Monday, March 25, 2013


Continuing to plough through the recent spate of Hammer BluRays, this morning it was a double-bill of Rasputin - The Mad Monk and The Reptile. Since these two 1966 productions were released on the same bill in many markets, it made sense to watch them together.

The Reptile is the lesser of the two Cornwall set horror flicks filmed back-to-back by director John Gilling (the other being the much more satisfying Plague of the Zombies). Essentially a female take on the werewolf mythos, The Reptile has a decent plot and performances, and an interesting choice in male lead with ruddy-faced Australian Ray Barrett, but it is let down by the appearance of the title (she) creature, which is brilliant in design but sadly lacking in the execution, with Roy Ashton’s budget-restricted make-up effects not up to his usual high standard.

Much more successful is Rasputin - The Mad Monk, which has a more classically grand, epic feel, is quite mature in its nature and features another great, commanding performance by Christopher Lee in the title role, bringing his Count Dracula charisma and vibe to the sexually-charged Russian madman. Barbara Shelley is also wonderful in the role of Sonia, the Tsarina’s lady-in-waiting who falls under the spell of Rasputin (and commits a wicked act in his name which is still shocking nearly fifty years later).

As with the other releases, the BluRays of The Reptile and Rasputin have a great selection of nice extras - including making-off featurettes and, in the case of Rasputin, a cool little documentary on the vintage Hammer paperback novelisation tie-ins.

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