The Internet was heartbroken this past week with the news that Christopher Lee had passed. At 93 years old, the film legend, author, and sometimes heavy metal singer had amassed fans from all generations and across genres. In particular, he was a horror film god, seen in many of the Hammer horror films of the late 1950s through the mid 1970s. But he was in many other kinds of films, including the playing the titular character opposite Roger Moore’s James Bond in The Man With the Golden Gun. More recently, you might know him as Count Dooku from the Star Wars prequels, as Saruman from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

christopher lee tribute

 

His influence on horror films in undeniable, placing him firmly in the pantheon of horror icons. I’ve put together a (non-exhaustive) list of some his most well-known horror films, including a few personal favorites. If you are already a fan, I hope you enjoy this list and remember Mr. Lee’s contributions fondly. If you aren’t a big fan, consider this list a good jumping off point to familiarize yourself not only with Mr. Lee’s work, but some well-crafted and entertaining horror classics.

Without further, adieu, in chronological order:

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Lee plays Dr. Frankenstein’s Creature opposite Peter Cushing’s Dr. Frankenstein. Lee was able to breathe much-needed life and humanity into the Creature, rendering the character as complex, repulsive, and sympathetic, just as Mary Shelly intended.

Find it on Amazon Prime here.

The Horror of Dracula (1958)

Extremely expressive actor, using his whole body to convey his character. He’s amazing to watch. As in many of his other films, he takes full advantage of the space and takes up more than his fair share of the screen, working that cape like it’s an extension of his body. His interactions with his fellow actors are just as compelling—he uses his natural charisma and fearlessness to control the scene and truly embody the role of Dracula. Be sure to check out the other Hammer pictures in which Lee played Dracula.

Find it on Amazon Prime here.

The Mummy (1959)

Starring in the titular role, Christopher Lee avoided the pitfalls of playing such a frightening character by bringing feeling and humanity to the role. Not only is his Mummy monstrous, but somewhat relatable. Lee makes use of his talent and employes masterful non-verbal moments to give a wonderful performance.

Find it on Amazon here.

Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

The direct sequel to The Horror of Dracula, this movie is another solid, vastly entertaining entry into the Hammer’s Dracula series. Movie lore whispers that Christopher Lee hated the dialogue and therefore refused to speak any of his lines. Whether or not this is true, his acting is so good that he doesn’t need to speak in order to reprise his role as the terrifying Count Dracula.

This one isn’t on Amazon or Netflix streaming, but you can still buy it on Amazon.

The Devil Rides Out (1968)

Lee didn’t play the villain or monster in this one—rather, he played a hero, concerned with saving a family friend from the nefarious influence of Satan. While the film didn’t quite live up to expectations, almost everyone agreed that Lee’s acting was inspired, as always.

This one isn’t on Amazon or Netflix streaming either, but you can buy it on Amazon.

I, Monster (1971)

An Adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Lee showcased his acting prowess by playing Dr. Charles Marlowe and his alter ego Edward Blake. Cushing also starred in this film opposite Lee. As always, it was a pleasure to watch them work together.

Watch it on Amazon here.

Horror Express (1972)

Lee stars as a reknowned British anthropologist who would have been better off leaving buried things buried. He is traveling on a train with his latest scientific finding—a frozen body he hopes will support his claim of a missing link between man and animal. But this frozen specimen may not be dead, and in fact, he may be responsible for a series of gruesome deaths aboard the train.

Watch it on Amazon here.

Wicker Man (1973)

Not to be confused for unintentionally hilarious 2006 remake starring Nicholas Cage. Christopher Lee played Lord Summerisle, the leader of the creepy, weird town in which The Wicker Man takes place. At first warm and welcoming, his broad smile is a knowing mask. From the beginning, he is in control of the story as the stately lord of the island, participant of the disturbing May Day festival, and sincere high priest of a long forgotten pagan religion. He leads us all to the fiery and horrific end. You won’t soon forget this movie.

Watch it on Amazon here.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Lee had a very brief role in the beginning of this film. He plays the burgomaster who sends Johnny Depp’s Ichabod Crane to investigate the strange deaths in Sleepy Hollow. It doesn’t take long for Lee to establish his character’s unquestionable authority.

Watch it on Amazon here.

Corpse Bride (2005)

Lee put his vocal talent to good use in this delightfully macabre film, voicing the grumpy and unforgiving Pastor Galswells. Lee had collaborated with Tim Burton before (see above). It’s a small part, but Lee kills it.

Watch it on Amazon here.

The Horror of Dracula and The Wicker Man are my favorites. I think Christopher Lee created the most frightening and compelling Dracula, better than Bela Lugosi. I said it–Bela Lugosi was not scary. Christopher Lee was ferocious and menacing where Bela Lugosi had some mad eyebrow game and that’s pretty much it. Just my opinion.

Oh and The Wicker Man is truly disturbing while being totally engrossing. They don’t make horror movies like that anymore, which makes me sad.

And they don’t make actors like Christopher Lee anymore. I doubt we will ever see a talent like his again. He was one of a kind and will be missed.

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