I got the news this morning that screen icon Christopher Lee died at age 93. Sir Christopher loomed large in my childhood, being the fan of “monster movies” that I was (and very much still am).
In fact, it was a Christopher Lee film, Dracula has Risen from the Grave (1968) that was my first horror movie experience at a theater (the Halstead Drive-In in beautiful Riverdale, IL to be exact).
Both my brother an I were utterly terrified – and we loved every minute of it! (We would later go on to see the next film in the series, Taste the Blood of Dracula, two years later.)
I actually had the opportunity to meet Mr. Lee at a horror movie convention in Baltimore some years ago. In fact, many of the cast of those venerable Hammer horrors were there. (I also spoke with Freddy Francis who directed “Has Risen” – and who later won an Oscar as director of photography for Glory.) Great stuff.
At the convention, we were treated to a lengthy interview with Lee, at which time he spoke of his friendship of fellow Hammer star Peter Cushing. He also displayed his singing prowess by regaling us with his operatic baritone. Great stuff! (Ah, but I already said that…)
It’s bittersweet to see one of your childhood icons die – bringing back a flood of shadowy memories and the larger-than-life experience of being so properly scared.
Of course, there was also a magic in it back then, likely due to the fact that I was only 7.
Ah, the likes of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine featuring Lee/Dracula (and also Barnabas Collins from Dark Shadows!).
Or Creature Features on WGN-TV at 10:30 every Saturday night.
Or countless other in-retrospect-little-things-that-seemed-huge-at-the-time.
All of it was…. GREAT STUFF!!!!
Thank you Sir Christopher, for all the great moments you gave us (from Dracula to Rochefort to Dooku to Saruman)!
God bless you and your memory, and may you rest in peace.