The Evil Dead vs Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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Recently I’ve noticed some strong similarities between two of my favourite horror franchises, The Evil Dead and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I’d go as far as to say that they are more comparable to each other than to any other franchise in terms of style, tone and premise as we will soon see.

Overview of Both Series

The Evil Dead franchise began with a low budget independent horror movie, called Within the Woods, directed by Sam Raimi and starring Bruce Campbell and Ellen Sandweiss.

The film revolved around a group of twenty somethings stumbling upon an old cabin in the woods, built next to an Indian grave yard. The spirits from the grave however soon possess one of the group, Bruce (played by Campbell), who goes on to pick off the others one by one. Though Ellen (played by Sandweiss), Bruce’s girlfriend is able to slay Bruce, the ending of the film shows that the spirits have survived and leaves her fate open as one of her possessed friends advances on her from behind.

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The film proved to an unexpected success, after being shown as a b-movie before a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

A few years later in 1982, Raimi would produce a remake, titled The Evil Dead. The Evil Dead followed the same premise, but rather than being spirits from an Indian graveyard, the monsters were Demons from hell, summoned by a book called the Necronomicon.

Bruce Campbell and Ellen Sandweiss also played brother and sister rather than lovers, and switched roles, with Ellen’s character now being possessed by the Demons, and Bruce’s character, renamed Ash, being the final survivor.

The ending of Evil Dead similarly saw the last survivor, Ash, being attacked by the Demons after he believed he had banished them, leaving his fate open.

The film was a huge success, though it also proved to be extremely controversial due to its excessive gore, and was even banned in the United Kingdom.

A sequel would be produced in the late 80s, Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn.

The film has often been mistaken for a remake as it opens with Ash and his girlfriend Linda arriving at the cabin and reading from the book, with Linda being played by a new actress. However it is still intended to be a sequel. Raimi and Campbell had intended to open Evil Dead 2 with a recap of the first film, however they couldn’t get the rights as it was owned by a different company, so they were forced to reshoot a recap of the first film.

5 minutes into the second film, the Demons are shown to grab Ash just like the ending of the first Evil Dead. Everything from there on can be considered a sequel to the first film, (and would later be by the series Ash Vs Evil Dead.)

Evil Dead 2 sees the owner of the cabin Raymond Knowby’s daughter, Annie arrive at the house. Though initially believing Ash killed her parents, she later discovers the truth when her demon possessed mother Henrietta returns. Ash and Annie are able to send the Demons back to hell using the Necronomicon, though sadly Annie is killed before she can close the portal and Ash is also sucked through.

The ending reveals that the portal actually sent both the Demons and Ash to the medevil era.

Several years later another sequel would be released titled Army of Darkness which would see Ash battle the forces of the Necronomicon in the 12th century. At the end of the film Ash, after defeating the Demons is given a magic potion that will send him back to his home era.

From here there are two endings, the original intended ending from Sam Raimi, and the more family friendly ending for the theatrical cut.

Original ending.

Theatrical ending.

Over the course of the next two decades Ash would return in various comic books and video games, including several crossover series which would see Ash encounter such characters as Xena the Warrior Princess,  Jason Vorhees, Freddy Krueger and even several Marvel superheroes.

There was also a remake of Evil Dead in 2013, featuring a new female hero. The remake though successful, was more of a serious horror movie like the original, than the later entries which tended to blend humour and horror.

Two years later in 2015, Bruce Campbell finally made a full return to the role in the series Ash vs Evil Dead. This series saw Ash come out of retirement (after accidentally unleashing the Deadites again) and be forced to work with two new Demon slayers, Kelly Maxwell (played by Dana Delorenzo), and Pablo (played by Ray Santiago). The series also expanded on the Demon lore, revealing who created the Necronimcon and introduced the character of Ruby, played by Lucy Lawless (best known for her role as Xena the Warrior Princess.)

Running for 3 series, Ash vs Evil Dead proved to be a huge critical success and brought even greater attention to the franchise. Sadly however after its conclusion in 2018, Bruce Campbell announced that he intended to retire the character of Ash, seemingly bringing an end to the franchise for good.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer originally began as a film in 1992, starring Kristy Swanson as Buffy. It’s premise revolved around one girl in every generation, known as the Slayer being granted the strength and power to hunt Vampires. The latest Slayer, Buffy Summers, is approached by Merrick, a member of an organisation known as the Watchers, to combat the ancient Vampire king Lothos (played by Rutger Hauer.)

Merrick is killed by Lothos, who later launches an attack on Buffy’s school. Ultimately however unlike all of the Slayers before her, Buffy is able to slay Lothos by going against the rules of the Watchers and doing things her own way.

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The Buffy movie was a moderate success, though Joss Whedon was reportedly unhappy with it, feeling that they toned down the horror aspects, and theme of female empowerment from his original script too much.

5 years later Whedon would revive the project as a series. The series, which starred Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy, was a loose sequel to the original film. It takes place several months later and shows Buffy moving to Sunnydale, desperate to move on with her life, only to be approached by another Watcher, Rupert Giles (played by Anthony Stewart Head.)

Buffy at first refuses to continue on as the slayer after the events of the first film, only to be forced into action when her new friends Willow (played by Alyson Hannigan) and Xander (played by Nicholas Brendon) are attacked by Vampires. Buffy later discovers that Sunnydale is built over a portal to a hell dimension which makes it a magnet for not only Vampires, but Demons, Werewolves, Witches and other supernatural creatures.

Buffy’s main adversary was initially The Master, an ancient Vampire king, buried below Sunnydale who sought to open the Hellmouth and allow the Demons trapped within to emerge back into our world and conquer humanity.

Over the course of the series Buffy would go on to battle various other monsters, such as Demons, Ghosts, Werewolves, Zombies, Witches, Gods, Robots and even Aliens from outer space! The core cast would also expand over the course of the series too.

Arguably the two most significant supporting character in the series, outside of Buffy’s original three friends, were Buffy’s two love interests, the Vampires, Angel and Spike (played by David Boreanaz and James Marsters.)

Angel was introduced in the shows first series initially as a mystery man who gave Buffy cryptic advice on Vampires. Part way through season 1 however Angel was revealed to be a Vampire, cursed with a human soul, and therefore capable of feeling remorse. Angel and Buffy would fall in love in season 2, though later that year Angel would lose his soul, reverting to the evil Angelus he had been before. Angelus would serve as the main antagonist for the shows second season. After gaining his soul back at the end of season 2, Angel would later gain his own spin off series, simply titled Angel that would run for 5 seasons and become a major and influential cult hit in its own right.

Spike meanwhile initially began as an enemy of Buffy’s in season two and would continue to recur as a villain until season 4 when he was kidnapped by The Initiative, an organisation devoted to tracking down and experimenting on supernatural creatures. The Initiative implanted a chip in Spike’s brain that caused him pain every time he attempted to hurt someone, but not Demons, resulting in him becoming an unlikely ally of Buffy’s.

