True Confessions – Star Wars & Peter Cushing

I went to see Star Wars for my thirteenth birthday

Star Wars

 

Obviously, I was enthralled and had seen nothing like it before. I already loved science fiction, having seen mostly the Heston ones on television (Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, and The Omega Man). However, none of that is why I went to see Star Wars.

Growing up, my first real love wasn’t science fiction or fantasy but horror. I took every opportunity to watch horror movies at home. I loved the Universal classics but my favorite were the relatively new Hammer horror movies. Peter Cushing was my absolute favorite actor with Christopher Lee running a close second. My mom would often watch these with me on weekend afternoons.

One fantastic day, I saw that a new Peter Cushing had come to our local theater and it was rated PG. I had never seen a Peter Cushing movie at the theater before. I was thrilled and asked my mother if we could go see it. She told me no – which she rarely ever did. I can only think the title put her off. That movie was “From Beyond the Grave” and I did not get to see it until I was an adult.

Just before my thirteenth birthday, another new Peter Cushing movie opened at our local theater. That movie was Star Wars. My mom, sister, two of my best friends, and I had a wonderful time. The Empire Strikes Back was even better, even though the Miami Herald spoiled the important plot twist ON THE MORNING THE MOVIE OPENED.

When Phantom Menace was coming out, my wife and father-in-law waited in a line overnight to get tickets. Obviously, crushing disappointment followed that decision. I think that was the last time we ever waited in a serious line for movie tickets.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Still my fifty-year-old self is much the same as my fifteen-year-old self and I am eagerly awaiting Episode VII. Anyway, what reminded me of all of this was the cover of a book I saw in Barnes & Noble. To wit:

Tarkin

 

Yes, that is Peter Cushing’s likeness on a book jacket some twenty years after his passing. By the way, I was lucky enough to catch a few of his movies on the big screen besides Star Wars, though their quality was uneven. I have seen Sword of the Valiant, Top Secret, Arabian Adventure, Shock Waves, and The House of the Long Shadows (w/ Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, and John Carradine) in the theater.

I also got to see Christopher Lee (92) in The Hobbit movies. Yay Me!

Twins of Evil

Twins of Evil is currently available on Amazon Prime.

Twins of Evil (1971)

“Frieda and Maria, orphaned identical twins are sent to live in a small village with Puritan relatives. But once there Frieda is turned into a vampire by the bite from Count Karnstein. In HD.”

Once again borrowing from AIP Poe lessons, the British Hammer poster is titled Twins of Dracula to tie it in to to their Christopher Lee Dracula pictures. Hammer would go a step further in their The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) by adding bookend scenes involving Dracula.

Twins of Evil is the final film in Hammer’s trilogy of Karnstein pictures based (sort of) on Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla. The Vampire Lovers (1970) starred Ingrid Pitt as Carmilla/Marcilla/Mircalla Karnstein and featured Peter Cushing as General von Spielsdorf. It is pretty good and at least tries a little to work with some of the book. Carmilla seems a far more sympathetic vampire than Dracula.

This was followed by Lust for a Vampire with Yutte Stensgaard filling in as Carmilla/Mircalla Karnstein. Ingrid Pitt turned down the role after reading the script. Ralph Bates took Peter Cushing’s role when he had to bow out. Jimmy Sangster replaced director Terence Fisher at the last minute. Mike Raven’s voice ended up being dubbed by Valentine Dyall. This was practically a cursed production. The only thing noteworthy about Lust is the most bizarre use of a bad song in cinema history – the scene is positively surreal.

Twins of Evil is only tangential to Carmilla and is set in the Puritan era, which seems prior to the first two films. Katya Wyeth appears briefly as the Countess Mircalla to tie the films together (Ingrid Pitt again declined). Damien Thomas is the evil Count Karnstein but, depending on how you view Twins of Evil, the star is either Peter Cushing as Gustav Weil or the Collinson twins as Frieda and Maria Gellhorn.

