film and other genre appearances:

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1962) – Lattimer – Assistant to Michael Gough’s insanely annoying Lord Ambrose d’Arcy, the true villain in this Hammer Phantom film starring Herbert Lom as the Phantom. Walters gets to roll his eyes and shake his head at Gough’s infuriating antics.

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE DEADLY NECKLACE (1962) – Dr. Watson-
Plays Dr. Watson to Christopher Lee’s Sherlock Holmes in this French, Italian, and German production directed by Hammer A-list director Terence Fisher. A muddled production. Both Lee’s and Walter’s voices are dubbed by other actors!

THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING (1964) – Edgar Otis – A science fiction horror film by director Terence Fisher.

DRACULA- PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966) – Ludwig – Memorable role as Renfield-type character in this sequel to HORROR OF DRACULA (1958), again directed by Terence Fisher. With Christopher Lee, of course, as Dracula.

THE PSYCHOPATH (1966) – Martin Roth – Walters appears here in a horror movie not directed by Terence Fisher, but by Freddie Francis with a script by Robert Bloch in this Amicus production.

THE AVENGERS – TV series- Episode: “What The Butler Saw” (July 28, 1966) – Hubert Hemming.

FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN (1967) – Doctor Hertz – My personal favorite Thorley Walters role. His Doctor Hertz is such a likeable character, and Walters and Peter Cushing work so well together it’s too bad this was the only pairing of these two characters. The best of Baron Frankenstein’s assistants in the Hammer Frankenstein series.

FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969)- Inspector Frisch – As Inspector Frisch, Thorley Walters chases Peter Cushing’s evil Baron Frankenstein across the countryside because in this flick Frankenstein must be destroyed.

THE MAN WHO HAUNTED HIMSELF (1970) – Frank Bellamy – Thriller starring Roger Moore.

TROG (1970) – Magistrate – Classic horror flick from the 1970s starring Joan Crawford, Michael Gough, and an ape man. Directed by Freddie Francis. Sadly, Crawford’s last film.

THERE’S A GIRL IN MY SOUP (1970) – Manager of Carlton Hotel – Silly comedy starring Peter Sellers and Goldie Hawn.

VAMPIRE CIRCUS (1972)- Burgermeister – Superior and very underrated Hammer vampire film. If you haven’t seen this one, definitely check it out.

THE ADVENTURE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES’ SMARTER BROTHER (1975) – Dr. Watson – Again plays Dr. Watson, this time to Douglas Wilmer’s Sherlock Holmes in this silly comedy starring Gene Wilder as Sherlock Holmes’ inept younger brother. Also starring Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, and Dom DeLuise, obviously trying to recapture the YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974) magic. Falls short. Written and directed by Wilder.

THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (1977) – Norfolk – Amicus’ sequel to their earlier hit THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (1975), both films starring Doug McClure. Average.

THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL (1984) – Ned Quilley – Critically acclaimed drama starring Diane Keaton.

Thorley Walters also appeared in many TV shows and miniseries.

Thorley Walters: May 12, 1913 – July 6, 1991

Thanks for reading everybody!

—Michael

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1962)

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Phantom of the Opera 1962 - posterThis is my latest IN THE SPOOKLIGHT column, on the Hammer Films version of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1962), up now in the May 2014 edition of The Horror Writers Association Newsletter.

Remember, if you enjoy this column, my IN THE SPOOKLIGHT book, a collection of 115 In The Spooklight columns, is available as an EBook at http://www.neconebooks.com, and as a print edition at https://www.createspace.com/4293038.

—Michael

 

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT

BY

MICHAEL ARRUDA

 

Hammer Films’ remake of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1962) starring Herbert Lom as the Phantom is not my favorite version of the Gaston Leroux tale. That honor goes to the Lon Chaney silent classic from 1925, followed by Universal’s elaborate and colorful remake from 1943 with Claude Rains.

And while Hammer struck gold with their Frankenstein and Dracula remakes, their version of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA was not a commercial success when it was released in 1962.

That being said, it’s not a bad film. It’s just an uneven one.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA gets off to a great start. The first half of this film is extremely well-done, and had the entire film played like the first half, Hammer would have had another classic on its hands.

The film starts with the Phantom already at large, already wreaking havoc at the opera, which is a return to how the story was told in the Lon Chaney version. In the Claude Rains remake, the emphasis was on drama and the musical numbers, not horror, and Rains’ sympathetic character doesn’t become the “phantom” until well into the movie.