In season 5 Spike falls in love with Buffy, which leads to a destructive and abusive relationship between the Vampire and the Slayer, culminating in Spike’s attempt to rape her in season 6. Following this Spike would later win himself a soul and find redemption by sacrificing himself in the season finale of Buffy, before being resurrected as a regular for the final season of Angel.

The series was initially conceived as a “High School is hell” metaphor, but later series would depict Buffy in college and as a young adulthood. Outside of her battles with the undead, the series also saw Buffy cope with everyday personal problems such as her mother dying and subsequently being forced to raise her little sister Dawn.

At the end of the series, Buffy, much like in the original film, goes against the Slayer rules, and has Willow (who over the course of the series becomes a powerful Witch) cast a massive spell which turns every potential Slayer into a Slayer.

Buffy finished in 2003 after 7 season, whilst Angel finished the following year in 2004. 3 years later however, both Buffy and Angel’s stories were continued via two comic book series which are still going as of the writing of this article.

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The official comic book continuation of Buffy and Angel which is said to be canon according to Buffy creator Joss Whedon. 

In 2018, Joss Whedon announced that he would be remaking Buffy, 15 years after the original finished its run. No details are known about the casting or plot at present.

Both Buffy and Evil Dead would go onto be very influential on subsequent horror films and television series, with the characters of Ash and Buffy being among the most iconic horror characters. Edgar Wright, the director of Shaun of the Dead has cited Evil Dead 2 as one of his biggest influences, as has Eric Kripke, the creator of Supernatural, whilst the makers of both Charmed and the 21st century version of Doctor Who have both credited Buffy with inspiring and paving the way for them.

The stars of both franchises such as James Marsters, Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi and Eliza Dushku have also gone on to land major and leading roles in various other cult series and films as a result of both franchises popularity.

Evil Dead’s Influence on Buffy

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Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy and Angel is a fan of the Evil Dead franchise, having cited it as a big influence.

There have even been a few direct references to Evil Dead in Buffy, such as the First Evil shouting “DEAD BY SUNRISE!” in an homage to “DEAD BY DAWN” the tagline of Evil Dead 2, and a phrase that is frequently shouted by the Demons of the series. In the episode Crush, Xander also refers to Spike as “The Evil Dead.”

Whedon’s later horror movie, Cabin in the Woods followed the same basic premise as Evil Dead, a group of twenty somethings become lost in a cabin in the woods, and after reading from a book, end up unleashing ancient Lovecraftian Demons into the world. There is even a reference to the Deadites, the main villains from the Evil Dead franchise too.

With this in mind it is likely that at least some of the similarities between both franchises were intentional. There’s nothing wrong with this. All works of fiction take from others (including Evil Dead which borrowed from everything from The Three Stooges to HP Lovecraft.) Nothing is truly original, but still I think its fair to say that the Evil Dead in many ways was a predecessor to Buffy.

Interestingly enough however Bruce Campbell is a huge Buffy fan and has included a few references to it in his work too. In My Name is Bruce, Campbell’s fictionalized version of himself, who is called in to fight a Demon by one of his fans, says after the Demon is seemingly slain,  “next time there is a Demon, call that Buffy chick.”

Finally the season 2 episode of Ash vs Evil Dead called Delusion, where a Demon attempts to trick Ash into believing that the supernatural are all figments of his imagination, was inspired by the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, Normal Again, which featured a similar plot.

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Similarities

Both Revolve Around A Reluctant Chosen One

Both Evil Dead and Buffy revolve around a hero who is chosen by the forces of good to fight Demons and monsters. Both are even regularly referred to as the chosen one.

Ironically however in both cases the chosen one is, on the surface at least; not anybody’s ideal idea of a hero and is extremely reluctant to be a hero too.

Ash is shallow, lazy, unmotivated, arrogant, egocentric, and at times, somewhat lecherous.

Buffy meanwhile though not nearly as unsympathetic or unlikable as Ash, is still, in the original movie at least, initially shown to be quite shallow, spoiled and vapid.

Both Buffy and Ash regularly quit being the chosen one for long periods at a time, such as at the end of season 1 of Ash vs Evil Dead, and the end of season 2 of Buffy. It would be unthinkable for another Vampire hunter character like Blade or Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing to quit.

Both Buffy and Ash also regularly screw things up, such as when Ash says the wrong words to release the Necronomicon in Army of Darkness, or when Buffy leads dozens of young girls to their deaths at the hands of Caleb.

Both are even responsible for unleashing a lot of the monsters they face. Ash unleashes the Demons in season 1 of Ash vs Evil Dead when he reads from the book to try and impress a girl, (whilst he’s stoned.) Buffy meanwhile is responsible for letting the Master go free in Prophecy Girl when she blunders head first into his base, whilst in season 2, Buffy also inadvertently causes Angel to lose his soul. To be fair to Buffy in regards to Angelus, unlike Ash’s many screw ups, she had absolutely no idea that Angel would lose his soul. Still to have the hero be responsible for letting the villain be free in anyway is again not something that you could imagine with most other heroes.

Buffy and Ash’s flaws do sometimes make them come over as unsympathetic and selfish, but at other times they can make both characters seem more human, which is why both have such an enduring popularity.

Who wouldn’t react the way Buffy and Ash do a lot of the time? Imagine being told that you will have to spend the rest of your life fighting the most hideous, evil, bloodthirsty monsters, that you’ll never be able to have a family, or any kind of normal life again, and that the rest of your life will probably be very short. You’d have a right to be pissed off and ask why does all of this have to fall on your shoulders.

Unlike Blade or Peter Cushing who make it a mission to hunt the forces of darkness, Ash and Buffy are thrown into it unprepared.

Buffy and Ash in both cases later gather together a group of misfits, and unconventional heroes to help them battle the paranormal, the Ghost Beaters in Ash’s case, and the Scooby Gang in Buffy’s.

Buffy and Ash’s unconventional status as heroes is regularly used as a source of comedy and tragedy in both series, which leads to my next point.

They Both Mix Horror and Comedy

Evil Dead and Buffy are not the only examples of the horror and comedy genres being merged together.

However I think its fair to say that they represent arguably the most extreme examples. Most other horror comedies tend to settle on being largely one over the other.

Scary Movie for instance is totally a comedy with a horror movie setting, whilst An American Werewolf in London might have humorous, and witty moments, but is still largely a horror movie.

With Buffy and Evil Dead however the comedy is so severe that it is more or less a complete parody, whilst the horror in both franchises represent some of the most extreme and gruesome in the history of the genre in either film or television.

The jump from comedy to horror is so large as you can see from the two clips above, that if you were to watch both clips in isolation you probably wouldn’t believe they were from the same show!

