Friday, 7 December 2007

Rasputin, The Mad Monk (1966)

Christopher Lee is best known for his portrayals of the vampire count in the many Hammer Dracula movies, but his finest moment came in a comparatively little known 1966 Hammer movie, Rasputin, The Mad Monk. This is Christopher Lee as you’ve never seen him before – it’s an extraordinarily dynamic and extravagant performance, a completely over-the-top performance. I’m not really a Christopher Lee fan, but as Rasputin he’s sensational. This is a movie that is cheerfully untroubled by historical accuracy. Lee’s Rasputin is evil, certainly, but he’s so full of life you can’t help feeling some sympathy for him. Early on he tells his superior at the monastery that he likes to commit big sins so that God will have something worthwhile to forgive him for.

The other actors are totally overshadowed by Lee, but Barbara Shelley is good as lady-in-waiting to the Czarina who is ruthlessly used by Rasputin. Director Don Sharp does a solid job and keeps the film rolling along at a good pace. Rasputin, the Mad Monk is worth seeing, in fact it’s worthy buying on DVD, just for Christopher Lee. Not a movie to take very seriously, but it delivers plenty of entertainment.

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