THE QUOTABLE CUSHING: HORROR EXPRESS (1972)

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Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee team up to hunt down an alien monster loose on a train in HORROR EXPRESS (1972)

Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee team up to hunt down an alien monster in HORROR EXPRESS (1972)

THE QUOTABLE CUSHING:  HORROR EXPRESS (1972)

By

Michael Arruda

 

Welcome to another edition of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING, that column where we look at memorable quotes from classic Peter Cushing movies.  This column exists because I’m a lifelong Peter Cushing fan, and his movie performances are a major reason why I entered the horror writing business.  This column is a celebration of sorts of some of the highlights of Peter Cushing’s career.

 

Today on THE QUOTABLE CUSHING, we look at quotes from one of my favorite non-Hammer Peter Cushing movies, HORROR EXPRESS (1972).  The majority of my favorite Peter Cushing films were all made by England’s famed Hammer Studios, but HORROR EXPRESS was not.

 

HORROR EXPRESS tells a neat story about an alien creature on the loose on a Trans-Siberian train, and it’s up to Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee to stop it.  HORROR EXPRESS is notable because it’s one of the few times in the movies that Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee played characters who end up working together to take on a common foe.  Usually, they’re pitted against each other, most of the time with Cushing as the hero and Lee as the villain or monster.  In this case, they play rival scientists who really don’t like each other all that much, but when the creature starts murdering people on the train, they put aside their differences and team up to stop the threat.

 

The other fun thing about this movie is that Peter Cushing gets most of the good lines.  So, let’s have a look at some of these memorable quotes from HORROR EXPRESS, screenplay by Arnaud d’Usseau and Julian Zimet.

 

The monster is loose on the Trans-Siberian Express.  At first, it appears to be an ape monster, the missing link fossil that Professor Alexander Saxton (Christopher Lee) brought on board the train, but later it’s discovered that it was really an alien inhabiting the body of the ape fossil, and this alien is able to transfer itself from one host body to another.  So, no one on board the train knows the identity of the monster, since it keeps switching bodies.

 

In this scene, the police inspector on board happens upon rival scientists Saxton and Dr. Wells (Peter Cushing) and sees that they’re working together to discover the identity of the monster.  The Inspector’s suggestion provokes a shocked reaction from Cushing’s Dr. Wells:

 

INSPECTOR:  The two of you together.  That’s fine.  But what if one of you is the monster?

 

DR. WELLS (shocked):  Monster?  We’re British, you know!

 

 

The film is full of humor like this, and most of the lighthearted lines come from Peter Cushing’s Dr. Wells.   Since HORROR EXPRESS is actually quite scary, the comic relief in the film is very welcomed. 

 

Take this line for example, which occurs after an early murder on the train.  The Inspector needs someone to examine the murder victim, and so he seeks out Dr. Wells, interrupting the doctor’s dinner.

 

INSPECTOR:  Is it true you’re a doctor?

 

DR. WELLS:  Ask me when I’ve finished my dinner.

 

 

Probably the funniest lines in the movie come a moment later, when Dr. Wells seeks out his assistant Miss Jones (Alice Reinhart) for help with the autopsy.

 

DR. WELLS:  Miss Jones, I shall need your assistance.

 

Miss Jones then glances at Dr. Wells’ dinner companion, an attractive young lady.

 

MISS JONES:  Yes, well at your age, I’m not surprised.

 

DR. WELLS (realizing what she’s talking about):  With an autopsy!

 

MISS JONES:  Oh, well that’s different.

 

 

My favorite Peter Cushing line from HORROR EXPRESS is one of the best lines in the movie.  It comes early in the film, when the police discover the dead body of the baggage man inside the crate where Professor Saxton’s fossil was supposed to be.

 

After listening to Professor Saxton’s explanation of what he believes happened, Wells has this reaction: 

 

DR. WELLS:  Are you telling me that an ape that lived two million years ago got out of that crate, killed the baggage man and put him in there, then locked everything up neat and tidy, and got away?

