Category Archives: LBoM: In Memorandum

John Hughes

I think growing up in the 80s was where my love of film steamed from and when it comes to 80s cinema, John Hughes was one of the very best writer/directors of the time. It would have been his birthday today too (18/2).

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So this here is going to be my tribute to one of my all time favourite film-makers.
Starting with this “In Memorandum” here and with me also taking a look at some of my own favourite films of his in a retrospective.

Born John Wilden Hughes Jr on February 18 1950 in Lansing, Michigan.

Hughes dropped out of the University of Arizona and started his career by selling jokes to well known performers of the day such as Rodney Dangerfield and Joan Rivers. Hughes subsequently penned a story, inspired by his family trips as a child called; Vacation ’58, this story caught the attention of the famed comedy magazine National Lampoon magazine where he was offered a staff job.

His first credited screenplay; Class Reunion, was written while still on staff at the magazine and was eventually turned into the movie; National Lampoon’s Class Reunion (1982). This was the third film produced by National Lampoon. The first film being; Animal House (1978), which was a success. So National Lampoon wanted to repeat that success and followed it up with; National Lampoon’s Class Reunion (1982) National Lampoon’s Movie Madness (filmed in 1981 but not released until 1983). The second two films were a disaster and almost closed the movie branch of National Lampoon for good.

Yet Hughes had another film script up his sleeve, one based off his story; Vacation ’58. What we got from that was…

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National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) was a major hit and put National Lampoon back on the map.
Shorty after, Hughes landed a three movie deal with Universal Studios.
His directorial debut; Sixteen Candles (1984) was another big hit and proved Hughes was a writer/director worth watching. John followed up this success with other big hits like The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Weird Science and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Not wanting to be pigeon-holed as a writer/director of teen comedies, he decided to go a more ‘adult’ route in 1987 with the amazing; Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

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John had a relatively short career as a director with only 8 films to his name between 1982 to 1991 with his last film as a director; Curly Sue (1991).
He was more known for his writing. But despite such a short directing career, he did make some of the most memorable films of that era.
In the 90s, Hughes concentrated more on his writing, with his biggest hit as a writer being; Home Alone (1990).

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Many would suggest his writing during the mid 90s got slowly worse and worse with some people claiming that Hughes became lazy and uninspired. That he just began phoning in his work around the mid 90s and was living off the success of one of his bigger hit films of that decade as a writer, Home Alone.
However, I’d like to offer my own personal reason and even explanation as to why John Hughes went ‘off the boil’ in the 90s and never truly recovered.
John Hughes was very close to and best friends with the amazing John Candy, who unexpectedly died in 1994. I quite honestly believe that Hughes lost much more than just a friend with the loss of John Candy.
I believe Hughes lost his whole drive and passion for the industry when John Candy died.

Despite the loss of his close friend, Hughes still maintained a popular writing career when he penned sequels to Home Alone, the Beethoven series, Dennis the Menace, Baby’s Day Out, the live action 101 Dalmatians, Flubber and various other screenplays.

Hughes had an amazing but short directing career in the 80s and he defined and inspired a generation, but despite being a prolific movie writer in the 90s, he would never see that level of success ever again.

John Hughes died August 6, 2009 after suffering a severe heart attack. He was 59.

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John Hughes:Many film makers portray teenagers as immoral and ignorant, with pursuits that are pretty base. But I haven’t found that to be the case, I listen to kids, I respect them. Some of them are as bright as any of the adults I’ve met.

Thanks for all your work in the 80s John, the decade just wouldn’t have been the same without you. I won’t forget about you.
Also check out my personal retrospective look at my favourite John Hughes films.

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Alan Rickman

What a shitty few days eh?
On Sunday, we lost a musical genius and true artist with David Bowie. Now one of the most amazing and talented actors to ever grace the screen or tread the boards has now gone too.

Strangely enough they have both died at the age of 69 and both from cancer too.

