Rasputin walks into a tavern and cures the landlord's wife's
fever by drawing it out with his hands. He asks for much wine
as his reward, but when he ravishes the landlord's daughter
and gets into a fight he is hauled before a senior representative
of the church. The monk is about to be punished when news
of his healing is revealed. Risking the possibility the powers
could be sent from the devil, the church let him go. After
using and manipulating a lady in waiting to the Russian Tsar,
Rasputin hypnotises her into arranging an 'accident' for the
Tsar's little boy, so that he can heal the child and gain
favour with the court in St Petersburg. But his eventual influence
and brusque manner gains him many enemies who see no alternative
but to have the man killed...
the suave and sophisticated but chilling demeanour of his
Dracula portrayal, it's a considerable wrench to witness Christopher
Lee's extreme extrovert characterisation of the mad monk of
St Petersburg. There is still the deep commanding voice and
the staring eyes, but added to that we get a loud, violent,
uncaring, mannerless, crazy, evil scheming manipulative fiend,
whose favourite hobbies seem to be drinking and debauchery
(outrageous!). Lee turns in a pretty fine performance too.
has to be said that Hammer Productions deserve much plaudits
here for managing to compress an extremely long and complicated
semi-true story into a tidy and enjoyable 87 minutes.
Perhaps the legacy of John Carpenter's Halloween character
Michael Myers getting up time after time when believed dead
has changed the way we view madmen in horror films, because
for such a powerful man Rasputin seems to be dispatched far
too easily. Didn't the real Rasputin get poisoned, shot and
stabbed? Or is that just a myth?
Rasputin the Mad Monk from 1966 is a better than average
offering from the prolific Hammer archives, with an on-form
Christopher Lee alone making it worth a look.
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