 

PROFESSOR SAXTON:  Yes, I am!

 

 

Well, that’s it for now.  I hope you enjoyed this edition of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING, and feel free to check out HORROR EXPRESS.  It’s a hellluva thrill ride, one of the better Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee movies.

 

Thanks for reading!  And I’ll see you next time!

 

—Michael

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HORROR OF DRACULA Restoration – The “Mina Sequence” – A Follow-up Post

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Dracula (Christopher Lee) puts the bite on Mina (Melissa Stribling) in another image from the restored "Mina" scene from HORROR OF DRACULA (1958).

Dracula (Christopher Lee) puts the bite on Mina (Melissa Stribling) in another image from the restored “Mina” scene from HORROR OF DRACULA (1958).

HORROR OF DRACULA (1958)Long lost version finally restored!

The “Mina” Sequence – Update

 

It’s come to my attention that the video in my blog post from Friday, October 18, 2013, featuring the original Japanese reels of the missing “Mina” footage from HORROR OF DRACULA, has been blocked due to copyright reasons.

 

I feared this might happen.  When I was initially putting these posts together on the newly restored HORROR OF DRACULA prints, I had come across on YouTube the original Japanese prints from which the restored version was derived.  This print was divided into three sections, and the first section had been blocked due to copyright reasons.  I figured it was only a matter of time before the other sections were blocked as well.

 

Honestly, I think it’s ridiculous and quite silly to block these things.  If the restored version of HORROR OF DRACULA was available here in the United States,— it’s not, as of yet— viewing a raw damaged print from Japan is not going to stop me from buying it.  On the contrary, the more people who see it and like it, the more people will buy it when it finally becomes available. 

 

But that’s not how these things work.  So, to the powers that be, hurry up and release the restored version here in the United States, thank you very much!  And shame on you for blocking material on the web that you have no business blocking.  Well, I suppose if you own the copyright, then it is your business, but readers, you know what I mean.  I’m just venting.

 

Anyway, in the meantime, enjoy this photo from the lost “Mina” sequence, a different one from my October 18 post.

 

And for more information about the HORROR OF DRACULA restoration story, check out my earlier posts from September 30, 2013 and October 18, 2013.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Enjoy!

 

—Michael

The Uncut HORROR OF DRACULA (1958) – The “Mina” Sequence

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The newly restored "Mina" sequence from HORROR OF DRACULA (1958)

The newly restored “Mina” sequence from HORROR OF DRACULA (1958)

HORROR OF DRACULA (1958)Long lost version finally restored!

The “Mina” Sequence

 

This is a follow-up piece to my post last month where I reported the good news that earlier this year Hammer Films finally released its restored version of HORROR OF DRACULA (1958), recovered from the long lost Japanese print. 

 

This fun event happened on March 13, 2013, when Hammer released its restored version on Blu-Ray to British audiences.  This print has not yet made its way to the United States. 

 

However, clips from this version have been posted on YouTube, and the most notable change involved the restoration of the film’s famous ending.  At long last, western audiences could finally see the uncut ending.  I posted these YouTube clips with a detailed explanation of the story behind the Japanese print on this blog back on September 30.  If you’re interested in learning about— and seeing— the uncut ending, simply check out my September 30 post.


The subject of today’s post is another scene that has been restored, and it’s from the “Mina” sequence.  Towards the end of the movie, Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) and Arthur Holmwood (Michael Gough) stand guard outside the house to protect Mina (Melissa Stribling) from Dracula (Christopher Lee).  Their efforts fail because unbeknownst to the two men, Dracula is already inside the house, his coffin hidden in the basement.  So, while they stand guard outside, Dracula easily makes his way to Mina’s bedroom. 

 

It’s this scene that now has an extra shot restored of Dracula biting Mina, captured from a different angle. It actually shows Dracula spending some extra time kissing Mina first, and this scene was cut by British sensors because it was considered too sensuous. 

 

How times change!