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Alan was born Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman on 21 February 1946.
He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and got his first acting role in a TV movie of Romeo & Juliet in 1978 playing Tybalt. His big break came with his role as the Vicomte de Valmont in the stage production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1985, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. His stage performances include The Seagull, Romeo and Juliet, A View from the Bridge, As You Like It and The Barchester Chronicles through the 70s and 80s.

It was during the late 80s when he moved to L.A to peruse a career in movies, and what a career he had.
His film roles include parts in Truly Madly Deeply, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Sense and Sensibility. The TV movie Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny for which Alan won both a Golden Globe and an Emmy.
One of my favourite films; Dogma. He even showed his more playful and comedic talent in Galaxy Quest and even provided a voice for the animated sit-com, King Of The Hill.
Of course Alan also lent his amazing talent to the Harry Potter franchise playing Severus Snape.

Snape

As a well as featuring in the Tim Burton films; Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Alice in Wonderland as well as its upcoming sequel.

I have only touched on a few of this great actors performances over the years.

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Rickman not only had an illustrious career as an actor but also a director on both the silver screen and also theatre.
In 2005, he directed the award-winning play; My Name is Rachel Corrie. He also directed two feature films; The Winter Guest (1997) and A Little Chaos (2014).

Rickman had one of those very distinctive and claiming voices. You could just close your eyes right now and hear him in your head can’t you?

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Of his many, many roles, the one I will always remember him for is Hans Gruber from Die Hard.

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One of the best action/thrillers of the 80s. Based on the novel; Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp. The film was the first starring role for the then relatively unknown Bruce Willis. Yet it was Rickman that stole the show playing Hans Gruber, leader of a “terrorist” group taking control of a skyscraper and holding 40 odd hostages.

Hans was slick, charming, charismatic…but also ruthless, deadly and sadistic. He could make you smile and just as easily put a bullet between your eyes too. A bad guy you really enjoyed watching and could even root for. Alan played the part perfectly and the character has left a lasting impression on a generation of film fans like myself.
Bruce was good, but this film would just not have worked as well as it did without Alan Rickman as the big bad.

He also landed this iconic and career defining role only two days after moving to L.A. to pursue a film career.

Alan Rickman was to acting what Elvis was to music. Did not matter what he was doing whether it be comedy, drama, romance, action, etc. He could do it all and always impressed each and every time.
He could even make an unbearable film enjoyable to watch just by being in it.

One of the best villainous actors of all time.
When Alan was good, he was great. But when he was bad he was even better.

Alan Rickman died in London on January 14th 2016 at the age of 69 from cancer.

There is really only one way to say goodbye to the man that played Hans Gruber…

Happy trails Hans.

Alan

Alan Rickman:I do feel more myself in America. I can regress there, and they have roller-coaster parks.

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Gunnar Hansen

Its been a shitty few months for horror fans, first Wes Craven and now, I just read Gunnar Hansen died and if you don’t know who Gunnar Hansen was then you lack horror film knowledge and are in need of educating.

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Gunnar was born on March 4, 1947 in Reykjavik, Iceland. He moved to the US at the age of 5 with his family and lived in Maine until the age of 11, when the family again moved this time to Texas.
Gunnar majored in English and mathematics as an undergraduate.

He held several jobs after school including working as a computer operator, dabbled in theatre work during college. His big frame made him perfect for a football player during high school, and for a while a bar bouncer.

It was in 1973 when Gunner heard of a horror film being made in his home town of Austin, Texas that he decided to try out for a role.
That film was the infamous; The Texas Chain Saw Massacre directed by Tobe Hooper and the role he landed was Leatherface.

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Despite The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s success, Hansen turned his back on acting only appearing in the film The Demon Lover (1977). He even turned down a role in the Wes Craven directed; The Hills Have Eyes (1977). Hansen instead moved back to Maine and started pursuing a writing career.
Hansen eventually returned to acting in 1988 with the spoof film; Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and appeared in over 20 films since.
He even eventually returned to the franchise that made him famous with Texas Chainsaw 3D in 2013 appearing in a cameo role.