Here, the menace begins immediately. There are some stylish murder scenes, showing off director Terence Fisher’s considerable talents, including a hanging body swinging onto the stage, and later, a chilling sequence involving an encounter with a rat catcher, played by Patrick Troughton. The Phantom’s first appearance is also well-done, with a very dramatic and eerie first entrance at the top of a staircase.

The music is also very effective here, with a low disturbing hum whenever the Phantom is on screen. It’s a fine score by Edwin Astley.

In this version, while the mysterious Phantom (Herbert Lom) is terrorizing the opera, he’s also keen on helping young Christine (Heather Sears) sing the lead role, but she’s shunned by the villainous and sexist producer Lord Ambrose d’Arcy (Michael Gough) who intends to sabotage her career because she refused to sleep with him. The opera’s director, the young and dashing Harry Hunter (Edward de Souza) is a much fairer man, and when he steps in to help Christine, he too is fired by Lord Ambrose.

What’s a recently unemployed opera director to do? Why, investigate the Phantom of course!

And it’s here, in the film’s second half, where it loses steam.

Whereas in the first half of the movie the Phantom appears to be a menacing and frightening figure, once Hunter begins his investigation into the Phantom’s past, a sympathetic figure emerges, and we learn that the true villain in this movie is the pompous blowhard Lord Ambrose. In fact, by the time things are all said and done, this Phantom becomes even more sympathetic than the Claude Rains’ Phantom, becoming a respectable and even heroic figure by the film’s conclusion. Sadly, this doesn’t quite work.

This particular interpretation of the Phantom makes sense when you realize who Hammer originally had in mind to portray their Phantom. With neither of their two stars, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, involved with this project, Hammer intended to turn to another even more famous star to anchor their latest production: Cary Grant.

Grant had even signed a contract with Hammer to play the Phantom, but backed out at the last minute when he wasn’t satisfied with the script, a script Anthony Hinds had written with Grant in mind for the lead role, leaving Hammer scrambling to fill the part, which they did when they hired Herbert Lom. But the film was intended to be a vehicle for Cary Grant, which explains the more heroic interpretation of the Phantom.

Herbert Lom is an OK Phantom, although he doesn’t come close to Lon Chaney or Claude Rains. He fares better early in the film where he’s seen fleetingly in scenes that seem to be setting up the Phantom to be like Lon Chaney’s violent psychotic interpretation, but unfortunately, this doesn’t turn out to be the case.

The rest of the cast runs hot and cold. Heather Sears is rather dull as Christine, and while Edward de Souza fares slightly better as the gallant Harry Hunter, at the end of the day, he’s a rather uninteresting character as well.

Only Michael Gough stands out as the vile Lord Ambrose. It’s nothing we haven’t seen Gough do before, but he’s very good at this sort of thing.

The film does have a nice cast of supporting actors who probably do a better job in this movie than the film’s leads. You have Thorley Walters as Lattimer, Lord Ambrose’s assistant, who is forced to bite his tongue at Ambrose’s constant shenanigans. Patrick Troughton is a rat catcher, and appears in one of the movie’s scariest segments, and Hammer favorites Harold Goodwin [FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969)], Miles Malleson, and Michael Ripper are also on hand, with Malleson and Ripper each playing a cabbie.

Roy Ashton’s Phantom make-up is disappointing to say the least. It’s as tepid as it gets, and it’s even less chilling than the make-up on Claude Rains. And just like in the Rains’ version, we don’t see the Phantom’s face until the very end, and all too briefly. Blink and you’ll miss it.

Unlike the Chaney film where we see the Phantom’s face throughout, and the famous unmasking scene happens in the middle of the movie, not the end, the unmasking doesn’t happen here until the final scene, as it does in the Rains version, which in both cases is too little too late.

The Phantom’s mask in this Hammer version is actually pretty decent. I’ve always preferred the mask in the Claude Rains’ movie, but my reason for this preference is how it’s used in the film, rather than the actual mask. It’s just a white mask, but it’s the defining characteristic of Rains’ Phantom, and is used to such effect that it’s one of the most memorable parts of that movie. The mask that Herbert Lom wears, by contrast, is actually a bit more sinister looking, but it’s not used as effectively as the mask in the Rains’ film.

The movie also ends way too abruptly. The story should have gone on beyond the unmasking of the Phantom, with perhaps a final act where the Phantom, upon seeing Christine nearly killed on stage, snaps, whisking her off to the “safety” of his underground lair.