Both Buffy and Evil Dead are able to merge both genres together so well because they make everything so extreme. The monsters are so over the top, even just in terms of appearance that the viewers are able to accept the horror and comedy being so over the top as a result.

Buffy Vampires vs The Deadites

The main villains of both franchises possess many strong similarities with one another in the following ways.

Origins

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The gigantic, Lovecraftian, tentacled creators of the Vampires and the Deadites.

In both the Buffy and Evil Dead mythology, gigantic god like Demons were said to have ruled the earth many thousands of years before recorded history began. They made the earth a hell dimension before being banished to another dimension, allowing the age of man to begin.

In Evil Dead’s case these Demons were referred to as the Dark Ones, whilst in Buffy they were referred to as the Old Ones. Both are based on the Old Ones from HP Lovecraft’s Cthulu mythos.

The Dark Ones were banished by one of their own, Ruby, through a book called the Necronomicon, which she hoped to use to control them. Ruby however was later stripped of her powers. In Buffy it is not known who banished the Old Ones, but the Demons were cast through a portal to hell, located beneath Sunnydale (which is referred to as the Hellmouth.)

The Vampires and the Deadites meanwhile are lesser creatures created by the Dark Ones/Old Ones to help them escape. The Deadites are released through the Necronomicon, and their goal in all three films, and the tv series, is to use the book to release the Dark Ones to overthrow humanity and bring hell on earth.

In Buffy meanwhile the Vampires were created when one of the Old Ones fed on a human and infected him, turning him into a Demon/human hybrid. He then went on to infect another and another, creating the Vampire race. Thus Vampires main aim in Buffy is similar to the Deadites, as they hope to open the Hellmouth and release the Old Ones to overthrow humanity and bring about hell on earth.

They’re Both Demon/Human Hybrids

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The Deadites and the Vampires are not people at all. They are Demons who inhabit the corpses of humans. They absorb the memories of the human bodies they take over, and even some negative personality traits, but they are not the people whose bodies they take over in the slightest. In some cases they even refer to their predecessors in the third person.

In both franchises we see a few instances of the Demon inside of Deadites and Vampires outside of a human body and it is depicted as nothing more than a savage animal. Therefore the entire Vampire or Deadites personality comes from the memories of the host it takes over. The Demon that possesses Deadites is referred to as a Kandarian Demon, whilst the Demon that possesses Vampires is referred to as a Van-Tal.

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The Van-Tal Demon left, and the Kandarian Demon right, without human bodies to inhabit. Vampires and Deadites only refer to the combination of these Demons in a human body.

Both Demons will often use their hosts memories to trick and torment their loved ones.

Examples of this include in Evil Dead 2 where the Demonic version of Henrietta attempts to trick her daughter Annie into releasing her by singing a lullaby the real Henrietta used to sing to Annie when she was a littler girl, or in Ash Vs Evil Dead when Kelly’s mom is possessed and the Demon uses her memories to repeatedly torment Kelly.

First the Demon lets Kelly think her mother is alive, (after she was killed in a freak accident 6 months earlier.) It lies to Kelly and claims that she was injured and suffered amnesia for 6 months, before it murders her father. Even after killing her father however, the Demon manages to trick Kelly again, making Kelly believe that her mother is merely possessed and that she can fight it with Kelly’s help. Worst of all the Demon later lies to Kelly that her mother wasn’t killed in an accident, but that she in fact killed herself to escape her failure of a daughter!

Spike’s mother similarly after she is turned into a Vampire enjoys tormenting her son, by claiming that she never loved him, always regarded him as a failure, and worse that she had a sexual attraction to him!

In both cases we know that neither Spike nor Kelly’s mother viewed their children that way, but from Spike and Kelly’s point of view, there would always be a tiny grain of doubt, as ultimately the Demon has access to their memories and inner thoughts. This tiny grain of doubt is shown to torment Spike and Kelly for practically the rest of their lives.

At the same time however whilst the Demons are able to use their hosts memories to torment or trick people, ironically there are some instances where their hosts memories can affect them to some extent too. The Demons can even end up having a fleeting affection for their hosts loved ones.

Examples of this include the Demonic version of Henrietta who is shown to become visibly moved when the real Henrietta’s daughter Annie sings, (ironically the lullaby the Demon had attempted to trick Annie with earlier) purely due to Henrietta’s memories, which ultimately allows Ash enough time to slay the beast.

Similarly in Buffy both Spike and Drusilla, even as Vampires still love their parents. Spike even goes as far as to turn his mother into a Vampire, whilst Drusilla later takes a pleasure in torturing Angel as revenge for killing her loved ones, despite the fact that they weren’t actually her loved ones. She is a Demon, merely inhabiting the corpse of the young woman, whose actual loved ones Angelus killed, but once again the hosts memories are enough to trick Drusilla into caring about their deaths, just like Henrietta and Annie.

Whilst not humans, the Deadites and the Vampires do draw a fine line between Demon and human, and explore the idea of our memories really defining who we are more than anything  else, to the point where an evil Demon from hell, can still feel affection and love, simply due to inheriting our memories.

They Are Both Completely Evil

The Buffy Vampires and Deadites are both evil, sadistic monsters who enjoy not only killing, but torturing their victims. Despite the very rare, fleeting moments of affection from some Demons and Vampires. There are virtually no shades of grey to either.

They are all colossal perverts who frequently sexually abuse their victims too, or are at least shown to derive a perverse pleasure from torture.

Examples of this include Angelus who was shown to frequently rape his female victims, Marcus a Vampire who enjoyed torturing, raping and killing children, and even Spike who mentioned doing horrible things to girls Dawn’s age.

In the Evil Dead meanwhile Ruby’s Demon children similarly mention a desire to gang rape Kelly, whilst another female Deadite tears a man’s penis off whilst giving him a blow job. Then there is the notorious tree rape scene from the first Evil Dead.

With this in mind, coupled with the fact that they aren’t people at all, just Demons inhabiting, and therefore really desecrating human corpses. There is absolutely no moral ambiguity in killing Deadites or Vampires at all. The main heroes, Buffy and Ash can kill them in the most gruesome and over the top ways, and not once does any other character, or the viewers question if they are doing the right thing. If anything its extremely satisfying watching the Vampires and the Deadites suffer the most gruesome deaths.

In both cases however they’re both such perverts that they often enjoy being beaten up and tortured to an extent.

The Vampires and the Deadites ridiculous cruelty is often what allows both Buffy and Evil Dead to frequently switch between such overt comedy and such visceral horror. Sometimes their cruelty can be used in a more petty, comical way, with the Vampires and the Deadites being portrayed as homicidal trolls, or just jerks, whilst in other instances they can be portrayed as horrifying, sexual predators.

