Rasputin: the Mad Monk (1966) Hammer’s fictional account of Grigori Rasputin (1869-1916) and his influence over the Russian monarchy. Christopher Lee plays the title character, a holy man with the ability to heal with his hands and hypnotize with his eyes, but he only uses these great gifts to drink for free and force women to have sex with him. That is until he meets Barbara Shelley, a socialite who went slumming with friends one night and ended up under the hypnotic powers of Rasputin. She has access to the Czar’s son, and on Rasputin’s wish, she injures the boy and then tells the Czarina that she knows of a monk who has healing power in his hands. It is at this time that Rasputin uses his powers to secure his place in the Russian hierarchy. Chopped off hands, acid in the face, assassination attempts and a powerful performance by the great Christopher Lee make this a top notch Hammer flick. In the theater, kids were given fake Rasputin beards with admission.
The Devil Rides Out aka The Devil’s Bride (1968) Christopher Lee plays a rich Duke in the 1920s. He and a friend visit the home of a third friend unannounced, and unknowingly crash a Satanic sacrifice. They break up the party, and later on break up another one to save a pretty girl who was under a spell. The spells come from the evil Mocata (Charles Gray, who played Blowfeld once in a 007 flick) who has the power to impose his will on anyone unfortunate enough to gaze into his eyes. Luckily for the good guys, Christopher Lee knows more counter-Satanic spells than anyone you ever met who’s not a Satanist himself. Aside from a few silly, but forgivable special effects, this was a top notch devil worship story, with a screenplay from Richard Matheson and directed by Hammer’s top dog, Terence Fisher. That is until the ending, which I thought was weak, putting a slight tarnish on an otherwise above average film.