Peter Cushing

Peter Cushing is my favorite actor. Hammer’s premier horror actor (even more so than Christopher Lee in England) for decades, he is little known now. He had 128 movie and TV roles and was a TV star before his first big Hammer role as Dr. Frankenstein in The Curse of Frankenstein. He played the role five more times for Hammer (Revenge of Frankenstein, Evil of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Created Woman, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell). Currently four of his movies are available on instant play.

The Flesh and the Fiends

1. The Flesh and the Fiends (1960) – “As full-time grave-robbers, William Burke (George Rose) and William Hare (Donald Pleasence) work tirelessly to supply eccentric university professor Dr. Robert Knox (Peter Cushing) with cadavers for his anatomy classes. But when supply starts running desperately short of demand, they’ll have to get creative to fill the doctor’s orders. Based on actual events, this creepy story details how two small-time crooks became murderers”.

Cushing’s performance is fine as the arrogant Dr. Knox (though perhaps a little too similar to his Frankenstein portrayal) but Donald Pleasence steals the show as the graverobber Hare.

The Blood Beast Terror

2. Blood Beast Terror (1967) – “Obsessed etymologist Dr. Mallinger (Robert Flemyng) creates a giant, blood-sucking mutant moth with the uncanny ability to transform itself into a beautiful but lonely woman (Wanda Ventham). When the evil doctor decides to create a mate for his moth lady, there are now two murderous moths stalking the small town in which he lives. The only one who can stop the bad bugs in this stylish thriller is the brilliant Inspector Quennell (Peter Cushing).”

Peter Cushing himself felt this was the worst movie that he ever did though I think Land of the Minotaur was worse.

Nothing but the Night

3. Nothing but the Night (1973) – “When elderly orphanage caretakers lose their lives through odd suicides and accidents, inspector Charles Bingham (Christopher Lee) and forensics expert Sir Mark Ashley (Peter Cushing) investigate the situation and unravel a diabolical conspiracy involving sadistic cult members. Based on a novel by John Blackburn, this movie masterfully weaves together elements of crime, thriller and horror genres”

Christopher Lee and  Peter Cushing’s performances are the highlight of this somewhat silly story. This film was the first and only film made by Christopher Lee’s production company. This is a must watch for old horror movie buffs as this film is not currently available on DVD in the US.
I, Monster

4. I, Monster (1973) – “Dr. Charles Marlowe (Christopher Lee) is on the verge of a medical breakthrough: He’s devised a drug capable of releasing people’s deepest inhibitions. But when the good doctor uses the drug on himself, he releases something else — a horrifying alter ego named Mr. Blake. With each transformation, Blake becomes more powerful and hideous. Dr. Marlowe is caught in a deadly struggle with himself in this thriller co-starring Peter Cushing

Hilariously this is simply Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. All the secondary names (such as Cushing’s Utterson) are taken from Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel but they changed the name of the protagonist/antagonist for some reason. Perhaps Amicus felt Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was too old or too often filmed to be profitable. Hammer’s earlier The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (also with Christopher Lee) did not fare well at the box office.

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