They Both Look Similar

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Vampires and Deadites can appear human, but when they attack they revert to their true Demon form. Their Demon forms look somewhat similar. They both have large, bumpy foreheads, yellow eyes (in some cases) slightly paler skin, and sharp teeth.

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Joss Whedon himself even said that he preferred the more overt Vampire make up for the creatures in the earlier seasons, because it reminded him of the creatures in old horror films like Evil Dead.

Finally as if those similarities weren’t enough, both the Deadites and the Buffy Vampires main enemies are a reluctant hero, who is picked by the forces of good to do battle against them, and is referred to as The Chosen One.

They Both Span Multiple Mediums

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Buffy and Evil Dead have had a greater success across several different mediums than most other horror franchises.

Big tv hits like Supernatural, Charmed, Being Human, Hex etc, have not crossed over into film or comic books or video games as frequently as Evil Dead and Buffy. Charmed did produce a sequel comic book series, but only one very basic mobile video game and never (to date) a film. Similarly many horror film franchises like Alien, Halloween, and Friday the 13th have not crossed over into television, whilst those who have such as A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream have not crossed over into the video game medium with as much success.

Meanwhile I think its safe to say that not many horror franchises have spawned musicals!

Its even more incredible when you consider that Buffy and Evil Dead have largely been produced by the same people over the decades. The 92 movie may have deviated from Joss’ original idea, but it was still his script.

There are many reasons as to why these two franchises have been able to cross over across so many different mediums more than others.

The fact that they lend themselves to parody more than other franchises is what allowed both to have musical instalments.

At the same time the fact that they do treat their horror seriously, and are even willing to go the extra mile in terms of gore and visceral content (up to and including showing people be skinned alive on screen!) Means that both can just as easily be adapted into terrifying, shocking horror movies too.

Finally the fact that both have such wide universes and mythology, allows them to be adapted as television series, comic books and video games. The fact that they both star such dynamic and over the top action heroes also makes them both a natural fit for video games and comic books too. Even Supernatural and Charmed though having a wide enough universe, both of their leading heroes are more toned down compared to Buffy and Ash. Sam and Dean are ordinary humans (most of the time) who have to rely on spells, and weapons and don’t tend to do as much over the top physical fighting as Buffy, whilst similarly, the Charmed Ones tend to rely on spells and potions to destroy Demons.

Buffy meanwhile has super strength, stabs her enemies, cuts their heads off,  and burns and beats them to death. Ash similarly has a chainsaw hand, hacks his enemies to pieces and gets involved in the most over the top surreal fights scenes.

You can see how both characters could easily translate into the comic books and video game mediums.

Conclusion

As you can see there are a number of similarities between Buffy and Evil Dead. Both feature more human, flawed, reluctant heroes, both merge extreme horror and comedy together, and both feature main antagonists who are the lesser minions of Lovecraftian Demon Gods, whose main goal is to free their masters and cause as much havoc as possible.

Finally due to their larger than life nature and dynamic, action leads, both have been able to conquer just about every medium.

The key difference between the two franchises is that The Evil Dead is aimed more at guys, whilst Buffy the Vampire Slayer is aimed more at women.

Both franchises are hugely popular among both genders, and there are plenty of strong, heroic and villainous roles for both genders in both franchises.

However that said I do think that Evil Dead is aimed primarily more at men simply because it is more of an action series. It focuses solely on the horror, the gore, the monsters. There is some romance in it, but its usually very fleeting. Most of Ash’s love interests are either killed such as Linda and Amanda, or forgotten about. Similarly Kelly and Pablo’s will they, won’t they romance, is largely in the background throughout most of the series.

Buffy meanwhile, whilst having a healthy dose of action and horror too, tends to focus a lot more on the soap opera elements than Evil Dead. We see more of her home life, and later seasons, such as most notably season 6 focus almost entirely on Buffy’s love life, as well as the love lives of her friends like Xander and Willow, with the monsters being pushed into the background.

I’m not saying that you don’t get plenty of women who love horror and gore and action, and plenty of men who enjoy romance stories, but overall I think its fair to say that women tend to enjoy romance more, whilst men tend to enjoy action more.

Buffy and Evil Dead are similar to this respect in Supernatural and Charmed, in that Supernatural and Charmed also represent a similar idea told from a different genders perspective.

With this in mind, and considering the good will there is between the makers of both franchises, I’m amazed that there has never been a crossover between Buffy and The Evil Dead.

Ash has crossed over with Xena, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, but none of them in my opinion are as good a fit as Buffy would be.

I’d love to see a story where the Deadites posses Willow and make her start skinning people at random, like she did to Warren.

Deadite Willow would be the most horrifying villain in either franchise!

The Deadites could easily exist in Buffy’s universe, and the Buffy Demons could easily exist in Evil Dead’s. We know that there are hundreds of species of Demons in both franchises.

Furthermore as the lore is so similar, then they could easily fit together, unlike say Buffy and Supernatural, which has a totally different origin for Demons and Vampires.

If anything Evil Dead could explain who banished the Old Ones in Buffy. We never found out who did banish the Old Ones in Buffy? Maybe it was Ruby, who banished the Demons she couldn’t control through the hellmouth, and the ones she did hope to control into the Necronomicon. The Dark Ones and the Old Ones could easily be the same creatures. They more or less are. All you’d have to explain would be that some people call them the Old Ones, and others call them the Dark Ones.

Maybe with this in mind the Vampires and the Deadites are cousin races. Both created by the Dark/Old Ones, to free them from hell?

Whilst it will never happen in live action, I’d love to see a comic series that brings Evil Dead and Buffy together, and sees the Ghost Beaters and the Scoobies team up to take on some ancient Vampires and Deadites who plan to free the Old/Dark Ones from hell.

Thanks for reading.

 

The Brides of Dracula Review

Hammer’s second instalment in their Dracula series, despite its title did not actually feature the King of the Vampires at all. Instead it followed Cushing’s Van Helsing battling another Vampire, Baron Meinster.

Though it is somewhat overlooked compared to the sequels starring Christopher Lee, I actually feel that in some ways it was one of the best Hammer Vampire films.

It was released in 1960.

Synopsis

Transylvania, land of dark forests, dread mountains and black unfathomable lakes. Still the home of magic and devilry as the Nineteenth century draws to a close. Dracula, monarch of all Vampires is dead, but his disciples live on to spread the cult and corrupt the world

A young French school teacher named Marianne Danielle arrives in Transylvania to take up a position. On route however she is abandoned by her coach driver. She decides to accept the offer of Baroness Meinster to spend the night at her castle despite being warned by the locals not too.

Whilst there she discovers that the Baroness keeps her son locked up in chains below. Taking pity on him, Marianne releases the Baron, but unfortunately it turns out that he is a Vampire.