Terence Fisher, Hammer’s top director, was largely blamed by the studio when the film flopped, which is too bad, because it really isn’t his fault. The film’s script is the problem, not Fisher’s direction, which, during the first half of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is on par with his finest work. In fact, the first half of this movie ranks with Hammer’s best horror. Unfortunately the movie doesn’t sustain this high quality through to the end.

Hammer’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA scores below the two versions of the Phantom story which came before it, but taken as a whole all these years later, it remains better than any rendition made since.

—END—

 

 

THE QUOTABLE CUSHING: NIGHT CREATURES (1962)

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Peter Cushing as Dr. Blyss/aka Captain Clegg in NIGHT CREATURES (1962)

Peter Cushing as Dr. Blyss/aka Captain Clegg in NIGHT CREATURES (1962)

THE QUOTABLE CUSHING:  NIGHT CREATURES (1962)

By

Michael Arruda

 

Welcome to another edition of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING, that column where we look at and celebrate Peter Cushing’s best lines in the movies.  Today we look at one of my favorite Peter Cushing movies, the hardly heard of and extremely underrated Hammer Film NIGHT CREATURES (1962).

 

NIGHT CREATURES was one of Hammer’s forays into the pirate movie genre, and yes, they made several movies about pirates.  At the time, NIGHT CREATURES was most notable for its competition with a Walt Disney production of the same story.  As you would expect, the Disney version, DR. SYN, ALIAS THE SCARECROW (1963), starring Patrick McGoohan in the lead role, dominated at the time and was a hit back in the early 1960s when it aired in three installments on the Disney TV program Wonderful World of Color in 1964.  It was later was re-edited into a feature length film.

 

What this meant for HAMMER, was that for years NIGHT CREATURES was lost in the shuffle and remained largely an unwatched film, which is too bad, because it’s one of Hammer’s best.  It was never released on VHS in the United States. It is available now on DVD.

 

In NIGHT CREATURES, Peter Cushing plays Dr. Blyss, aka Captain Clegg, a reformed pirate who is now posing as a parson, while still involved in illegal rum smuggling in the town of Dymchurch.  But he is very much reformed, as he prohibits his men from using violence, and like Robin Hood, he uses the money earned from the rum smuggling to help the poor and hungry. 

 

Things grow complicated when Captain Collier (Patrick Allen), the man who had chased Captain Clegg over the high seas, arrives in Dymchurch with a company of soldiers to investigate reports of drug smuggling.

 

In the Disney version, the main character Dr. Syn disguised himself as a scarecrow, hence Disney’s title.  In NIGHT CREATURES, it’s Dr. Blyss’ young associate Harry Crabtree (Oliver Reed) who dons the guise of a scarecrow to serve as a lookout.

 

Here’s a look at some fun quotes from NIGHT CREATURES, screenplay by Anthony Hinds and Barbara S. Harper, based on the novel Dr. Syn by Russell Thorndike: 

 

 

When Captain Collier (Patrick Allen) first meets Dr. Blyss (Peter Cushing) he doesn’t recognize him as Captain Clegg, since he’s dressed as a parson and it’s likely the captain never set eyes on the pirate while chasing him.  Plus, Captain Clegg is reportedly dead.

 

Collier is looking for a place for his men to stay the night, but Blyss has no intention of helping out.  He wants Collier to march his men back to their ship for the night so he can deliver the rum shipment without impediment.  The dialogue throughout the film between Blyss and Collier is some of the most lively and most memorable in the film.  Let’s listen:

 

DR. BLYSS:  Ah, Captain, admiring our little church?  And you’ve removed your hat I see.  Are you no longer in the service of the king?

 

CAPTAIN:  I came to find the Squire.  But I’m also looking for quarters for my men, Parson. 

 

DR. BLYSS (looking at the interior of his church):  Not in here, I hope.

 

CAPTAIN (smiling): No.  But you’ll know the most suitable places.

 

DR. BLYSS:  Ah, yes.  Have you tried the inn?

 

CAPTAIN:  Oh come now, Parson, there’s only one room in the inn.

 

DR. BLYSS:  And you’ve taken that I expect.  Well, it’s hardly big enough for all of you, is it?  Let me see now.  There’s Mrs. Wagstaft, but no, she’s just had another, hasn’t she?  Her thirteenth I think it is.  That would be a little crowded, wouldn’t it?  And a little noisy too I expect!  (laughs) Would you mind just holding that?  (hands Captain his prayer booke so he can put on his gloves.) Dr. Pepper has a spare room.  But he’s been attending some rather nasty cases of the plague recently so I couldn’t really recommend there. 

