A devoted 'Hammerhead'

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Jack Calvert's picture
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Delighted to find this website! High kudos to Juan for making it happen!


As a boy, I utterly fell in love with the Hammer films when I first saw them on the CBS Late Movie many years ago. They were entirely different from the Universal horror films that I had come to know and love. The first Hammer Dracula film I ever saw was Dracula Has Risen from the Grave. I was absolutely riveted by Chrisopher Lee's icily commanding performance, and by the subversive plotline about an ineffectual priest who becomes Dracula's minion and a young athiest who is expected to kill Dracula after staking him in the heart, but can't pull it off because he is unable to utter the requisite prayers with any conviction!


Much as I loved Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Sir Christopher was a thousand times more terrifying in the Hammer films. A blizzard of vampire movies have been made since then, however no actor has ever come close to approximating the diabolical ferocity of Christopher Lee's Dracula. Snooty film critics (and I used to be one) have sometimes been uncharitable toward these movies in the past, however the kindly passage of time is proving the Hammer Dracula films to be the classics they are, mostly on account of Mr. Lee's bravura performance.       


The Hammer films were darker and gorier, and they brought a sense of gallows humor and continental sophistication to the genre without which many of our latter-day movie villains mightn't exist today. Hannibal Lecter's grand progenitor may well be the urbane Baron Frankenstein as played by Peter Cushing, who, in The Curse of Frankenstein, was found to be eating sauteed kidneys in his laboratory (pronouncing them to be 'delicious'), and who , in Frankenstein Must be Destroyed, had become a full-on Jack the Ripper-style serial killer, decapitating unsuspecting doctors in the fog-enshrouded streets.


In the American television show, Monk, the title character (played by Tony Shalhoub) once observed that he didn't mind change as long as he wasn't there when it happened. For those of us who are fans of Sir Christopher Lee, it is has been an enormously reassuring thrill to see him turning up in film after film over the years, whether it's Dracula, Gremlins, or Lord of the Rings, still riveting audiences with his magnetic presence and that unmistakable basso profundo voice. Harsh and tentative as life can sometimes be, his amazing longevity gives us all a little hope for a smidgeon of gracious immortality.


years ago, I read an article in which it was reported that Mr. Lee had originally planned to be an opera singer. He certainly has the voice for it, however I am selfishly delighted that his career path led elsewhere. I've never been keen on opera, besides which the movies would never have been the same without him.


Jack

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Stuart Ball's picture
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Re: A devoted 'Hammerhead'

Welcome to the site Jack - a great first post by the way! It seems to have gone a little quiet round here lately but hopefully things will pick up again soon and the forums will be like they used to be with plenty of great discussion.

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Don Boycik's picture
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Re: A devoted 'Hammerhead'

yes welcome to the site Jack. & thank you Stuart.  i was just thinking the same thing on how still the board as been as of late. i was away from it for a few days. & i come back & there's really not many posts since i left it. i am thrilled & relieved to find out it wasn't just me who noticed this. i recall the days too when we would have pages & pages & pages of discussion  here he he to wade through is the best way to put it. i guess since it's now spring my guess is t hey are outside playing with their kids, for those who have them. or just have been busy. as for me i don' t  have any kids soo i'm here.



Don Boycik's picture
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Re: A devoted 'Hammerhead'

by the way can you make the picture of "The Joker" smaller? it's HUGE on my puter.  it  covers what you typed Jack.



Ray Johns's picture
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Re: A devoted 'Hammerhead'

You Go, Hammerhead!

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Steve Thompson's picture
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Re: A devoted 'Hammerhead'

Hello Jack, and welcome to the site. Hello Stuart also..  it HAS gone very quite on this site. I have been having difficulty navigating, as it is slow to load for me. I have also been distracted by facebook over the last 6 months, which I was persuded to join. I wonder if Juan has considered opening a relative site on FB ... their are a lot of unofficial, related sites, which I hesitate to join and it would be great to keep in touch with everyone and keep up to date, with Sir Christophers events, via such a site. I will keep popping on now again though.


My best to all!

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Helen Dyer's picture
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Re: A devoted 'Hammerhead'

Hello Jack, Welcome to the site!

Cheers, Helen

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Jack Calvert's picture
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Re: A devoted 'Hammerhead'

Thanks for the gracious welcome, Stuart, Don, Ray, Steve and Helen! Very kind of you. My particular apologies to Don (with the great Jon Pertwee avatar), for the unwieldy Joker photo I posted. Been having an enormous amount of trouble trying to post a profile image. No matter how I torture them in Photoshop, the images tend to show up either titanically huge or not at all, so I removed the profile photos altogether. I only posted the Joker photo because I was particularly proud of it. I spent several months last year earning a living as a Joker impersonator, but eventually gave it up because it took many hours each day to apply the prosthetics and makeup. I had no interest in doing it unless I could do it properly, but it eventually became pure torture. And a tad expensive to boot. 


I'm looking forward to chatting with all of you, about all things Hammer and Christopher Lee.


Thanks again for your warm welcome,


Jack


 


 

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Luzmila Frisancho's picture
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Re: A devoted 'Hammerhead'

Jack, welcome to CLW.



Stuart Ball's picture
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Re: A devoted 'Hammerhead'

Steve Thompson wrote:

 I have also been distracted by facebook over the last 6 months, which I was persuded to join. I wonder if Juan has considered opening a relative site on FB ... their are a lot of unofficial, related sites, which I hesitate to join and it would be great to keep in touch with everyone and keep up to date, with Sir Christophers events, via such a site.



 


 


I have been distracted by Facebook too Steve! Very addictive and you find it eating more and more into your time!


An official Christopher Lee page on Facebook is an excellent idea as there is a huge captive audience there already. 

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Matt Gemmell's picture
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Re: A devoted 'Hammerhead'

Welcome Jack

                               Sorry for the delay in responding to a true Hammerhead but I'vd had a busy month.As you can see from my avatar Hammer is very dear to my heart. From boy to man I've loved these films.Over the last ten years or so I've been lucky enough to meet many of the people responsible from Michael Ripper through Veronica Carlson, Jimmy Sangster etc etc etc right up to Mr Lee himself. It's been a dream come true.

It's true the site has been quiet of late but that happens now and again. I hope to pop by a bit more often and contribute some more.

 

Cheers

Matt



Isabel Alves's picture
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Re: A devoted 'Hammerhead'

Welcome to the site!
 

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