Twins of Evil represents a wonderful melding of Hammer’s traditional vampire stories with the then fairly recent Witchfinder General. Count Karnstein may be the true villain but it is clear that the witchhunter Gustav Weil matches him in evil.

Although Christopher Lee is better known now, Peter Cushing was always Hammer’s biggest star. In spite of being in some terrible films (and plenty of good ones), Cushing never gives a bad performance. Here he has a juicy role as the overzealous Gustav Weil, a stern Puritan with a penchant for burning witches.

Mary and Madeleine Collinson were chosen as Playboy’s Playmate(s) of the month in October 1970, the first identical twin Playmates. The producers of Twins of Evil saw this and built a film around them, dropping The Vampire Virgins premise for the third Karnstein film. Mary and Madeleine were eighteen when Twins was filmed and they have an innocent, ethereal look about them. They are alternately dressed in adorable, fancy matching outfits and suggestive negligees. The twins are quite charming on screen. Their accents must have been thick though, as Ingrid Pitt was in Countess Dracula, their voices are dubbed.

Damien Thomas’ Count Karnstein does well to hold his own against Cushing’s Gustav Weil. Horror character actor Dennis Price (Horror of Frankenstein, Theater of Blood) has a brief juicy role as Dietrich.

The biggest surprise I found was how good Kathleen Byron was as Katy Weil, Gustav’s wife. She had a very long career from her debut in 1938, through the Michael Powell films of the 40s and 50s (Sister Ruth in Black Narcissus), and on into 2001. She played Lady Waddington in The Elephant Man (1980), Mrs. Goddard in Emma (1996), and the elder Mrs. Ryan in Saving Private Ryan (1998).

If you like Twins of Evil, I cannot recommend Synapse’s Blu-Ray. Not only does it present the best picture (though Amazon’s version is quite good), but there is also an 84-minute documentary on the making of Twins of Evil and a featurette on the few surviving Hammer props.

People Watch: Roy Stewart, who appears briefly here as bodyguard Joachim, played tiny parts in a number of Hammer productions: The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, She, Carry on Up the Jungle, and Prehistoric Women. He later got to play Quarrel in Live and Let Die and Sentor in I, Claudius.

Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors

Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors is currently available on instant Netflix.

Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965)

“Ominous prophet Dr. Schreck (Peter Cushing) informs five train passengers — including art critic Franklyn Marsh (Christopher Lee) and physician Bob Carroll (Donald Sutherland) — about the grisly details of their imminent deaths in this anthology of eerie vignettes. Schreck tells Marsh that he will be maimed; that Carroll’s new bride has a supernatural secret life; and that architect Jim Dawson (Neil McCallum) will be attacked by a werewolf.”

“The more exact translation would be terror, an unfortunate misnomer for I am the mildest of men.”

Amicus Productions found a niche alongside better-known Hammer Films by setting most of their horror films in the modern era. Most of their horror films are of the portmanteau variety, telling a series of four or five stories in a framework linked by a mysterious character.

Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors is the first horror movie from Amicus. The framing sequences work very well but the individual stories suffer a bit from being rather simplistic. This is evident in the names of the stories, “Werewolf”, “Creeping Vine”, “Voodoo”, “Disembodied Hand”, and “Vampire”. Later Amicus productions would improve screen time by limiting the stories to four.

All of the stories in this and Amicus’ other portmanteau films are horror but none of them are intended to be scary. Most are told in a rather tongue-in-cheek fashion. I find all of the Amicus films to be entertaining but avoid them if you are looking for actual frights.

Another part of the Amicus formula would be to pack as many stars as possible into each film. Peter Cushing is a delight as the mysterious Dr. Schreck, who tells the fortunes that form the basis for each story. Christopher Lee is fun as an irascible art critic. Michael Gough appears as an artist in Lee’s segment. A very young Donald Sutherland anchors the vampire story. Look for Bernard Lee, ‘M’ in the James Bond series until Judi Dench took over, as Hopkins in the plant story.