 

No.  No, I’m afraid the inn is about all we can offer.  Thank you.  (takes back book)  Really I think the best thing you can do is to march your men back to the ship just for tonight and then march them back again here tomorrow.

 

CAPTAIN:  We’re staying the night in Dymchurch.

 

DR. BLYSS:  Are you?  (with a curious grin) I wonder where?

 

 

 

Earlier Dr. Blyss has to deal with one of his most unreliable men, Mr. Rash (Martin Benson).  Hammer favorite Michael Ripper also appears in this scene, as he enjoys one of his best roles in this one, as Dr. Blyss’ right hand man, the coffin maker, Mr. Mipps.  In this scene, Rash panics over the presence of Captain Collier and his men, and he orders his fellow smugglers to destroy the rum, but Dr. Blyss arrives and is none too happy with Rash’s behavior here.

 

RASH (ordering the disposal of the rum):  Get rid of it!

 

DR. BLYSS:  Mr. Rash!  Since when have you given orders?

 

RASH: Well, I thought with all them fellas snooping ar—.

 

DR. BLYSS:  There’s no need for you to think.  I think for all of you.  Is that clearly understood? 

 

RASH:  As you say.

 

DR. BLYSS:  Exactly.  As I say.  The goods will be delivered tonight in the usual way, at midnight. 

 

MAN:  What about the revenue men?

 

DR. BLYSS:  There’s a chance they’ll be gone by then.

 

RASH:  Well suppose they’re not gone?  I don’t like it! 

 

DR. BLYSS:  I am not interested in whether you like it or not, Mr. Rash!  Just as long as you do as I tell you.  You’ve been in this trade long enough to know we all have to take risks. 

 

RASH (to Mipps):  It’s been all right for him.  He’s done very nicely out of it all these years.

 

MIPPS:  Yes, very nicely.  He’s taken all of his fair share and squandered it on food for those who were hungry and clothes for them that didn’t have any.

 

DR. BLYSS:  All right, Mr. Mipps.  Now listen.  I want the word spread that the king’s men are not to be offered accommodation in the village.  There is to be no room for them anywhere.

 

GROUP:  Aye.

 

DR. BLYSS:  And remember:  there’s to be no violence, either.  Mr. Rash! 

 

RASH:  I heard you.

 

DR. BLYSS:  Then say so!  Midnight then.

 

 

Captain Collier arrives in Dymchurch upon the tip of a man named Tom Ketch.  The film opens with Ketch’s death, a victim of “the Marsh Phantoms.”  In this scene, Captain Collier asks Mr. Mipps to take him to Ketch.  The Captain doesn’t know Ketch is dead, and Mipps for his own amusement leads the Captain to believe that the man is still alive.

 

This scene is a great showcase for Michael Ripper’s acting abilities, as he gets to enjoy some great lines as Mr. Mipps here:

 

MIPPS:  But Captain, you came here to see Tom Ketch, didn’t you?  (calls) Tom?

 

(They walk across the room  and in a dramatic revelation, Mipps shows the Captain Tom Ketch’s dead body.)

 

MIPPS:  Came in this morning.  I haven’t had time to touch him up yet.

 

CAPTAIN COLLIER:  He was alive last night.  How did he die?

 

MIPPS:  He was found floating in one of the ponds on the marshes.  The Squire found him this morning when he was out riding, the Squire—.

 

CAPTAIN (angrily): How did he die, man?

 

MIPPS:  Dr. Pepper signed the certificate, natural causes, but I should have thought from the look of the poor fellow that he died of fright.  Now, that’s more like unnatural causes.

 

CAPTAIN:  Frightened to death? What by?

 

MIPPS:  Well, he didn’t tell us of course, being dead, but I think it was the Marsh Phantoms.

 

CAPTAIN:  The what?

 

MIPPS:  The Marsh Phantoms.  People around here don’t believe in them, say they don’t exist, but that’s during the day time of course.  At night if you ask them to go for a walk across the marshes you’ll find that they have something very much more important to do like bolting the door and going to bed.

 

CAPTAIN:  Old wives’ tales.  You said the Squire discovered the body?

 

MIPPS:  Yes. 

 

CAPTAIN:  Where do I find him?

 

MIPPS:  He’ll probably be at the church saying his prayers.  Shall I take you to him?

 

CAPTAIN:  No, I’ll find it.

