Christopher Lee – Fangs for the Memory

I’m writing this on Christopher Lee’s 68th birthday, May 27th, and I’m trying to find words to sum up the career of a man who has appeared in more films than almost any other actor. Not all of these have been good perhaps, but even in the dullest of these (who mentioned ‘Night of the Big Heat’?) he is always worth watching. He’s a highly versatile actor, capable of playing everything from the Mummy to Sherlock Holmes, via Shakespeare – ‘Hamlet’ (1948) won an Oscar, and was his first film with Peter Cushing.

He is undoubtedly best known for his performances as Dracula, his height (6 ft. 4″) lending him an air of authority few, if any, other actors have been able to bring to the role. In addition to the Hammer versions, beginning with ‘Dracula’ (1958) and generally going downhill in quality until the abysmal ‘Dracula AD 1972’, he also appeared in other vampire films, though these were usually feeble spoofs. He was ‘misled’ into appearing in ‘El Conde Dracula’ by promises it would be the definitive telling of Stoker’s tale – since it was directed by Jess Franco, it will not surprise readers to learn this is not how it turned out…

Outside the horror genre, his appearances have been almost as numerous, especially in more recent years. He was Scaramanga in ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’, and is also well known for his appearances in ‘The Three Musketeers’ and it’s two sequels. At other times, he has played Dr Jekyll, Rasputin & Fu Manchu, but for me his most memorable role was as Lord Summerisle in ‘The Wicker Man’ (1973), which in my opinion is the best non-Hammer British horror film ever made.

In recent years his appearances have become slightly less numerous, leaving him free to pursue his other interests – he is a keen golfer, possessing a low handicap, and is also very fond of cricket. However, he can shortly be seen in ‘Gremlins II’, which means the man will be in the (unique?) position of having starred in films with three of your editor’s idols; Nastassja Kinski (‘To the Devil a Daughter’), Sybil Danning (‘The Howling II’) and now Phoebe Cates.

His latest film, as yet unreleased here, is called ‘The Rainbow Thief’, with Michael Caine. During the filming, it was reported that Lee was called to do a scene where he has a heart attack while bonking some beauty. Lee wanted it changed, in deference to his age, and settled for being tickled into a seizure by eight topless bimbos! Some people have all the luck…


So you thought Sybil Danning was busy? I lost count of the following list when it went into three figures; all corrections, additions and amendments would be gratefully received, though note that only commonly encountered alternative titles are included:

  • 1947 – Corridor of Mirrors
  • 1948 – Hamlet
  • 1949 – They Were Not Divided
  • 1950 – Prelude of Fame
  • 1951 – Valley of the Eagles
  • 1952 – The Crimson Pirate
  • 1953 – Moulin Rouge
  • 1954 – Dark Avenger a.k.a. The Warriors
  • 1955 – Private’s Progress
  • 1956 – Alias John Preston
    Moby Dick
    Ill Met by Moonlight a.k.a. Night Ambush
    The Battle of the River Plate a.k.a. Pursuit of the Graf Spee
  • 1957 – The Traitor
    The Curse of Frankenstein
    Corridors of Blood a.k.a. Doctor from Seven Dials
  • 1958 – Dracula a.k.a. Horror of Dracula
  • 1959 – A Tale of Two Cities
    The Man Who Could Cheat Death
    The Mummy
    Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll
  • 1960 – Beat Girl
    City of the Dead
    Taste of Fear a.k.a. Scream of Fear
  • 1961 – Hercules in the Haunted Kingdom a.k.a. Hercules in the Centre of the Earth
  • 1962 – Hands of Orlac a.k.a. Hands of a Strangler
    The Terror Tongs a.k.a. The Terror of the Tongs
    Uncle Was a Vampire
    Sherlock Holmes & the Deadly Necklace
    The Longest Day
    Pirates of Blood River
    Puzzle of the Red Orchid a.k.a. Secret of the Red Orchid
    Devil’s Daffodil a.k.a. Daffodil Killer
  • 1963 – Terror Castle a.k.a. Virgin of Nuremberg
    What a.k.a. Night is the Phantom
    Devil’s Ship Pirates
    Castle of the Living Dead
  • 1964 – The Gorgon
  • 1965 – Dracula, Prince of Darkness
    Rasputin, the Mad Monk
    Dr. Terror’s House of Horror
    The Skull
    Face of Fu Manchu
  • 1966 – Brides of Fu Manchu
  • 1967 – Vengeance of Fu Manchu
    Theatre of Death
    Circus of Fear a.k.a. Psycho Circus
    Night of the Big Heat a.k.a. Island of the Burning Damned
    The Devil Rides Out a.k.a. The Devil’s Bride
    Five Golden Dragons
    The Torture Chamber of Dr Sadism
    Curse of the Crimson Altar a.k.a. The Reincarnation a.k.a. about five other titles!
  • 1968 – Eve
    The Oblong Box
    Dracula Has Risen From the Grave
    Blood of Fu Manchu a.k.a. Kiss and Tell
  • 1969 – Castle of Fu Manchu a.k.a. Torture Chamber of Fu Manchu
    Assignment: Istanbul
    Taste the Blood of Dracula
    Night of the Blood Beast a.k.a. Throne of the Blood Monster
    The Magic Christian
    One More Time
  • 1970 – Eugenie: The Story of Her Journey Into Perversion a.k.a. Sade 70
    El Conde Dracula a.k.a. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
    The Scars of Dracula
    Scream & Scream Again
    The House That Dripped Blood
    Julius Caesar
    The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
  • 1971 – I, Monster
  • 1972 – Dracula AD 1972 a.k.a. Dracula Today
    Hannie Calder
    Dark Places
    Poor Devil (TVM)
  • 1973 – The Satanic Rites of Dracula a.k.a. Count Dracula & His Vampire Bride
    Panic on the Trans-Siberian Express a.k.a. Horror Express
    Creeping Flesh
    Nothing But The Night
    Deathline a.k.a. Raw Meat
    The Wicker Man
  • 1974 – The Three Musketeers
    The Man with the Golden Gun
  • 1975 – Tendre Dracula
    In Search of Dracula
    The Four Musketeers
  • 1976 – Dragon’s Murder
    Killer Force
    Mask of Murder
    To the Devil a Daughter
    Revenge of the Dead
    Dracula Pere et Fils
    Meat Cleaver Massacre
    Diagnosis: Murder
  • 1977 – Airport ’77
    Starship Invasion a.k.a. Alien Encounter
    End of the World
  • 1978 – Return From Witch Mountain
    The Pirate
  • 1979 – The Passage
    Arabian Adventure
    Circle of Iron a.k.a. The Silent Flute
    Bear Island
    Captain America II
  • 1981 – The Salamander
    An Eye for an Eye
    Goliath Awaits (TVM)
    Jaguar Lives
  • 1982 – Safari 3000
  • 1983 – The House of the Long Shadows
    Whispering Death
    The Return of Captain Invincible a.k.a. The Legend in Leotards
  • 1984 – Rosebud Hotel
    The Howling II
  • 1988 – Murder Story
  • 1989 – The Return of the Three Musketeers
  • 1990 – Treasure Island
    Gremlins II
    The Rainbow Thief