Strangely, one of the reasons I most recommend this film is that it has never received a DVD or Blu-Ray release in the United States. This may be the only chance you get to see it. Unfortunately this is a pan and scan (not widescreen) transfer and is in relatively poor condition. It is better than VHS quality but not quite up to today’s standards.

People Watch: Isla Blair debuted here as ‘pretty girl’ in the ‘Disembodied Hand” storyline. She would go on to a long and distinguished career in British television (The Final Cut, A Touch of Frost, Fall of Eagles). She has been married for the last 44 years to actor Julian Glover and even played wife to his character in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Sequel-itis: Amicus, the studio behind Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, found that the multi-story horror format worked so well for them that they spent the next decade churning out portmanteau films. Dr. Terror was followed by Torture Garden (1967), The House that Dripped Blood (1971), Asylum (1972), Tales from the Crypt (1972), Vault of Horror (1973), From Beyond the Grave (1974) and finally The Monster Club (1980). All of them except Vault of Horror and The Monster Club starred Peter Cushing.

Dr. Phibes Rises Again

Dr. Phibes Rises Again is currently on instant Netflix and Amazon Prime

Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)

“The eminent Dr. Phibes (Vincent Price) awakens from several years of suspended animation and heads to Egypt with his mute assistant (Valli Kemp) and the corpse of his dead wife, determined to track down the stolen papyrus scrolls he needs to bring his spouse back to life. In this sequel to The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Phibes is up to his usual tricks, murdering people in strange and heinous ways; meanwhile, a team of inspectors is hot on his heels.”

The Abominable Dr. Phibes is an absolute classic and is probably Vincent Price’s best film, though not his best performance (Witchfinder General). Everything worked perfectly from Price’s Dr. Phibes sparring with Joseph Cotton’s Dr. Vesalius to the comic relief of Terry-Thomas to the assistance of Virginia North as Vulnavia to the wonderful traps.

Rarely is a sequel as good as the original. Dr. Phibes Rises Again is not an exception but is close enough to receive a firm recommendation. Dr. Phibes opens with a nice recap of the end of the first film, narrated by Gary Owens. Vincent Price as Phibes is fantastic as always, in spite of periodically being silent and encased in gruesome makeup.

Virginia North was pregnant so Valli Kemp was tapped to play the silent Vulnavia. Her initial appearance in a kaleidoscopic tunnel is wonderful. She was Miss Australia in 1970 and this was her first film. She is certainly attractive but is not as good a Vulnavia as Virginia North. Shortly after this Miss Kemp abandoned her film career for one in art and fashion.

AIP was desperately trying to groom Robert Quarry to be the next big horror star. They featured him in two Count Yorga films before this and Deathmaster, Sugar Hill, and Madhouse after this. While a decent actor, it never really worked out. He is good but not great as Phibes’ nemesis, Dr. Biederbeck.

While on board the ship there is a brief cameo from horror icon Peter Cushing as the Captain. Cushing was originally slated to play Dr. Vesalius in the first film but had to bow out. I think he would have made a fine Vesalius or even Biederbeck.

As in the first film, the deaths here are all hysterically over-the-top and campy. I hate to describe any of them as each is a delight but I’ll just mention that the first involves clockwork snakes. The odd mixture of art deco and what can best be described as steampunk (if Phibes had not actually predated the term) makes the Phibes movies a visual feast.

Although The Abominable Dr. Phibes is not available, Dr. Phibes Rises Again works as a standalone movie. There were many attempts to mount a third Dr. Phibes movie, which Vincent Price was interested in doing. Unfortunately none of them got off the ground.

People Watch: Caroline Munro is uncredited but she plays Victoria Phibes in both movies. She would go on to star in a slew of genre films: Dracula A.D. 1972, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter, At the Earth’s Core, Starcrash, and Maniac. She also played Naomi in The Spy who Loved Me.

Also look for John Thaw briefly as Shavers. He would go on to become famous as Inspector Morse from 1987-2000.