 

For your viewing pleasure, here is the link to the lost “Mina” sequence.   This is actually from the original Japanese reels, which is in poor condition, and you’ll have to fast forward a bit— about 10 minutes into the clip— to get to the uncut Mina sequence.

 

Enjoy!  And if it’s too sensuous for you, feel free to cover your eyes!

 

—Michael

HORROR OF DRACULA (1958) – Long Lost Version Finally Restored!

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Dracula (Christopher Lee) peels away his burning flesh in the restored ending to HORROR OF DRACULA (1958)

Dracula (Christopher Lee) peels away his burning flesh in the restored ending to HORROR OF DRACULA (1958)

This image of Dracula (Christopher Lee) in the early stages of decomposition does NOT appear in the restored version of HORROR OF DRACULA (1958).  Publicity still, perhaps?

This image of Dracula (Christopher Lee) in the early stages of decomposition does NOT appear in the restored version of HORROR OF DRACULA (1958). Publicity still, perhaps?

HORROR OF DRACULA (1958)Long lost version finally restored!

You can imagine my excitement when I learned that the uncut ending to HORROR OF DRACULA (1958), Hammer Films’ classic Dracula movie and one of the best horror movies of all time, had been restored.

Just how excited was I?  Enough to watch the sequence repeatedly on YouTube over a celebratory glass of wine.  Hmm.  What was that?  Yes, just one glass!

Thank heavens for YouTube, that’s all I can say!

Where was I?  Oh yes, I was about to tell you that Hammer Films—finally— has released its restored version of HORROR OF DRACULA, recovered from the long lost Japanese print.

In case you missed the story, in the late 1950s, Hammer Films routinely shot different versions of its films in order to satisfy different markets.  The most violent and graphic versions of their movies were made for the Far East and sent to countries like Japan.  At least that’s one explanation of the tale.  The other account I’ve read is that the graphic scenes were simply cut by censors in England and the United States, while the versions sent to Japan were allowed to be uncensored.  Either way, a separate version of the film had long been rumored to exist in Japan.

For decades, fans were tantalized by the possibility that a more graphic version of the film’s exciting finale existed in a vault somewhere in Japan, unseen by English speaking audiences.  Fans continually asked, does this footage really exist?  Or is it just a rumor?  The mystery remained unsolved.

Until now.

Thanks to the efforts of a Hammer Film fan— no, not me— living Japan, the footage was discovered.  This fan, Simon Rowson, watched the footage and wrote about it, announcing once and for all that this long rumored footage actually existed.  Eventually, he contacted Hammer and got them interested.

Hammer released a restored version on Blu-Ray to British audiences back on March 13, 2013.  This restored version has not yet made its way to the United States.  That’s where the YouTube clips come in.

Thanks to YouTube, we can see this footage now without waiting.

So, yes, I was absolutely ecstatic to finally see this restored ending, and I was not disappointed.  I’ve posted this restored sequence on my FaceBook page, as well as right here on this blog.

I also went ahead and posted another video, the original uncut reel from the Japanese version, which is heavily damaged.  It’s interesting to note that there are differences between this original Japanese reel and the restored edition reissued by Hammer Films.  I’m not sure why they didn’t restore the entire sequence.  The sequence in the damaged version is more extensive than the Hammer restoration print.  Does this mean some day there will be more restorations?

This also raises another question, which is, are there still more versions out there? For instance, neither the Hammer restored version nor the original Japanese print include the famous image of Christopher Lee’s Dracula in the early stages of decomposition, a photo  probably first revealed within the pages of the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland.  Did this scene ever exist?  Or perhaps this image was just a publicity still?

The mystery deepens.

The restored version and the Japanese prints also include other restored scenes in addition to the finale, most notably an added shot to the scene where Dracula (Christopher Lee) bites Mina (Melissa Stribling).  More on this sequence in a future post.

For Hammer Film fans, this is an exciting time, to finally be able to see absent footage that had never been viewed by English speaking audiences before.  That’s pretty cool, I must say!