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Gunnar was also a successful writer with his; Islands at the Edge of Time, A journey to America’s Barrier Islands being published in 1993. He also wrote 2013’s; Chain Saw Confidential, which covered the making of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and its infamous reception and influence.

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Gunnar Hansen died at his home in Maine from pancreatic cancer on November 7, 2015. He was 68.

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Gunnar Hansen:I never thought I had it in me. Just before production started, I was sitting in a drugstore, had nothing at all planned for the summer, heard about the casting call, and decided to try out on a lark. I was 26 years old, just out of graduate school.

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Wes Craven

We’ve lost one of the greatest horror writer/directors.
Its strange how I was actually writing a Wes Craven piece I was planning on saving for Halloween. Its a great shame the reason I’m posting this article now is due to his recent passing instead.

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Wesley Earl Craven was born August 2, 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Craven earned an undergraduate degree in English and Psychology as well as a master’s degree in Philosophy and Writing.
Wes moved into a teaching career and taught English at Westminster College. During his early teaching life, Wes purchased a second-hand 16mm film camera and began making his own short movies.
He got his first real film-making job as editor on You’ve Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You’ll Lose That Beat (1971).
Wes eventually moved into making porn films, the documentary Inside Deep Throat, Craven says on camera he made “many hard core X-rated films” under pseudonyms. Wes left the world of porn and got into the genre that would make him famous…

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Wes Craven’s first feature film as director was The Last House on the Left which was released in 1972.
The film was a moderate success despite of its infamous controversy. The film made a huge impact upon release and gave Wes the opportunity to ply his trade and cement himself as a genuine horror film-maker.

Though it would take 5 years for Wes to make his next and equally as impactful next full feature film.

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The Hills Have Eyes was relased in 1977 and again was a success for Wes and today enjoys a large cult following.
Craven even made a sequel, The Hills Have Eyes Part II, in 1985, but he later disowned the picture.

Through the 70s and early 80s, Wes enjoyed a steady film-making career with both theatrical as well as TV movies, with films like; Stranger in Our House (1978), Deadly Blessing (1981) and Swamp Thing (1982).
However it was the year 1984 that would see Wes bring his most famous horror creation to life.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street was Wes Craven’s masterpiece of horror. Drawing from real world events and even basing the iconic Freddy Krueger on a kid who used to bully Wes at school as well as a tramp that lived near his childhood home…yes in a roundabout way, A Nightmare on Elm Street is based somewhat on fact.
This film also launched the career of some unknown actor called Johnny Depp.

Wes Craven created a monster…really he did. The Nightmare franchise spawned many, many (too many) sequels, several spin-offs, it’s own TV show and even a 2010 remake…with another reboot announced recently too.
But of course a large part of that success was due to this guy right here…

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It wasn’t the heroine of the film that became the fan favourite. It was the villain Freddy Krueger who went on to become a pop culture icon.

A Nightmare on Elm Street was a runaway success and opened several doors for Wes Craven as a film-maker as well as it being the one film that saved production company, New Line, from bankruptcy.

Wes Craven stuck to his love for the horror genre through the 80s and 90s making films such as; Deadly Friend (1986), The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), Shocker (1989), The People Under the Stairs (1991) as well as the massively underrated and very cerebral sequel; Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994).

In 1992, Wes also directed and produced the TV show; Nightmare Cafe.

Wes film-making career got a huge boost in in 1996 thanks to a meta, self-aware slasher flick.

Scream

Scream was an interesting and quite risky film that decided to breakdown and reconstruct the clichés of the horror/slasher film. It was made at a time when this genre was all but dead on its legs, it took several brave and bold moves by making fun of the very genre it was trying to reinvent.

The received several awards and award nominations following its release, including the Saturn Award for Best Actress, Best Writing, and Best Horror Film.
Scream went on to become its own franchise with 3 sequels relased in 1997, 2000 and 2011. As well as spawning its own TV series, which Wes was Executive Producer on in 2015.