 

MIPPS:  As you wish.

 

(Exits)

 

MIPPS (To Ketch’s corpse):  Thanks, matey!

 

 

 

 

I’d also like to give a shout out to Patrick Allen who is absolutely spot-on as Captain Collier.  He’s right up there with Peter Cushing and Michael Ripper in this one, in terms of acting.

 

In this scene, Collier thinks he has found his scarecrow, and he thinks it’s Dr. Blyss. The night before, his men shot at a scarecrow that moved, wounding it in the arm, but when they reached the spot where the scarecrow had been, the figure was gone.  They did find blood, however.

 

The next morning, in Dr. Blyss’ home, Collier discovers muddy boots, and he thinks he has found his man.  He intends to prove it:

 

CAPTAIN:  Did you sleep well last night?

 

DR. BLYSS:  Why, exceptionally well.  And you?  Oh, no, you were out looking for the phantoms, weren’t you?  Of course!  Don’t tell me you’ve only just returned?

 

CAPTAIN:  Yes.

 

DR. BLYSS:  Dear me, you must have walked a long way.  Did you have any luck?

 

CAPTAIN:  Yes, and no.

 

DR. BLYSS:  That’s comprehensive, anyway.  (pouring coffee)  Cream?  What did you find?

 

(Captain shows him boots he just found in hall)

 

CAPTAIN:  A scarecrow that bled.  (grabs Blyss’ arm.  Blyss flinches.  Rolls up Blyss’ sleeve but does not see the expected bullet wound)  Why did you flinch when I touched your arm?

 

DR. BLYSS:  It wasn’t my arm, Captain.  You trod on my foot.

 

 

Great line. 

 

If you’ve never seen NIGHT CREATURES, you’re missing quite a treat.  It’s one of Hammer’s best movies.

 

Thanks for joining me today on THE QUOTABLE CUSHING.  I’ll see you next time on another edition of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING when we look at more fun quotes from another memorable Peter Cushing movie.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

—Michael

 

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT: DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968)

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Dracula Has Risen From The Grave - posterThis reprint of a column which originally ran in the HWA Newsletter in February 2008 on the third Christopher Lee Hammer Dracula flick, DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968) is up now in the current February 2014 edition of the HWA Newsletter.

And don’t forget, my book IN THE SPOOKLIGHT, a collection of 115 horror movie columns, is available from NECON EBooks as an EBook at www.neconebooks.com, and as a print edition at https://www.createspace.com/4293038.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

 

 

  IN THE SPOOKLIGHT

BY

MICHAEL ARRUDA

 

            Have you heard the news? 

            Dracula Has Risen From the Grave.

            I love that title.

            DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968), Hammer Films’ third entry in their famous Dracula series, was so successful at the box office, it sent Hammer on a crazed vampire movie spree between 1968 -1973 where they made an unprecedented 11 vampire films in five years, including four more Dracula films with Christopher Lee, three vampire movies with Peter Cushing, including TWINS OF EVIL (1971) and THE LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES (1973), and four without either star, including the very popular CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER (1973).

            Vampires never had it so good.

            DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE is a revenge tale, as most of the Hammer Draculas were.  Seems Drac had nothing better to do than get back at people.  You’d think that a guy who was immortal— well, anyway.  A monsignor (Rupert Davies) and a village priest (Ewan Hooper) attempt to stamp out the evil of Count Dracula once and for all by reading a prayer of exorcism and sealing the castle door with a cross.  The cowardly village priest flees in fright but slips and falls, smashing his head on some ice.  Underneath this ice rests Dracula (Christopher Lee), frozen there since the end of the previous installment in the series, DRACULA- PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966).  Blood seeps through the ice onto Dracula’s lips, reviving him, and presto!  The count has risen from his icy grave!

            Dracula makes the priest his slave and vows revenge against the monsignor for placing the cross on his castle door.  Of course, one wonders why Dracula just doesn’t order his new slave to take down the cross himself.  It would have saved him a heck of a lot of trouble!

            Lucky for Dracula, the monsignor has a beautiful niece, Maria (Veronica Carlson) and so the Count gets to throw in a few hickeys as part of his revenge plot.  It’s up to the monsignor and Maria’s atheist boyfriend Paul (Barry Andrews) to save the day. 

            DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE actually has a better than average script, so screenwriter John Elder deserves credit for penning a very enjoyable story, with very likeable characters.