Now I can only hope that someone discovers an uncut print of the original KING KONG (1933) including the famous cut spiders in the pit sequence.  I can dream, can’t I?

—Michael

THE QUOTABLE CUSHING: DRACULA A.D., 1972 (1972)

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Dracula A.D. 1972 - posterTHE QUOTABLE CUSHING

 

It’s time for another edition of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING, the column where we look at some of Peter Cushing’s most memorable lines in the movies.

Today we look at DRACULA A.D. 1972 (1972) Hammer Film’s attempt to put Dracula into a modern day setting.  Unfortunately for Hammer, “modern day” happened to be 1972.  Far out, man!

A decade later and they may have struck gold, but in 1972 DRACULA A.D. 1972 plays out like THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY MEETS DRACULA, as Dracula (Christopher Lee) tangles with a group of 70s teens who are only interested in sex, drugs, and rock and roll.  They could care less about vampires.  In fact, Dracula seems so out of place and uncomfortable in this setting that he spends his time in this movie hanging out in a desecrated church, as if he’s terrified of venturing forth into 1970s culture.

It’s an awkward mix to be sure, but it’s part of what makes this movie so much fun today.

It wasn’t fun for Hammer back in 1972, because the film was a commercial failure, but I’ve always liked this movie.  It’s always been a guilty pleasure.  I find it entertaining, and not in spite of the dated 70s characters and dialogue but because of it.  It’s all a hoot.

Now, Peter Cushing is on hand, and as always, he adds dignity to the story.  Here, he plays the grandson of the original Van Helsing, and it goes without saying, Cushing is excellent in the role.  He enjoys some memorable lines, especially in his exchanges with the Inspector (Michael Coles) from Scotland Yard, who has called in Van Helsing to assist with his investigation of some weird “cult” murders.

So let’s look at some of these lines now from DRACULA A.D., 1972, screenplay by Don Houghton.

Troubled by some very weird murders, Inspector Murray (Michael Coles) visits Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), an expert on the occult, and seeks his opinion on the crimes.  Cushing’s lines at the end of this exchange provide him with one of his best acting moments in the film.  Take a look:

VAN HELSING: Those mutilations, around the neck?

INSPECTOR: Mostly.  Does that mean something?

VAN HELSING:  It could.  It could indicate—.

INSPECTOR: What?

VAN HELSING: That the killer was trying to obliterate the real cause of death.  Vampirism.

INSPECTOR: You’re joking?

VAN HELSING: You dismiss the possibility?

INSPECTOR: I don’t know.  I’ve been a policeman too long. I don’t know.

VAN HELSING: My grandfather died fighting a vampire, the most terrible, the most dangerous vampire of all time, but before that, he collected proof, positive proof.

(INSPECTOR chuckles).

VAN HELSING:  Oh no.  There is nothing ludicrous about it.  He was a scientist.  His evidence was conclusive.  There is evil in this world.  There are dark awful things.  Occasionally we get a glimpse of them.  But there are dark corners; horrors almost impossible to imagine—even in our worst nightmares.  There is a Satan.

INSPECTOR:  Of course.  Otherwise we wouldn’t need a police force, would we?

___________

Later when it’s discovered that one of the murder victims was a friend of Van Helsing’s granddaughter Jessica (Stephanie Beacham) the Inspector questions her.  She takes offense at his probing questions about her friends, and she reacts badly, to which Van Helsing responds:

JESSICA VAN HELSING:  I wish somebody would tell me what this is all about.

VAN HELSING:  Murder, Jessica.  That’s what all this is about.  Ghastly, horrible, obscene murder!

It’s a great Cushing moment.

At the end of the film, when Van Helsing finally confronts Dracula (Christopher Lee), he shouts to the vampire:

VAN HELSING:  Count Dracula!  Look on me, Dracula.  Look on me and remember.