The Dark Knight, Punisher, Luke Cage and YouTube

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of fan-made stuff on YouTube.

* Try The Dark Knight & 60s Robin for a funnier approach to The Dark Knight Rises. The same people also put out a mumblemouth version of Bane but since that’s what we get in The Dark Knight Rises, it isn’t much of a parody. Yes they cleared up a lot of Bane’s dialogue (in The Dark Knight Rises) but I missed quite a bit of what he said on my first viewing. Maybe it was all a plan for repeat business.

* Try Batman: Dead End for a much more serious fan film. This was released at ComiCon in 2003 and was so well received that the creator (Sandy Collora) created another fan short, World’s Finest as well as directing an interesting feature film, Hunter Prey.

* So you say you enjoyed Thomas Jane as The Punisher but liked the grittiness of Punisher: War Zone? Try the short Dirty Laundry on Youtube.

* Isaiah Mustafa (The Old Spice guy) cut a serious albeit fake trailer for Luke Cage. I think he looks good in it but I’d really like to see Michael Jai White as Luke Cage (or T’Challa).

* I do have to give Isaiah props though for he also cut this silly video combining his Luke Cage persona with his Old Spice commercials.

* I also got to enjoy watching an old Christopher Lee/Peter Cushing film that I hadn’t seen since I was a child. Night of the Big Heat (Island of the Burning Damned here in the U.S.) turned out to be nowhere near as good as I remembered it being but was still fun.

I noticed Youtube had a number of other ‘abandoned’ films (Island of Terror, The Legend of the Werewolf, The Uncanny, Blood Beach, etc.). I cannot imagine that they are out of copyright or Mill Creek and all the other public domain moviehouses would have cranked out DVDs but no one appears to be defending the rights and there has never been a U.S. DVD release for any of those films.

Edgar Rice Burroughs & John Carter

I grew up reading Edgar Rice Burroughs. I ate up the adventures of Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, The Land that Time Forgot, and At the Earth’s Core series before moving on to weightier stuff (namely Frank Herbert’s Dune).

Well Disney’s John Carter opens today. I had actually thought to do a week’s worth of posts on the myriad of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ films. There are 68 films and TV series credited to him since 1917 (57 of them are Tarzan movies and TV series). Sadly there are only two ERB movies available on instant Netflix and bizarrely neither of them is a Tarzan feature.

I’m disappointed that Disney dropped the “of Mars” from the John Carter title. I’m not sure whether this is because Mars seems quaint now or because “Mars Needs Moms” bombed so badly at the box office.

At the Earth’s Core (1976) – Rated PG

“When absentminded Dr. Abner Perry (Peter Cushing) and his young American protégé, macho David Innes (Doug McClure), develop the Iron Mole, a contraption that cuts straight through solid rock, they have no idea what they’re letting themselves in for in this campy sci-fi fantasy. The two bore their way from Victorian England to the center of the Earth, where they encounter a lost world of prehistoric beasts and their human slaves.”

“You cannot mesmerize me! I’m British!”

Sadly this was to be Amicus Studios last film. I really loved their horror anthology films. At the Earth’s Core is good cheesy fun. The special effects budget is non-existent but they still do a nice job with the sets and the vehicle. The rubber-suited monsters are not at all convincing. It’s a shame they didn’t hire Ray Harryhausen like Hammer did for “One Million Years B.C.”.

Peter Cushing is a delight but unfortunately plays a somewhat dotty scientist not terribly dissimilar from his portrayal in the two Doctor Who movies. Cushing is much more enjoyable when he plays arrogant scientists. Doug McClure is fine as our leading man. He was the Thomas Jane of his generation – neither a great actor nor a big star but a solid reliable leading man with some recognition. He is parodied often in The Simpsons under the name ‘Troy McClure’. Caroline Munro is very easy on the eyes but does not have much else to do here.

