This is just a thing people have been tagging me with, and even though they always say “You don’t have to comment,” well, I am a writer; if I can’t comment, what’s the point? After my answers ballooned up to column-size I decided to make it a column. Both times I was tagged I tried to answer and got carried away, and finally concluded I was an idiot to give it away for nothing when it was perfectly usable in this space.
So here you go.
Actor assigned to me: Christopher Lee
Movie I love: Dracula A.D. 1972.
Really I love all the Hammer Draculas but this one just delights me. A lot of Hammer fans hate it and cite it as the one where the franchise went off the rails but I don’t care. Lee wasn’t all that thrilled with it himself, for that matter, being a bit of a Stoker purist; but he digs in.
But the thing most often cited as its weakness, the classic Dracula and Van Helsing duel set against the background of a groovy hippie devil cult, is the thing I love about it. Especially Christopher Neame as the vicious Johnny Alucard.
His showdown with Van Helsing somewhat eclipses the final confrontation with Dracula himself, if you ask me. And it never fails to put a big grin on my face that Peter Cushing is cooler, smarter, and more dangerous than Alucard and his mod hench-vampires.
Truthfully, it’s not a great “Christopher Lee” pick; it’s stolen out from under Mr. Lee by pretty much everyone else in it. But I love it, helplessly and unreservedly. I was delighted to discover Bruce Timm loves it too.
Movie I like: Oh, lots of them, really, but here’s one you may not know about.
Pirates of Blood River has Mr. Lee as a vicious pirate, LaRoche, who’s holding an entire village hostage until someone leads him to the treasure reputedly buried there. There’s a lot more to it– really, it’s just a swashbuckling good time– but that’s the short version. Here’s the trailer.
You can find it on DVD as part of this collection.
Movie I hate: Christopher Lee had a long and varied career and yeah, there were a few dogs. But the one that disappointed me the most was probably Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace.
Lee was a devout Holmesian and he clearly loved playing Sherlock, but even though he is wonderful in this, the movie is so terrible that he can’t save it. Just an incoherent mess.
Movie that’s a guilty pleasure: The Terror of the Tongs.
Casting Christopher Lee in bad Asian makeup as, basically, Fu Manchu is horribly insensitive. The movie is filled with equally horrible Yellow Peril stereotypes.
Nevertheless, I’m a pulp guy and this is about as close as we got to Sax Rohmer on screen. It’s on the same DVD collection as Blood River if you are curious.
Movie I am embarrassed I haven’t seen: Not EMBARRASSED exactly but I have to admit I haven’t seen Return of the King.
I just can’t get into Tolkien. I liked the first two movies okay, considering they are (blessedly) much faster, stripped-down versions of the books, which I’ve always found an awful slog; but I just wasn’t interested enough to see the third one. I’m sure Lee’s great in it, but… Tolkien. Not my thing. Honestly, I’ve always felt Tolkien should have quit after The Hobbit.
In a just world Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain books would have gotten the big-budget treatment instead of Tolkien, and they’d have cast Christopher Lee as Dallben the enchanter. Sadly, that’s only in my imaginary dream Hollywood; the same one where Lee got to play Ra’s Al Ghul in a seventies Batman movie. Sigh.
Actress assigned to me: Jane Seymour
Movie I love: Somewhere In Time.
Richard Matheson was a goddam national treasure and for my money this is the best adaptation of one of his books to the big screen… yes, better than Hell House and The Shrinking Man. The cast is uniformly wonderful, and Ms. Seymour really sells it as naive-but-romantic actress Elise McKenna.
Movie I like: Lassiter.
More of a Tom Selleck vehicle than a Seymour one, but I still dig it. And she has her moments.
Never understood why it didn’t do better at the box office. Here’s the trailer.
Movie I hate: Frankenstein: The True Story.
This thing is so bad that it’s not even a guilty pleasure. It’s just bad. Everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves. I saw it when I was a kid and was bitterly, bitterly disappointed because I’d just read Mary Shelley’s book, and given the title, I thought that was the story I was getting. I’m still kind of annoyed about that disappointment today.
Movie that’s a guilty pleasure: The is the one everyone probably thought would be my favorite, but… Live And Let Die has not aged well.
I still like it, but doing a Blaxploitation Bond adventure — with the shoehorning of a twenty-minute version of Smokey and the Bandit into the middle– has to be one of the weirdest notions anyone had for a Bond movie. And Miss Seymour, especially, is not served well here. Pretty much the only one not made to look like a jerk in this is Geoffrey Holder.
Movie I am embarrassed I haven’t seen: Becoming Bond. Honestly, I had no idea Jane Seymour was even in this.
I’ll get around to it one of these days, I imagine.
And there it is. Your mileage may vary. Feel free to share your own version in the comments if you got tagged with this thing in the last couple of weeks.
Back next week with something cool.