He was turned many years ago and his mother simply did not have the heart to stake him, so she had him imprisoned to prevent him from hurting anyone.

Upon being freed, the Baron brutally murders his own mother and drinks her blood. After finding the Baronesses drained corpse with puncture marks on her neck, Marianne flees in terror from the castle and eventually is found by Van Helsing.

She does not understand what he means when he asks her about Vampirism, being unfamiliar with the legends, nor does she remember what happened the previous night.

Van Helsing escorts her to the school where she is to be employed, where he discovers a funeral in progress.

Van Helsing has his suspicions that the murdered girl was the victim of a Vampire and begs her father not bury her yet until he can be sure. He doesn’t listen however and that night she does rise as a Vampire and is able to escape thanks to Greta, Baroness Meinster’s former servant who has now serves her son. Van Helsing now suspecting the Baroness arrives back at her castle.

There he discovers her now risen as a Vampire and her son. After a brief fight the Baron is able to escape, whilst the Baroness remains behind. She is full of self loathing and guilt, not only at what she has become, but at what she allowed her son to become. She says she wishes she had slain him years ago and that now more people will die because of her. Van Helsing puts her out of her misery the next morning by staking her whilst she sleeps during the day.

The Baron meanwhile arrives at the school where he is able to seduce Marianne and convince her to marry him. Planning to make her a part of his new Vampire clan, he also bites her friend Gina and turns her into a Vampire. 

The next night Gina rises and tries to kill Marianne who is rescued by Van Helsing in time. Van Helsing tells Marianne that both Gina and the Baron are Vampires and if not stopped they will kill everyone in this school. She tells Van Helsing the whereabouts of the Baron which Gina had let slip to Marianne earlier on. Van Helsing arrives at the old mill.

There he arrives with a cross which repels the Baron and his Vampire brides. Greta however the Baroness’s former servant, now hypnotized by the baron battles Van Helsing. In the fight they both fall from a high point and Greta is killed. Unfortunately Van Helsings cross falls out of reach and as he struggles to get it back the Baron attacks him with a chain. He knocks Van Helsing out and bites him. He then goes to find Marianne, hoping to complete her initiation.

When Van Helsing comes to he sticks a piece of red hot metal into the wound which cauterise it before the infection can spread. He then sprinkles holy water on it to purify it.

The Baron returns with Marianne in tow. Just as he is about to bite her Van Helsing throws holy water in his face which burns it like acid. Whilst he is in pain the Baron kicks over a brazier of hot coals which cause the wind mill to go up in flames. The Baron’s two Vampire brides are killed in the flames, whilst the Baron flees. Van Helsing manages to kill him by pulling the sails of the windmill into the shape of a cross which’s shadow falls on the Baron. The holy power of the cross kills him instantly and Marianne is freed from his hypnotic control.

Review

The Brides of Dracula is an interesting sequel to Horror of Dracula mainly because it doesn’t feature the count at all.

Hammers Frankenstein series stood out from the original Universal series by having the focus be placed on the Professor instead of the monster. In the Universal sequels each film would revolve around the monster usually falling into the care of another scientist, whilst in the Hammer sequels the reverse was true and each film would see the professor create a new monster.

You can see that in this film they were going down a similar route of having the focus of the sequels be on the Professor, in this case Van Helsing who would face a different Vampire king every time.

Sadly however for whatever reason Hammer abandoned this direction and instead placed the focus back on Dracula again. I think this was a mistake as I think this film shows that actually there was more potential in a Van Helsing film series.

Sadly though I do enjoy the later Christopher Lee sequels I feel they don’t really bring much to the Dracula story. Except for Dracula Prince of Darkness which introduces the idea of Vampires being brought back from the grave in a blood ritual. Other than that until the modern day films sadly to me, most of the Hammer Dracula’s with Lee are just the same story over and over again.

Dracula gets brought back, he kills a sexy red head and tries to kill a sexy blonde and then gets killed by a guy named Paul, usually after getting advice from some old guy, usually a priest who knows about Vampires.

Added to that though he is always menacing, Christopher Lee is often sadly wasted in a lot of these sequels. He gets very little screen time, often isn’t brought back until half way through and then just stands at the back staring at young women with his big red eyes.

This sequel meanwhile to start with makes far better use of Peter Cushing. Unlike Lee as Dracula, he isn’t pushed to the side, gets plenty of screen time and the movie really makes use of what was great about his Van Helsing from the previous films, the physical aspect of the character.

This film gives Cushing plenty of great dynamic moments like having him swing through the air like Errol Flynn, pull a burning windmill into the shape of a cross and battle Baron Meinster a crazy chain wielding Vampire. We also get to see how strong his will and determination is when dealing with the Vampires as well such as the famous scene where he cauterizes his own neck wound by ramming a piece of burning hot steal straight into it.

At the same time however I feel this movie is able to flesh out Van Helsing’s character more than the previous film as we see a more caring side to the character when dealing with Baroness Meinster. In the previous movie he was utterly ruthless in dispatching Vampires. Even when they screamed for mercy he’d still just coldly hammer the stakes into their hearts or burn them in the sun.

In this film however when dealing with the Baroness he is more sympathetic to her problems and even offers to help her. You get the impression that he feels that he is genuinely releasing the people who have become Vampires from their state of perpetual torment, rather than just simply killing them to help their victims.

Aside from Van Helsing’s portrayal, this film also explores a very interesting idea that there are many different types of Vampires.

In the previous movie Van Helsing explicitly said that Vampires could not change shape, however in this movie the Baron and his bloodsucking minions regularly turn into bats.

Van Helsing explains that there are many different types of Vampires and that in the events of the previous movie he simply hadn’t encountered any shapeshifting Vampires yet.

This idea of there being many different types of Vampires would be explored in other Hammer films such as Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter which states that there are more species of Vampire than there are bird of prey and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires which shows that each country has its own Vampires that are all different to each other.

Many other non Hammer Vampire pieces of fiction would explore this idea too, including the Horror comic American Vampire, Marvel Comics, as well as the Blade film series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer both the tv series and its comic book sequel, Charmed, the Anno Dracula series which was written by Kim Newman a fan of the hammer films, and the Fright Night remake in 2011 starring David Tennant.

I have always found this to be a fascinating idea as it opens up so many exciting story possibilities. It allows you to incorporate many different Vampire myths. You can have the traditional Vampires, the Hopping Vampires, the Jiang Shi, the Indian Vampires, the Vetala, or the Nelapsi a super race of Vampires that regular Vampires fear and that are said to be so powerful that nothing can kill them, or the Draugrs, Nordic sea Vampires that rise from the oceans at night and drag their victims kicking and screaming back to the oceans depths.