He also directed the massively overlooked 2005 thriller, Red Eye.

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Red Eye is a brilliant and tense thriller that I only recently discovered myself. But if you enjoy a suspenseful and well directed film, then I do strongly suggest you give this film a view. I’ll just leave it at that as this is a film best not spoilt beforehand.

When Wes wasn’t writing/directing/producing, he would often make the odd cameo in other productions appearing in; Body Bags (1993), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), The Tripper (2007) and Diary of the Dead (2008).

Wes even designed the Halloween 2008 logo for Google.
In 2012, the New York City Horror Film Festival awarded Craven the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Wes Craven died of brain cancer at his home in Los Angeles, August 30, 2015. He was 76 years old.
You will be missed Wes, thanks for the nightmares over the years.

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Wes Craven:I think there is something about the American dream, the sort of Disneyesque dream, if you will, of the beautifully trimmed front lawn, the white picket fence, mom and dad and their happy children, God-fearing and doing good whenever they can, and the flip side of it, the kind of anger and the sense of outrage that comes from discovering that that’s not the truth of the matter, that gives American horror films, in some ways, kind of an additional rage.

I also take a look at Wes greatest creation, the character of Freddy Krueger.

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Harold Ramis

To a lot of people, the name Harold Ramis won’t really won’t be too familiar.
But to many others, the name is one of the best comedy writer/directors of the 80s and 90s and also did a bit of acting along the way too.

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While the name may not be one that stands out to some people, maybe one of his many acting roles would.

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Yes, Harold Ramis played Dr. Egon Spengler from Ghostbusters.
But Ghostbusters is jumping ahead a little, so before I get too far ahead of myself, allow me to get back to the beginning and remember Harold Ramis correctly.

Born Harold Allen Ramis on November 21, 1944.
Harold was part of a group of comedians that all worked together that became known as The Second City improvisational comedy troupe in the 70s. With the likes of John Candy, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi among many others.
They were a comedy troupe that were taking American comedy into a new direction.

Ramis even became a joke editor for Playboy magazine.
Then in 1974 John Belushi brought Harold Ramis and other Second City performers, including Bill Murray, to New York City to work on The National Lampoon Radio Hour.
In 1976 Ramis became a performer and head writer of the late-night sketch-comedy television series SCTV.

Ramis eventually left SCTV to pursue a film career and wrote a script which would eventually become National Lampoon’s Animal House. Which went on to become the biggest comedy film of 1978.

Ramis next co-wrote the comedy Meatballs, starring Bill Murray and marked the start of a long term friendship between the two. His third film as a writer and his directorial début was Caddyshack relased in 1980.

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Caddyshack went on to become one of the most loved comedies of the 80’s and once again featured Ramis friend, Bill Murray.
So what was next for Harold? In 1984, Ramis collaborated with Dan Aykroyd on the screenplay for Ghostbusters as well as it’s sequel, Ghosbusters II in 1989 in which he also acted alongside his friend Bill Murray.

Which brings me to quite possibly my personal favourite Harold Ramis/Bill Murray team up…

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Written and directed by Harold Ramis, as well as making a cameo too. Groundhog Day is one of the very best comedy films of the 90’s

Alas, the Ramis/Murray friendship soured in the later years. In fact one of the main reasons we never got a Ghostbusters 3 was due to Ramis and Murray falling out in the mid 2000’s.
A friendship that was never fully repaired.

Ramis also wrote and directed the Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal starring Analyze This and its sequel Analyze That from 1999 & 2002 respectively.

In 2010, Ramis contracted an infection that resulted in complications from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis and lost the ability to walk. After relearning to walk he suffered a relapse of the disease in late 2011.

Harold Ramis died of complications of the disease on February 24, 2014 he was 69.

