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.