Princess of Mars (2009) – Not rated

“After a devastating enemy ambush leaves soldier John Carter (Antonio Sabato Jr.) fighting for his life, he awakens to discover that the experimental treatment designed to save him has inexplicably transported him to Mars. On the red planet, Carter finds himself endowed with extraordinary powers — and in the middle of a feud between warring alien races. Traci Lords also stars in this sci-fi adventure based on the novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs.”

I previously discussed this film at length here. The gist of it was that this was the first movie from Asylum that I had even considered remotely watchable. That is not to say that it is good by any means but simply tolerable. The source material for this is the same as John Carter.

Peter Cushing – Horror Movie Month

Peter Cushing is my favorite horror actor. He is the only actor I have seen who properly captures the arrogance of Baron Frankenstein (which is good since he portrays Frankenstein six times for Hammer).

Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965)

Ominous prophet Dr. Schreck (Peter Cushing) informs five train passengers — including art critic Franklyn Marsh (Christopher Lee) and physician Bob Carroll (Donald Sutherland) — about the grisly details of their imminent deaths in this anthology of eerie vignettes. Schreck tells Marsh that he will be maimed; that Carroll’s new bride has a supernatural secret life; and that architect Jim Dawson (Neil McCallum) will be attacked by a werewolf.

Of all of Cushing’s films, this is the one I’d most recommend watching. Not because it’s the best but because it has never had a U.S. DVD or Blu-Ray release. While this appears to be sourced from a videotape transfer, the quality isn’t too bad and once it leaves Netflix you won’t be able to catch it anywhere.

Having said this, Dr. Terror is pretty standard fare for a portmanteau film. Cushing and Christopher Lee are wonderful and a very young Donald Sutherland is fun to watch. The movie is enjoyable but nothing special.

 

Frankenstein Must be Destroyed (1969)

After a drunk wanders into and disrupts his secret lab, Dr. Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) decides he must find a new place to set up shop. Conveniently, he finds an innocent young girl (Veronica Carlson) who happens to have a boyfriend (Simon Ward) employed by the local hospital. Seeing his opportunity, Dr. Frankenstein kidnaps the couple and forces them to take part in a dangerous brain-swapping experiment.

Cushing takes center stage here and this iteration of Frankenstein is his most ruthless. Gone are the almost paternal qualities he had in Frankenstein Created Woman and with one notable exception, his icy performance here is marvelous. The exception is that for some odd reason, there is an implied rape subplot shoehorned into the movie. Judging from character reactions after the incident, it appears as though this was added after normal filming.

The Vampire Lovers (1970) – Rated R

Fanged femme fatale Mircalla Karnstein (Ingrid Pitt) slakes her bloodlust for mortals of girlish figures in this Hammer horror story that has the 19th-century noblewoman stalking the Austrian countryside, bewitching young daughters at every turn. Appearing first as Marcilla, then as Carmilla, the insatiable siren steals women’s hearts and leaves ruin in her wake, but in grieving General von Spielsdorf (Peter Cushing), she may have met her match.

The Vampire Lovers is definitely an acquired taste. Here Hammer films reaches the 1970s and says goodbye to cleavage and hello to nudity! This is where they also play with the “exotic” concept of lesbianism. Peter Cushing is in fine form but is not in much of the film. Ingrid Pitt is the star here and is quite engaging as Mircalla/Marcilla/Carmilla as is Madeline Smith as Emma. The movie is quaint and often comes across as soft porn with the sex scenes removed.

Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) – Rated PG

Devil-worshipping hippies revive Dracula (Christopher Lee) in this groovy 1970s Hammer Studios horror flick set in London. Thinking Dracula’s one cool cat, Johnny (Christopher Neame) and his psychedelic gang resurrect the count. The powerful creature of the night awakens with a mission: to destroy his archnemesis Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing). It’s good vs. evil as Van Helsing faces Dracula in a thrilling final showdown.