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Harold Ramis:Well, for me, it’s the relationship between comedy and life – that’s the edge I live on, and maybe it’s my protection against looking at the tragedy of it all. It’s seeing life in balance. Comedy and tragedy co-exist. You can’t have one without the other. I’m of the school that anything can be funny, if seen from a comedic point of view.

Please also check out my Groundhog Day overview.

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Roddy Piper.

Wait a second, this is a movie and gaming site…so why am I writing an “In Memorandum” for a wrestler, plus there is also the fact I really dislike wrestling too.

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Well the reason I’m taking time to remember a sadly recently lost wrestler on my movie and gaming site…when I do not like wrestling anyway is because Roddy Piper starred in one of my favourite films of the 80s and even featured in a game I had great fun with a couple years ago.

The film I’m talking of is John Carpenter’s They Live and the game he also featured in was Saint’s Row IV, which borrowed from They Live.

Born Roderick George Toombs on April 17, 1954.
While I’ll acknowledge Roddy was a popular wrestler, as I’ve said, I don’t like wrestling. So I’ll not be talking about his wrestling career here and just his performance in They Live and the Saint’s Row IV references.

John Carpenter’s They Live is an often overlooked classic. Using social satire and our love for consumerism as it’s backdrop. But throwing in aliens disguised as humans to give it a Sci-Fi edge.

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Roddy Piper played Nada. A simple and unassuming man just looking for a job, who accidentally stumbles on the disguised aliens via some sunglasses…don’t question it, just enjoy it.

While Roddy’s acting would never win him any Oscars, his performance in They Live was very convincing and he played the part really well.

He was believable as a gentile giant showing a softer side when needed but then there were the fights and action scenes where he also stood out.
One can not talk about Roddy Piper and They Live without mentioning the awesome back alley brawl he has with his co-star, Keith David.
Seriously, this fight scene is one of my all time favourite fight scenes ever on film.

Roddy also got to show off his acting chops in other films such as; Tough and Deadly, Marked Man, Last to Surrender and many other films as well as several TV show appearances like; Zorro, Superboy, Highlander and many more.

But it’ll always be They Live that I’ll remember Roddy Piper for.

So let’s also talk about his work on Saint’s Row IV.

SR IV

Roddy played himself in this game and he was reunited with his They Live co-star, Keith David, who also played himself as well as playing Saint’s Row founder, Julius.

Saint’s Row IV showed its love for John Carpenter’s They Live too with its many in-jokes and references.
Like having both Roddy and Keith in your crew would spark off conversations between the two actors where they would talk about the infamous fight scene in They Live and argue over who won.

Plus there was a mission in Saint’s Row IV called “He Lives”, where you had to destroy an alien transmission device placed on top of a building…which is what Roddy Piper does in They Live.
Then there was the recreation of that fight in the game too.

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I recall the huge smile on my face when I first played Saint’s Row IV and Roddy appeared, realising Keith David was also in the game all while the game itself had a very They Live vibe to it anyway.
I was more than happy the game made references to the overlooked They Live and gave Roddy Piper some of the limelight too.

I may not have been a fan of Roddy as a wrestler, but I sure did enjoy him as an actor.

Piper died in his sleep after a heart attack on July 31, 2015. He was 61.

Wherever Roddy Piper is right now, I’m sure he’s kicking ass and chewing bubblegum…

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Roddy Piper:When we were shooting that movie [They Live], Keith [David] came over to me and he’s a schooled Julliard actor, a professional. He would help me with my script, while everyone else was saying, “This is just some dumb jock coming to act now.” But he stood up for me, and we had such a bond.

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Sir Christopher Lee

I’ve wanted to do an “In Memorandum” feature on this site for a while. In fact I recently started to put together a list of people we’ve lost over the years to offer my own personal remembrance when I heard the news of the passing of one of cinema’s all time greats…

Sadly its the death of one of my favourite villainous actors and someone I grew up watching; Sir Christopher Lee that is to be my first “In Memorandum”.