There are a whole wealth of fascinating Vampiric creatures from various myths and legends that could have been incorporated into the Hammer film series. There are also other interesting ideas I feel you can explore too. For instance presumably there are other Vampires out there the equal of Dracula. Dracula is the monarch only of his breed of Vampire, so presumably there are other king or queen Vampires out there. Its kind of like in Supernatural when we see the Alpha Monsters who are the first of their kind, presumably there are other Alpha Vampires out there. How do these Alpha Vampires regard each other? Are their rivalries between them. I’d imagine all other Vampires being terrified of the Nelapsi at least.

Sadly however this movie only really scratches the surface of this idea and in the Dracula sequels all we get is just Dracula coming back and dying again.

Really as much as I love Christopher Lee’s Dracula there was clearly more potential in Cushing’s Van Helsing as a leading character at this point. A series with Van Helsing as the lead could have had him travel from town to town battling the many different types of Vampires and other creatures. It would have been like Supernatural about 5 decades earlier, but with Cushing’s Van Helsing. We could have also found out more about Van Helsing’s past, why he became a Vampire hunter and how his knowledge of the Vampire has grown over the years.

Its just such a shame that they didn’t continue their Van Helsing series. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t have wanted Lee’s Dracula to return at a later date. Indeed that would have made it all the more special if he had been gone for a while, but still I really do think Van Helsing had far more potential as a leading character.

Some reviewers over the years have criticised this movie as they feel that Baron Meinster played by David Peel isn’t as strong an enemy as Christopher Lee’s Dracula.

Whilst there is no denying that Lee was a far more memorable villain I think that Peel does a good job with Meinster none the less. Meinster is a very different type of Vampire to Dracula in more ways than one.

He is more sneering, arrogant and less animilastic and somewhat more cowardly too. He generally sends his minions to fight Van Helsing, flees when Van Helsing attacks him and remains more restrained throughout the film.

In many ways he could be seen as the opposite to Lee’s Dracula, but I liked that as it meant it wasn’t just the same story again. The Baron gave Cushing more of sneaky, sly adversary, one who could actually get people to trust, even love him, who could hide behind his minions and even outwit the good doctor. Whilst Lee’s Dracula was more vicious, and more of a towering force of evil. Peel’s Vampire  is a more crafty villain.

Baroness Meinster I also find to be more interesting than Dracula’s bride from the first movie. She is a conflicted character who genuinely feels guilt over the horrors her son has committed but can’t bring herself to end his life and pays the price for it. Her death at Van Helsing’s hands is very moving.

Terrance Fisher returns as the director and once again brings a real dream like quality to the look of the film. There are some truly wonderful shots such as the final burning windmill and also some explicit scenes of violence too such as Meinster’s face being burned by holy water. I always found that bit particularly gruesome when I was young.

Overall whilst I wouldn’t rate this as quite the classic Horror of Dracula is. Its still a brilliant sequel none the less and definitely one of the stronger entries in the series.

Baron Meinster’s Vampires

The Baron is said to come from an entirely separate race of Vampires to Dracula. These Vampires have the ability to change into bats, something which Dracula and his kind could not do. They also have far greater hypnotic powers than Dracula’s kind too.

Despite this however they do not appear to possess super human strength. Dracula’s Vampires were shown to be far more powerful than even experienced Vampire killers. Van Helsing was unable to hold his own against Lee’s Dracula who effortlessly overpowered him and tossed him across the room, whilst in the next sequel it takes 5 monks to restrain Helen, one of Vampires Dracula brides.

With Meinster however, when he and Van Helsing were shown to fight, Van Helsing could match him and even best him no problem.

They also possess the same weaknesses as Dracula’s Vampires such as holy items, and can be killed by a stake through the heart, and direct sunlight.

It is not known if they can be brought back from the grave like Dracula’s Vampires.

Notes and Trivia

  • This film inspired Jesus Franco, director of the cult classic The Awful Doctor Orlloff to become a director. There is also a character from Vampire Hunter D named Baron Meinster as tribute to this film.
  • Christopher Lee was asked to reprise his role as Dracula for this film but turned it down as he did not want to be typecast as the Count.
  • Peter Cushing apparently changed the ending of this film. Originally Van Helsing was to have summoned Bats to destroy Meinster, but Cushing rejected this as he felt it was too mystical for Van Helsing. This ending would later be utilised for Hammers next Vampire movie Kiss of the Vampire.
  • Originally Kiss of the Vampire was to be a sequel to this film, and Van Helsing was to have appeared. Sadly however Cushing was unavailable and so a new Vampire hunter was created.
  • David Peel who played the Baron retired from acting after this film was released and became a sculptor. This was his only leading role.
  • Not only does Dracula not appear but the Vampires in this film have nothing to do with him. Thus the title The Brides of Dracula is completely inappropriate.

Top 10 horrible things that have happened to Mark Gatiss

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Mark Gatiss is a tv cult legend. Whether for his roles in “Doctor Who”, “Sherlock”, “Being Human” or “The League of Gentleman”. Gatiss has amassed a truly impressive body of work over his long career as a writer, director and actor.

However I’ve noticed recently that Gatiss frequently has something horrible happen to him in just about everything he is in. I suppose he could be called the John Hurt of comedy, as John Hurt similarly often played the victims such as Mr Olivander, Winston Smith, Kane, The Elephant Man and Quentin Crisp. (Ironically they even mention this about John Hurt in The League of Gentleman itself.) Gatiss similarly I feel often plays the victim and even when he doesn’t something bad will still happen to him.

To date Mycroft Holmes is the only prominent role of Gatiss’s I can think of off the top of my head where he is not either, tortured, killed, humiliated or had all of his dreams crushed before him.

Here are what I feel are the worst fates that have befallen Gatiss’s characters throughout his long career.

 

10/ Mr Snow/ Blown up

A light one compared to some of the stuff that is to follow. Mr Snow is the leader of all the Vampires and seeks to overthrow the world. In an alternate timeline he actually succeeds and murders the Prime Minister on television. (Imagine watching Mark Gatiss rip David Cameron’s throat out on television. That doesn’t seem that bad a future after all.) Snow then establishes a nazi like regime where Vampires rule over Werewolves and human beings. However this is foiled by the ghost Annie Sawyer who detonates a bomb that destroys Mr Snow and all of the Vampires in one swoop.

9/ David/ Turned into a Monster then burned to death

David is the son of Tubbs and Edward and at first is portrayed as a nice, charming well mannered individual. Its hard to believe he could have come from Tubbs and Edward! Unfortunately however when he returns to try and take his mother away from his abusive father, Edward corners David alone and the next time we see him, David has become like his parents, a deranged “local” pig nosed freak.

One shudders to think what Edward did to him. By the time we next see him, David has degenerated further into a hairy, bestial monster that frequently eats people. Even Tubbs and Edward are scared of him. Ultimately however David is burned to death by the angry villagers of Royston Vasey on the night of his wedding to Barbara.

