31 Days of Halloween 2016 #8 – Rasputin is Mad

rasputin1To coincide with the celebration of Christopher Lee, this marathon takes a look at Rasputin, the Mad Monk from 1966.  This movie is underrated.  When I first saw it, it was on a lark, and almost accidentally, I liked this film.  

Rasputin, the Mad Monk features Christopher Lee as the indignant Rasputin, who has amazing healing powers.  The Russian Czar-ess takes him into his palace to doctor the sick, and at once, he becomes a menace.  He tells the fat, Russian ladies to start exercising, and he takes on many rivals at court.  In other words, he’s not long for this world.

Christopher Lee’s performance as Rasputin is surprising.  He’s inadvertently hilarious, as he tells it like it is.  He’s sarcastic and urbane, not willing to entertain the whims of anyone.  I’m not sure which is more ominous, his appearance as Dracula or Rasputin.  Lee plays Rasputin as angry as he can, and he looks down on everyone.  His long beard and hair give him a foreign, eccentric appearance, and his height makes him seem monstrous.  

The plot is a simple story.  Rasputin has this reputation as a great healer, but he becomes more trouble than he’s worth.  A couple of dopes send him some poison chocolates and we all know Rasputin has a soft spot for cherry-filled chocolates.  It’s a smart plan, to be sure.  Rasputin sits in the waiting room and since he’s impatient, he gobbles down all the chocolates.  So much for Rasputin.

The beginning is the best part of this movie, as they build Rasputin’s reputation.  He cures the Czar’s son and impresses the Czar-ess by lifting her headache.  Personally, I think he  slipped her a mickey.  He gains quite a following but you can everyone hates his poor attitude.  Good thing he doesn’t work in an office.  Unlike Dracula, Christopher Lee needs only to be an arrogant jerk in this movie, which he seems able to accomplish easily.

Overall, this is a good movie.  This is one movie Christopher Lee carries all by himself, unlike Horror of Dracula from 1958 and Dracula, Prince of Darkness from 1966.  Rasputin comes alive as the dark and foreboding eccentric, who the townsfolk should have never messed with.  Given that, I guess the Dracula similarities are there, except for all the gimmicks and usual mannerisms you might expect from a legendary vampire.  Rasputin has his own gimmicks and eccentricities, such as the way he moves his hands and eyes.  The director uses the close-up to emphasize how Rasputin can peer into a man’s soul.  It works.

Overall, this is a decent movie, if not a little bit simple.  It’s meant to be entertaining, not Shakespeare.  It is.  Christopher Lee is awesome.  The 60s are a great period for Lee, and most of his movies are entertaining as all get out, but he really has a presence as Rasputin.  Since nobody expects anything from him as Rasputin, I think Lee seems motivated in this role.  Still, he’s pretty much a villain and that’s it, but at least it’s fun.

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31 Days of Halloween 2016
31. Young Frankenstein (1974) 
30. Jason X (2001)
29. Cloverfield (2008) 
28. The Monster Squad (1987) 
27. Bad Moon (1996) 
26. The Haunting (1963) 
25. Splinter (2008)
24. Frenzy (1972)
23. Aggression Scale (2012)
22. The Exorcist III
21. At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1963)
20. Silver Bullet (1985)
19. Joy Ride (2001)
18. Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
17. The Funhouse (1981) by Tobe Hooper Shin Godzilla (2016) 
16. Videodrome (1983)
15. Re-Animator (1985)
14. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
13. Cube (1997)
12. Evil Dead 
11. Day of the Dead (1985)
10. Tales of Halloween (2015) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
9. They Live (1988)
8. The Innocents (1961) Rasputin, the Mad Monk (1966)
7. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
6. Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)
5. I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle (1990)
4. Hatchet (2006)
3. The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
2. Halloween II
1. Silence of the Lambs

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