At this point, the film provides a flashback to the opening scene of the movie, where we see the original Van Helsing destroy Dracula back in the 19th century, in a scene shot specifically for DRACULA A.D. 1972.  It’s a pretty cool scene too, although I’ve always wished that the flashback after this line had taken us back to the original conclusion to HORROR OF DRACULA (1958).  Now, that would have been something for Dracula to remember!

Early in the movie, Van Helsing discovers his granddaughter looking through his book on the Black Mass.  He’s none too pleased that she’s treating his life’s work like a joke, but the best part of this scene is Stephanie Beacham’s dated dialogue as Jessica Van Helsing:

VAN HELSING:  A treatise on the black mass? What do you want with this?

JESSICA: Oh, just a quiet bit of mind blowing.

VAN HELSING: Jessica, this is not a subject to mess around with. These are scientific works.

JESSICA:  You can buy that sort of stuff in almost any shady bookshop in Soho. I think it’s all kinky.

VAN HELSING:   What’s that?

JESSICA:  Weird, man. Way out. I mean, spooks, hobgoblins, black magic. All that sort of stuff.

Gee, Scoobs, pass me some of those Scooby snacks, will you?

 

We’ll finish here not with a line by Cushing but by Christopher Lee.  It’s one of my favorite lines that Lee speaks in the entire Dracula series (and since he cut so many of them, there aren’t a whole lot of Dracula lines in this series!).

His descendant Johnny Alucard (Christopher Neame) has just performed a human sacrifice to resurrect his master, and he’s quite pleased with himself at this accomplishment.  But Dracula is quick to slap him down.

JOHNNY ALUCARD:  Master, I did it!  I summoned you!

DRACULA:  It was my will.

Ouch!  Take that, minion!

And that’s it for now.  Thanks for joining me for another edition of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING.  I’ll see you next time with more quotes from another classic Peter Cushing movie.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

PICTURE OF THE DAY: London Premiere of HORROR OF DRACULA (1958)

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Dracula1958PICTURE OF THE DAY

Here’s a photo I found online of the London premiere of DRACULA (HORROR OF DRACULA here in the United States) in 1958.

If I had a time machine, this is definitely one of the events I’d attend.  I’d also go to the New York City premiere, an event attended by both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee who were there signing autographs.  Ah, the good old days!

I would love to have seen the artwork and promotional materials shown in this picture in person and in color.  It reminds me of some of the old fashioned monster houses from amusement parks of yesteryear.

Yep, my heart melts with nostalgia when I look at this photo.  Anyone out there who attended this premiere in person?  Love to hear from you if you did.

In the meantime, I’ll keep seeing movies in cinema multiplexes here in the 21st century.  At least there’s still popcorn.

—Michael

THE QUOTABLE CUSHING: THE MUMMY (1959)

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Peter Cushing - THE MUMMY

Peter Cushing gets ready to face Kharis, the Mummy, in THE MUMMY (1959)

THE QUOTABLE CUSHING:  THE MUMMY (1959)

 

Welcome to another edition of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING, the column where we look at Peter Cushing’s best lines in the movies.

Today we check out some of Peter Cushing’s lines from the Hammer Film THE MUMMY (1959) in which Cushing played archeologist John Banning, and Christopher Lee played Kharis, the Mummy.

THE MUMMY was Hammer’s third film in its Universal monster movie remake triumvirate, following upon the heels of the wildly successful THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) and HORROR OF DRACULA (1958), the two films that put Hammer on the map, along with its two stars, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.  THE MUMMY is the least effective of the three movies.  Yet it’s still an enjoyable film, and Peter Cushing, as always gets to deliver some memorable lines of dialogue.

Here’s a look at a few of those lines spoken by Cushing in THE MUMMY, screenplay by Jimmy Sangster.

The movie opens in Egypt, where John Banning (Peter Cushing), his father Stephen Banning (Felix Aylmer), and his uncle Joseph Whemple (Raymond Huntley) discover the tomb of the Princess Ananka, a discovery that drives Stephen Banning mad.  Well, that’s what John and Uncle Joe believe anyway.  The truth is old Stephen loses his marbles because he comes face to face with Kharis the Mummy (Christopher Lee).

