Monthly Archives: August 2005

Rasputin The Mad Monk

Rasputin The Mad Monk (1966)

Director: Don Sharp
Cast: Christopher Lee (Grigori Rasputin) Barbara Shelley (Sonia) Richard Pasco (Dr. Zargo)
Legendary Horror actor Christopher Lee (Horror Of Dracula/Curse Of Frankenstein) hams it up in the title role of this entertaining, if historically inaccurate, Hammer film.

The film opens in a tavern where the owner is forced to close early due to his wife being seriously ill. Enter Rasputin demanding a drink of wine, when told of the ladies illness he storms into her bedroom and uses his mystical healing powers to cure her of her sickness. “Open your eyes, woman! You’re cured!”

In return for this miracle Rasputin only asks for a bottle of wine… and then another… and another until a full party is in swing. This is where we first see Rasputin’s dancing prowess, it would appear Lee is using a stunt double in some of his dance steps. Rasputin lures the owner’s daughter into a nearby barn where he attempts to have his wicked way with her. The girl’s jealous boyfriend hijacks the attempted fornication and a struggle results in the boy losing his hand. This leads to Rasputin being thrown out of the monastery for lurid and drunken behaviour.

Rasputin travels to St Petersburg where he meets Dr Zargo, a hard drinking disgraced doctor. He engages in a drinking competition with Zargo, which is one of the highlights of the film… that Rasputin can sure pack away the booze. It is during this drinking comp that Rasputin meets Sonia, who will soon fall for the hairy one’s charms. Rasputin sure has a way with the ladies, slapping them, throwing them to the floor, hypnotising them and forcing them to disrobe and copulate. Sonia is employed to the Czar and Czarina, and it is through the manipulation of Sonia and Dr Zargo that Rasputin befriends the Czarina. With the Czarina under his control Rasputin plans to take over Russia and destroy anyone that stands in his way. Sonia’s brother and his friend become aware of Rasputin’s evil plot and plan to assassinate the mad monk.

Christopher Lee gives one of his best performances as Rasputin, at times he seems a little over the top but more often he comes across menacing and downright evil. Lee fans will really enjoy the film and you can tell Lee is having an absolute ball playing the role, which allows him to be much more animated than his numerous wooden Dracula roles. Richard Pasco and Barbara Shelley give convincing performances as well, but it is who Lee really carries the film. The cinematography is very static and a little removed and the action is a little sparse like in most Hammer films. Rasputin was shot back-to-back with “Dracula Prince Of Darkness” and utilises the cast, costumes and sets of the film.

The version I got has bonus trailers and TV ads which offer punters a free Rasputin beard on entry to the cinema! I’m off to Ebay to search for my own.

Society (1989)

Society (1989)

Society (1989)
Director: Brian Yuzna
Starring: Billy Warlock (Bill Whitney) Connie Danese (Nan) Ben Slack (Dr. Cleveland)

Absolutely bizarre! “Society” is one of those films you don’t expect much from (it stars Billy Warlock from Baywatch, nuff said) but manages to deliver and astound the viewer. A grotesque, tasteless horror-comedy packed with mystery, gore, laughs, snappy dialogue, sex and a little sprinkling of incest, this movie is a must see for lovers of weird movies. They sure don’t make `em like this anymore.

The setting for this film is a kind of a 90210 scenario, rich kids in fancy cars, upper-class parents who own big houses, class differences in the local high school… you know the drill. Billy feels he his different from his sister, his parents and many of the kids at school and regularly sees a social worker after class. His cheer leader girlfriend (prepare yourself for one of motion picture histories most blatant “camel toes”) is obsessed with social status and being seen at all the parties, but Billy is more down to earth and is experiencing problems fitting in with both family and friends.

Weirdness begins to escalate as Billy’s sister makes her social debut. Billy’s parents and his sister seem closer than ever, constantly giving each other knowing smiles and glaring into each others eyes. Billy’s friend Blanchard seems to have some clues as to what is going on and approaches Billy with a recorded cassette of a private family conversation about the incestuous family orgy at his sister’s social debut. Billy soon falls for a pretty brunette girl, who is a reluctant member of Society and whose mother is a monstrous, brain dead woman who enjoys eating human hair.

As Billy begins to unravel the mystery of the Society his life and the lives of his friends are put in jeopardy. I don’t want to spoil the ending or the secrets of the Society so I won’t say too much more about the actual plot, I recommend you check out this one for yourself. It may be hard to find for hire but if you do stumble across it is definitely worth a watch. This movie has many surprises, shocks and unexpected twists in the plot. The ending is an hilarious gore fest that could rival the likes of Re-Animator (Yuzna also directed Re-Animator 2 & 3). This movie was originally recommended to me by my friend Mitch, kudos to you for a bizarre discovery.