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Born Christopher Frank Carandini Lee 27 May 1922 in Belgravia, Westminster, London. Before becoming a cinematic icon, Christopher Lee served in World War II and fought in Winter War, North African Campaign, Allied invasion of Italy, Battle of Monte Cassino as well as others.
After serving in World War II it was Christopher’s cousin, Nicolò Carandini who suggested he should become an actor. His film début was in Terence Young’s Corridor of Mirrors (1947).
Christopher Lee became a British film institution, especially with the Hammer Horror production company. Christopher Lee’s first Hammer Horror film was The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) where he played Frankenstein’s monster alongside Peter Cushing as Baron Victor Frankenstein. This would mark the first time this great coupling happened…but not the last.

Christopher certainly had a long and varied career. Over the last few years, Christopher Lee had a resurgence in his career. Working with the likes of Tim Burton, George Lucas and Peter Jackson. Christopher has even had a heavy metal album; Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross released in 2010…yes Christopher Lee was a heavy metal star. But this was not his first foray into music as Lee sang on The Wicker Man soundtrack as well as numerous other singing projects.

But where do you start to remember a man whose career started way back in 1947?
Well, this is how I’ll always remember him…

Dracula

Some people always favour the great Bela Lugosi when the character of Dracula is brought up and rightly so too.
But for me, the one true Dracula was Christopher Lee.
Fond memories of my childhood flood back of watching Hammer Horror films where Christopher Lee was often teamed up with another legend; Peter Cushing. I even remember listening to the Hammer version of Dracula on vinyl…yes we had horror records back then.

I bet that brings back some memories, eh Mom?

I bet that brings back some memories, eh Mom?

The image of Christopher Lee in full Dracula costume with wide eyes and blood soaked fangs is one that is burnt into my subconscious forever.
But of course Christopher Lee was famous for roles other than Dracula.

How about Francisco Scaramanga, AKA The man within the golden gun.

Scaramanger

One of the best Bond villains along with his sidekick; Nick-Nack.

Or maybe Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man.

Wicker Man

In the late 70’s, Christopher left England for America as he feared he was being typecast as horror villains.
His first American film was the disaster film Airport ’77. Lee would even show his funnier side by appearing on American TV institution, Saturday Night Live. He was even originally offered the Dr. Barry Rumack role in Airplane! which was ultimately played by another legend; Leslie Nielsen (I just want to tell you both good luck. We’re all counting on you.)

Lee certainly broke those horror roots and went on to be one of the most loved and recognised actors ever. Appearing in various films and genres, but never forgetting his Hammer Horror heritage, and every time I would see him in a new role, a smile would emerge on my face as it was great to see someone who had been acting as long as Christopher had and yet still getting roles.

Christopher’s career was still going strong in the 2000’s when he was cast as Saruman in the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy from Peter Jackson as well as Count Dooku in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith from George Lucas.
As well as working with Tim Burton in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Alice in Wonderland and Dark Shadows.

Lee’s favourite performance of his own was in the film Jinnah from 2002 where he played Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Jinnah cover

He was even up for the part of Magneto in the big screen adaptation of the X-Men.
Even the word “prolific” seems too small to describe his career.

But it was not just his acting or singing he became known for.
Lee was appointed a Commander of the Venerable Order of Saint John in 1997.
2001 as part of that year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours, Lee became a Commander of the Order of the British Empire “for services to Drama”.
Lee was also made a Knight Bachelor in 2009 as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Eventually, Lee was knighted by Prince Charles.

OBE

Christopher Lee’s final onscreen performance was The Boss, Mr. President in Angels in Notting Hill (2014). However, the film has (as of writing) not been released.

Christopher Lee died June 7, 2015 in Chelsea, London. He was 93.
Thanks for the years of entertainment Christopher. You will be missed, Prince of Darkness.

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Christopher Lee:When the Second World War finished I was 23 and already I had seen enough horror to last me a lifetime. I’d seen dreadful, dreadful things, without saying a word. Seeing horror depicted on film doesn’t affect me much.

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