Hammer realized after five period Draculas and countless period horror films that audiences wanted modern scares. The idea of bringing Dracula to a modern setting is not a bad one and the opening scene set in 1872 is pretty exciting. Having Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing reprise their roles as Dracula and Van Helsing was a no-brainer so why is this movie not a classic?

The script is hilarious and appears to be written by someone middle-aged who fears what the younger generation is up to. The counterculture is depicted in a mind-boggling fashion and a band is featured in an extended sequence that serves no purpose in the film. Christopher Lee is barely in the film but at least has some dialogue this time out. The fashions are marvelous – too bad the film isn’t.

Price without Poe – Horror Movie Month

The prolific and fun Vincent Price did not always star in Poe adaptations. I’ve previously discussed his performance in the delightful Theater of Blood as well as The Fly and House on Haunted Hill (all still on instant Netflix and recommended).

Madhouse (1974) – Rated PG

Down on his luck and trying to keep a grip on his precarious mental health, has-been horror-film icon Paul Toombes (Vincent Price) takes a stab at revitalizing his career by starring in a television series based on his famous silver screen persona, Dr. Death. But when people start dying in gruesome ways that resemble Dr. Death’s handiwork, Toombes suspects the evil character has completely taken over his mind. Jim Clark directs this thriller.

Madhouse isn’t bad and makes good use of some Price stock footage from the Poe movies. It is a bit heavy-handed and obvious but guest-stars a gracious Peter Cushing. Robert Quarry is here as well. Quarry was groomed to be a new horror star but his Count Yorga films never really caught on. Madhouse is a mixed bag – fun but not nearly as fun as Dr. Phibes Rises Again, which features much of the same cast.

Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972) – Rated PG

The eminent Dr. Phibes (Vincent Price) awakens from several years of suspended animation and heads to Egypt with his mute assistant (Valli Kemp) and the corpse of his dead wife, determined to track down the stolen papyrus scrolls he needs to bring his spouse back to life. In this sequel to The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Phibes is up to his usual tricks, murdering people in strange and heinous ways; meanwhile, a team of inspectors is hot on his heels.

Both Dr. Phibes movies are fun with a capital F. The beautiful art deco set design, clockwork contraptions that would have been considered steampunk if they hadn’t predated the term, Campy, quirky deaths, and a wonderful turn by Vincent Price add up to fun, fun, fun. Peter Cushing has what amounts to a cameo here as do several other 60s stars. Robert Quarry is not as good as Joseph Cotten from the first movie but is adequate.

Witchfinder General (1968)

Set in 17th-century England, this chilling tale follows corrupt official Matthew Hopkins (Vincent Price), who claims an ability to discover witches. But he uses his power to gain money and favors from people he’s fingered in return for declaring them innocent. When he arrests and tortures Father Lowes (Rupert Davies), Lowes’s niece’s fiancé (Ian Ogilvy) decides to put an end to Hopkins’s sleazy practices and goes on a quest to seek vengeance.

Witchfinder General is a bit odd. It tries to say some important things about a particular era in English history while flirting with exploitation. This is actually Vincent Price’s best performance but I need to warn you that the film is not fun – it actually comes across as quite ugly, especially for the era. The other actors aren’t bad but this is another Price showpiece.

Last Man on Earth (1964)

A plague has wiped out most of mankind, and those who survived have become bloodthirsty vampires. The only “normal” human left on earth, Dr. Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) — who was spared by a twist of fate — spends his days methodically hunting down the undead mutants and his nights barricaded against their attacks. But when he meets the beautiful but contaminated Ruth, he discovers a secret that will unravel what’s left of his existence.

If this plot description sounds familiar, it is because it is based on Richard Matheson’s I am Legend and was later filmed as The Omega Man (also on instant) and I am Legend and I am Omega. Will Smith is great in I am Legend but the CGI is pretty goofy, Charlton Heston is good in The Omega Man but the movie is bizarrely groovy, and I am Omega is just plain bad.

Last Man on Earth is an Italian production and is very atmospheric. It is in black and white and Price gives a somewhat restrained performance as the titular character.

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.