Anyway, shortly after making their discovery, John Banning and his uncle Joe prepare to seal off the tomb once again, and at this moment, John shares his uneasy feelings with his uncle.

JOHN BANNING:  Want to see the inside of the tomb for the last time?

UNCLE JOE:  The sooner you seal it up again, the happier I shall be.

JOHN BANNING: Yes, I feel the same way.  I’ve worked in dozen of tombs.  It seems the best part of my life has been spent amongst the dead.  But I’ve never worked in a place that had such an aura of— menace.  There’s something evil in there, Uncle Joe.  I felt it.

Later, John discovers his wife Isobel is the splitting image of the Princess Ananka, and he teases her about this.

JOHN BANNING:  It’s extraordinary.  I never noticed it before, but with your hair like that, you’re the image of Ananka.

ISOBEL:  Am I?

JOHN BANNING:  She was considered the most beautiful woman in the world.

ISOBEL:  Oh, I am flattered.

JOHN BANNING:  Mind you, the world wasn’t so big then.

After the Mummy murdered both Stephen Banning and Uncle Joe, Inspector Mulrooney (Eddie Byrne) interviews John Banning, and John tells the Inspector of his suspicions that the murders were committed by a Mummy.

JOHN BANNING:  All right, Inspector.  I believe the intruder was a Mummy, a living mummy.

MULROONEY:  A mummy?  One of those Egyptian things?

JOHN BANNING:  That’s right

MULROONEY:  I thought they were always dead people.

JOHN BANNING:  They usually are.  By rights this one should be dead, too.

And a bit later in the conversation:

MULROONEY:  Mr. Banning, are you trying to tell me that these two murders were committed by— by a dead man?

JOHN BANNING:  I knew you wouldn’t believe me.

MULROONEY:  You’re right, I don’t.  I find it incredible that you should even imagine such a story.  I deal in facts, Mr. Banning.  Cold hard facts.  And the facts tell me that someone broke in here, committed a murder, and then got away.  There is no doubt whoever did it killed your father, too.  This I consider a fact also.  But that’s where the facts run out.  It’s my job to dig around until I unearth some more facts.  But facts, Mr. Banning, not fantasies straight out of Edgar Allan Poe.  If you have any more ideas please let me hear them.  They make fascinating listening if nothing else!

JOHN:  There is one more.  I think I’m the next to be killed.

And in one of the movie’s best scenes, John Banning pays a surprise visit to Mehemet Bey (George Pastell), the man who is controlling the Mummy.  Banning goes out of his way to agitate Bey, to try to get him to slip up and give away his true reason for being in town.

JOHN BANNING:  The history of your country is steeped in violence.

BEY:  Indeed, it is.

JOHN BANNING:  I remember the opening of Princess Ananka’s tomb.  She was high priestess to a pagan god, Karnak.  We have reason to believe that over 100 people were put to death during her funeral rights.

BEY:  That’s probably.

JOHN BANNING:   And Karnak wasn’t a particularly important deity.  A third rate god.

BEY:  Not to those who believed in him.

JOHN BANNING:  Perhaps not.  But their standard of intelligence must have been remarkably low.

BEY:  Why do you say that?

JOHN BANNING:  He was insignificant.  He had nothing to commend him to anyone with the slightest degree of intelligence.

BEY:  But surely you’re assuming a great deal.

JOHN BANNIGN:  I don’t think so.  I made an extensive study of this so-called religion.  It’s based upon artificial creeds and beliefs, some of them ludicrous in the extreme.

BEY:  Did it ever occur to you that beneath the superficial you’ve learned about, there could be a great and passionate devotion to this god?

JOHN BANNING:  It occurred to me, but I dismissed it.

BEY:  You’re intolerant, Mr. Banning.

JOHN BANNING:  Not intolerant.  Just practical.

There you have it.  Some memorable Peter Cushing lines from THE MUMMY.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

—-Michael