This week I’m diving into some older fare, starting with a 1-2 punch of Hammer Horror. Though there is little in the way of horror and the mystery of Captain Clegg, or Night Creatures as it was released in the US is cleared up for audiences pretty quickly, I was surprised at how robust and fun a film it was. It’s a great starring turn for Peter Cushing, who whips out (with the help of some sharp editing) some sweet action moves as a town’s religious leader with a questionable past.
THE QUICK SUMMARY: Captain Clegg was a ruthless pirate who we see briefly punish a brute for assaulting his wife, who died in childbirth. Years later the British Royal Navy seize upon the tranquil town of Dymchurch to investigate potential smuggling of spirits. But the town tells stories of a different kind of spirit, the “Marsh Phantoms” who prowl the marshes and kill unsuspecting folks, such as old Tom Ketch. Soon the Royal Navy led by Captain Collier has to square off against the town led by Parson Blyss, who is determined to keep his town safe and cared for…no matter the cost. Bu why is the brute so angry at the mere sight of Blyss? Wo or what are the mysterious skeletons riding in the marshes, and the scarecrows with the moving eyes? And what about that jawline on Oliver Reed? All will be revealed…
The biggest surprise of Captain Clegg beyond how awesome Peter Cushing is (man, that hair is to die for) is how well the story works. It’s pretty simple, but by putting the side of “good” up against the town who, spoiler: is in fact smuggling spirits, but shows the town as the heroes and protagonists of the story. It’s fun to watch the inner workings of the town and how they live and thrive despite the heavy hand of her Majesty.
Oliver Reed makes a show as the young son of the local magistrate, as well as the lover of the beautiful barmaid Imogene, who has a secret or two of her own. Watching him mug his way through the minor love subplot is a joy, and only makes me want to watch Curse of the Werewolf
Not much else to say. hammer has a very distinct vibe to their films, and you either dig their lurid drama or you don’t. I for one love it, just as much as the Universal stuff or anything else for that matter, and it was a bright start to the week to catch up on some of their smaller films.