            Director Freddie Francis scores well here.  It may be his best directing effort for Hammer.  He crafts several exciting scenes, including not one but two rooftop chases, and an extremely memorable “stake in the heart” sequence in which Dracula actually rips the stake from his own heart. I told you it was memorable.

            The performances are all first-rate.  Character actor Michael Ripper delivers one of his best performances, as Max, the baker and tavern owner.  Say what you want about Christopher Lee, today famous more for his longevity than for his acting ability, but he makes a terrific Dracula.  You cannot take that away from him, and with another actor in the role, the Hammer Dracula films just wouldn’t have been as good.  Lee captures the essence of undead evil in a way that causes you to remember his performance long after you’ve seen it.

            DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE also boasts amazing sets.  They look like they’re from a major Hollywood studio. 

            DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE is a keeper, a natural crowd pleaser. 

From its opening moments with a bloody corpse stuffed inside a church bell, to its bloody finale outside Castle Dracula, it won’t let you down. 

            But a word of warning- this winter, watch your step on the ice.  Should you slip and fall, you-know-who might be resting underneath.

—END—

 

In The Shadows: MICHAEL RIPPER

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Michael Ripper as coffin maker Jeremiah Mipps in NIGHT CREATURES (1962).

Michael Ripper as coffin maker Jeremiah Mipps in NIGHT CREATURES (1962).

In The Shadows:  MICHAEL RIPPER

 

By Michael Arruda

 

 

Character actors add so much to the movies they’re in, it’s hard to imagine these movies without them.  Never receiving the praise heaped upon the major actors and stars of the genre, these folks nonetheless are often every bit as effective as the big name leads.

 

One of my favorite character actors from Hammer Films is Michael Ripper.  Ripper appeared in many Hammer Films over the years, so much so that if you watch enough of these movies, he becomes a very familiar face.

 

I was fortunate enough to meet Michael Ripper in 1998 at a convention, two years before he died, and I remember the look of joy and wonder on his face as he was greeted by so many adoring fans.  It was almost as if he couldn’t believe the outpouring of affection he was receiving.

 

My favorite Michael Ripper role was Max the tavern owner in DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968).  His Max is a happy-go-lucky guy you could easily see yourself having a drink with, and he helps to lighten the mood in this third Christopher Lee Dracula movie.  It’s one of Ripper’s largest roles.

 

A close second is his portrayal of the former pirate/smuggler turned coffin maker Jeremiah Mipps in the Peter Cushing movie NIGHT CREATURES (1962).  In this film, he’s the loyal right hand man to Cushing’s Captain Clegg.  It’s one of Ripper’s more dramatic performances.

 

Here’s a partial list of Ripper’s amazing 220 movie credits, focusing mainly on his Hammer Film appearances:

 

X-THE UNKNOWN (1956) – Sgt. Harry Grimsdyke

 

QUATERMASS II:  ENEMY FROM SPACE (1957) – Ernie

 

THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958) – with Peter Cushing-  Kurt, the grave robber

 

THE MUMMY (1959)- with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee –  Poacher

 

THE BRIDES OF DRACULA (1960) – with Peter Cushing-  Coach Driver

 

THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF (1961) – with Oliver Reed –  Village Drunk

 

NIGHT CREATURES (1962) – with Peter Cushing and Oliver Reed-   Jeremiah Mipps

 

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1962) – with Herbert Lom-   Cabbie

 

THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1964) – Achmed

 

THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES (1966) – Sgt. Jack Swift

 

THE REPTILE (1966) – Tom Bailey

 

THE MUMMY’S SHROUD (1967) – Longbarrow

 

TORTURE GARDEN (1967) – with Peter Cushing, Jack Palance, and Burgess Meredith-   Gordon Roberts

 

THE LOST CONTINENT (1968) – Sea Lawyer

 

DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968) – with Christopher Lee-  Max

 

TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA (1969) – with Christopher Lee-   Inspector  Cobb

 

SCARS OF DRACULA (1970) – with Christopher Lee-   Landlord

 

THE CREEPING FLESH (1973) – with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee-   Carter

 

LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF (1975) – with Peter Cushing-   Sewer man

 

 

Michael Ripper provided many memorable movie moments in a career that spanned seven decades, from the 1930s through the 1990s.  I will always remember him from his roles in the Hammer Films of the 1950s-70s, although he appeared in many more movies than just the horror movie credits listed here.

 

Michael Ripper: January 27, 1913 – June 28, 2000.

 

Thanks for reading everyone!

 

—Michael