8/ Jason Griffen/ Strangled to Death

Gatiss appeared briefly in Pemberton and Shearsmith’s series Pscychoville as a bumbling actor who ends up stumbling into David and Maureen Sowerbutts flat. David and Maureen are essentially a mother and son version of Tubbs and Edward, with Shearsmith once again playing the more evil, sadistic of the two. At first the two believe Jason to be a detective, but when they discover he is an actor, at first they don’t want to kill him, but finally when he discovers the body of another of their intended victims they are forced to strangle him to death. Though David is still reluctant, Maureen is absolutely loving it which just makes it even more disturbing.

7/ Scarecrow Man/ Strung up in a field

Andrew has an affair with Farmer Tinsel’s wife and in retaliation Tinsel strings him up in a field and tortures him for months on end. Later when two young girls stumble upon him they decide to leave him there as they think he is their friend, where as if they released him he wouldn’t be their friend any more. It is not known what became of him, but it can be assumed he either died or is still strung up in that field being tortured daily.

6/ Mr Chinnery/ Cursed for eternity

Poor Mr Chinnery means well but after his ancestor, (also a vet) was cursed every animal he has treated has been killed in the most horrible of ways. Chinnery has put the wrong dog to sleep, pulled a cows guts out through its arsehole, and electrocuted fish, birds and even their owners on many occasions.  Though it is implied that the curse is broken in the Christmas special, I can’t imagine that the writers of the show would have let him get off that easy.

5/ Gantok/ Eaten alive by flying skulls.

Gantok is a minor character who appears in the “The Wedding of River Song”. He is devoured by several flying skulls after he tries to kill the Doctor for beating him at chess. Despite this the Doctor does still try and save him, but he ends up getting torn apart anyway. This is probably Gatiss’s most OTT death, though not his most horrible.

4/ Hang Man Chan/ Eaten by crabs

An overlooked series in my opinion, Dr Terrible’s House of Horrible was a parody of all the old classic British Horror movies like the Hammer and Amicus movies and also of other old classic British series such as Doctor Who and Jason King. By far and away my favorite entry in the series was the second episode which featured Gatiss as the hilariously camp villain Hang Man Chan, known as the “Sinister bony fingered menace from the east”.

The character and the episode in general parodied some of the racism from these old British series, though not in a sneering way as after all its to be expected that television series from the 1960’s might not be quite as progressive as those of today. Anyway Chang meets a very grisly end at the hands of Steve Coogan’s Nathan Blaze who is a send up of heroes like Jason King. First Blaze throws Chan several thousand feet onto jaggy rocks, but Chan survives thanks to his servants (the crabs) who give him a new crab arm. Blaze however then dips Chan’s clawed hand into boiling water and rips the skin off of it. Chan still survives and is then finally finished off when Blaze feeds him to his own crabs who pull him under water and rip him to pieces.

3/ Haig/ Eaten by David

Gatiss seems to get eaten quite a lot. Anyway Haig is some poor bastard who stumbles upon the local shop for a can of coke. After a disagreement over a “can of cant” Haig awakens David, and Tubbs and Edward decide to make him David’s new “friend”. They capture Haig, take him upstairs and throw him in the same room as David who has now become a monster. Edward assures Tubbs that David will “like him to pieces” and Haig is last shown attempting to crawl out of Davids room before being pulled back in. As he is never seen again it can be assumed David devoured Haig though as Tubbs and Edward meant “friend” as in wife, it is possible that David may have done other nasty things to him first.

2/ Les McQueen/ Ruined by his former bandmates

Les is arguably the most sympathetic character in the League of Gentlemen. He was once in a band called “Cremebule” who were on the verge of making it big ,but were then blown away by the Sex Pistols and faded into obscurity. “Then punk rock came along and that were the end of us”. He constantly tries to relive his glory days with disasterous results. In the last episode he appears Les finally meets up with his old bandmates, who it is revealed don’t care about him and actually manage to con him out of all his life savings a few days before his retirement. The look on his face before he is conned out of all of his cash is heartbreaking. In the live show which is of debatable canon he does manage to land a recording contract, but is electrocuted on stage at his first gig.

1/ Builder/ Tortured to death by Tubbs and Edward

Gatiss played many of Tubbs and Edwards victims including the young boy they burn alive and the police man who comes looking for him in the first episode as well as obviously Haig. However by far and away their most memorable victims are the two builders of new road one of whom Gatiss plays. These two unfortunate souls are subject to excruciating and prolonged torture. Edward strips them forces them to watch Tubbs breast feed a pig, smears seering hot tar over their naked bodies and performs insane rituals where Tubbs molests them before Edward cuts them free and shoots them down like animals with a crossbow bolt.

Top 10 Christopher Lee Peformances

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Christopher Lee has had a truly remarkable career spanning several decades. He has appeared in over 300 films and is still working at the age of 92. As you can imagine its quite hard to pick out just 10 memorable performances, but these nevertheless are still my favourites and I hope you agree with at least some of my choices.

10/ Mr Midnight/ The Return of Captain Invincible 

By and large I found The Return of Captain Invincible to be somewhat dull, but I would still consider this to be one of Lee’s best performances nevertheless. Lee’s character serves as the main villain of the piece and the archnemesis to the titular hero Captain Invincible. He is a gloriously OTT, camp character who is assisted by a ridiculous looking Goblin and has a very unusual habit of bursting into song, well I suppose maybe its not so unusual in a musical.

By far and away the most memorable moment in the film is when Lee’s character is cornered by Invincible and with seemingly no other way of escape bursts into a song about how wonderful it is to get drunk. Invincible is a recovering alcoholic, and so booze is his Kryptonite. Mr Midnight not only sings about the wonders of getting smashed, but actually has a bar appear out of nowhere as well as several young women dancing around, all of which turns Invincible into a wreck. The song is named “Choose Your Poison” and is definitely one of Lee’s finest moments.

Here it is

 

9/ Franklyn Marsh/ Dr Terror’s House of Horrors

A very overlooked performance from Lee, Franklyn Marsh is a snooty art critic who is humiliated by artist Eric Landor (played by Michael Gough) and eventually runs him down, causing Landor to lose his hand. Landor later commits suicide, but his severed hand returns and later blinds Marsh in revenge. The thing I like the most about this performance is that unlike a lot of Lee’s other villainous roles, there is nothing even remotely charismatic or likable about this character.

He is just a snooty, pompous know it all who actually has no idea what he is talking about, hence why he is taken in by Landor’s prank where Landor shows him several splashes of paint on a canvas that Marsh believes is a modern art masterpiece, but which were actually made by a monkey instead.

The movie goes out its way to make Marsh seem hateful, even just in little ways like when we see how he never buys a round for his friends despite being loaded. Still despite this one can not help but feel sorry for him at the end when he loses his sight. Lee’s blood curdling scream when he is told he will be blind for the rest of his life is truly chilling. This performance for me always showed how Lee was not limited even in terms of the villains he played.

8/Saruman/ The Lord of the Rings Franchise

 

 

One of Lee’s most recent big roles. Saruman much like Grand Moff Tarkin did for Peter Cushing, brought Lee a whole new generation of fans at a later point in his career. However much like Tarkin, Saruman I feel somewhat suffers from a lack of character development. Saruman is simply evil and that’s that. There is nothing more to his character, and on top of that Saruman much like Tarkin isn’t really given that much to do in all 3 movies (his scenes were cut from the final film altogether.)

Nevertheless Lee makes the most of what little time he is given and is able to make Saruman a very memorable character. He has tremendous screen presence and menace particularly in the scenes where he brutally tortures Gandalf for information. Lee was very unhappy that his scene was cut from the third movie, but fortunately he is slated to appear in the upcoming “The Battle of the Five Armies” in 2014.

 

7/ The Creature/ The Curse of Frankenstein 

The role that helped launch Lee’s career. Lee ironically almost did not get the part for being too small (he was an inch shorter than Carry on Star Bernard Bresslaw, their first choice.)

Throughout his career up until that point, Lee had been continually rejected for being too tall.

Imagine how bad Lee would have felt if having not got anywhere for years for being too tall, he lost his chance at the big time for being 1 inch too short. Fortunately as we all know Bresslaw dropped out and Lee’s career would take off after the success of “The Curse of Frankenstein.”  The role of the creature in this film really wasn’t that much. Just a brainless monster as the focus was on Professor Frankenstein. However despite this I still think that Lee made the most of the role. There are just little moments in Lee’s performance where he is able to inject a real personality into the creature. Particularly when he confronts Professor Victor Frankenstein. The Creatures brain comes from a man Victor killed in cold blood and whilst its brain was damaged to the point where it has lost all memory of who it once was, when it see’s Victor, there is a real look of rage on its face that suggests it still remembers him in spite of everything else.

6/ Francisco Scaramanga/ The Man With The Golden Gun

Sadly “The Man with The Golden Gun” is not one of the most celebrated Bond movies. I myself enjoyed it, but its generally seen as a poor entry in the series when it was still trying to find its feet with new 007 Roger Moore. Fortunately Christopher Lee’s Scaramanga is generally seen as one of the better Bond villains. The antithesis to Franklyn Marsh, Scaramanga just oozes charisma and charm and is the perfect match for 007. Whilst I don’t think “The Man With The Golden Gun” is as bad as everyone makes out I do think that Lee manages to elevate it greatly and Scaramanga certainly has to go down as one of Bond’s most memorable villains.

5/ Nicholas Duc De Richleau/ The Devil Rides Out

One of the few heroic roles Lee has played throughout his long career. De Richleau is very much a Van Helsing type of character, the expert on the occult with a will made of iron. De Richleau has to stand among Lee’s best performances not only because “The Devil Rides Out” is an excellent film overall, but because it is so rare to see Lee playing a completely heroic role. Even his non villainous roles still often tend to lean towards the unsympathetic, but here Lee is given a chance to play a truly virtuous character. It almost makes you feel sad when you think just how well Lee could play the hero, yet he has been given so few opportunities to do so, then again at the same time its not as though he has ever been out of work either.

4/ Dr Charles Marlowe/Edward Blake/ I Monster

A lot of people forget Christopher Lee played Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, probably because his versions of the characters had completely different names. Still Lee for me gave along with Frederick March the best versions of the iconic characters outside of the novel itself. His “Jekyll” did seem like a genuinely sympathetic character whilst his “Hyde” was a genuinely terrifying monster. Most people I feel don’t know how to balance Jekyll and Hyde correctly. Often Jekyll is either too boring or too unsympathetic. Take Hammer’s two attempts at filming the novel “The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll” and “Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde”.  Paul Masse’s Jekyll is bland whilst Ralph Bates Dr Jekyll is just as bad as “Sister Hyde”. Lee however I feel managed to get the balance just right an make Hyde seem like a frightening and chilling monster whilst at the same time not making Jekyll into a bland or boring character.

3/ Kharris/ The Mummy

One of Lee’s most distinctive performances, much like the Creature in “The Curse of Frankenstein” the role of the Mummy in this film was not really that well developed a part. However once again Lee was able to elevate it into being something more which was even more difficult considering this time his face was completely covered by a mask. Lee was able to inject a great amount of sorrow into the Mummy’s eyes and make us feel genuine sympathy for the monster at times even more so than the hero of the film played by Peter Cushing.

2/ Dracula/ The Hammer Dracula Film Series

Christopher Lee’s most iconic performance was as the Transylvanian Vampire in a total of 7 films for Hammer studios (though he also went on to play the role in other films too). The image we have of Dracula in popular culture comes solely from both Lee and Bela Lugosi’s performances. The cape, penguin suit, widows peak and accent as well as Dracula’s persona as a charming otherworldly gentleman all come from Lugosi, whilst the image of Dracula possessing fangs, having bloodshot red eyes and being incredibly tall comes from Lee.

The idea of Dracula actively seducing his victims also comes from Lee as well, though Lee’s Dracula was not in any way a romantic character. Far from it. In fact he was a vicious, sadistic animal who was dangerous to everyone and everything around him. Lee’s Dracula enjoyed beating and torturing his enemies, his servants and even his own wives. Lee also brought a much more physical side not just to Dracula but to vampires in general.

Though there had been stories in literature that depicted Vampires with superhuman strength, before Lee on film they had always been portrayed as more hypnotic creatures. Lee’s Dracula however was a monster who could effortlessly overpower his victims and toss them aside as though they were children.

Ironically despite the enduring popularity of his performances as Dracula, Lee was often dismissive of the Dracula movies he appeared in, believing that they didn’t stick closely enough to Stokers original novel. Despite his own personal feelings about them  Lee will always be remembered as one of cinema’s greatest Dracula’s and really helped to define the character for all time along with Bela Lugosi

 

1/ Lord Summerisle/ The Wicker Man

 

 

Christopher Lee cited this as his favourite performance of his and its not hard to see why. He is perfect as the fanatical Lord Summerisle who is more misguided rather than an out and out villain like Dracula or Saruman. Lee apparently played this role for free, he was so impressed by the script. The Wicker Man remains one of Britain’s all time greatest horror movies and a large part of that is down to Lee’s stellar performance.

The way he plays off of Edward Woodwards character Sergent Neil Howe in particular is fascinating. Howe is a man with just as strong beliefs as Summerisle himself, and much of the film revolves around two deeply religious men remaining true to their beliefs, no matter what the odds.