Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My Review of Night Creatures

night creatures aka captain clegg hammer poster

At Matt's suggestion, I am writing a review of Night Creatures, a Hammer movie I wasn't familiar with until very recently. Matt had recommended another Hammer movie, Dracula: Prince of Darkness. I set out to find that one on our library system's web site and couldn't, but I did run into a two disc set of Hammer movies (The Hammer Horror Series). A few of the movies on that set were obscure, at least to me. I saw that Night Creatures was included, so I decided to order it just to see something a little different.


If you're into Hammer movies you know what the usual fare is: Vampires/Werewolves/Frankenstein (pretty much the same monsters as Universal) a heck of a lot of fog, a horse and carriage, and some neon orange/red "Hammer blood" spurting around. What's different about Night Creatures is that there are no traditional monsters. Instead there is the legend of "The Marsh Phantoms" who ride their ghost horses around at night.

Retro-Fiend animated GIF

The phantoms are pretty cool for back in the day. (This movie was made in 1962.) There's even this shooting out at you!


So there are ghosts in the story and pirates and the grumpy Captain Collier bugging the townsfolk for tax money on the booze they're smuggling. This story is set in England during the 1700s. There isn't much of that Hammer blood at all, but there are some Hammer trademarks. That fog machine is still rolling, there's a busty exotic woman thrown in for good measure, and there's of course this guy:


Quite the wig, eh? I didn't recognize Peter Cushing at first as he was up preaching to a church full of people and wearing this hair. But the cheekbones were a tip off. You get to see a different side of Peter Cushing in this. He's at times dead serious and at other times mischievous and funny. I thought this was a more complex role for him. Actually, this entire movie was more complex than what I'm used to seeing out of Hammer. I'd call it more of a drama than a horror film.

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It's hard to talk about Night Creatures without giving too much away. There are plenty of twists and turns that I don't want to ruin for you. The basics are...

Back in the 1700s, there's a pirate named Captain Clegg. Captain Clegg has a wife who is attacked and nearly killed by a man on his crew. Clegg is so angry that he treats this man as a traitor and gives him a really nasty punishment (removing his tongue and leaving him for dead on an island). After that gross scene, we're shown the church where Dr. Blyss the minister (Peter Cushing) is giving his sermon and Captain Clegg is buried. The Captain is said to have been hanged.

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We're also told of the mysterious phantoms that are lurking about at night. Some demanding soldiers turn up looking for tax money on the smuggled booze I mentioned earlier and they've brought with them the tongueless dude who was left on the island. They conveniently rescued him. So there's all sorts of drama with the booze smugglers outwitting the soldiers with some pretty clever plans, the tongueless guy looking for revenge, and a little romance to boot. The romance seemed a little contrived, but this is Hammer so we have to have a random plot with two attractive young people and their love life.

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Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. It was dramatic and well thought out. Peter Cushing was very likable! There were a few parts that didn't quite add up to me or weren't altogether believable but I let that slide. I would have ended Night Creatures completely differently if I had written it, but that doesn't mean I don't recommend watching the movie. I just cannot figure out why they went in that direction at the end. My guess is that the writers couldn't figure out how to tie up a bunch of wild plots so they took a simple way out.

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This is an interesting movie to watch even if you're just watching it on mute. The sets are atmospheric and I think atmosphere is Hammer's strong suit. Some of the actors are fascinating to watch, especially this guy:

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That's Michael Ripper and he made some expressions that cracked me up! Between him and Peter Cushing there are a whole lot of amused looks exchanged.

While looking for photos from the movie, I ran across some videos from a band named "Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures". I was actually already familiar with one of their songs from a Halloween mix CD I was sent. It's a good one! "Zombie A Go Go"


I guess the women are the "Night Creatures"? You'll see more Hammer type blood in this short video than in all of Night Creatures.

So, I'd be interested to discuss Night Creatures with anyone who has seen it. If you haven't seen it yet, I think it's worth checking out. Especially for you Hammer fans! I think you'll appreciate seeing something different from the film company.

This is the trailer. It's pretty cool and won't spill too many beans:


14 comments:

  1. I'm really glad you enjoyed this movie! I haven't seen this one yet and it's been on my watch it list for sometime now. I really like Peter Cushing so I look forward to checking it out. :)

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    1. Zena ~ Hey! It's good to hear from you! How have you been? I'm also glad to see a comment on this post because I was having all kinds of blogger glitches last night with duplicates of this post coming up. I did enjoy this one and I think you will too! Peter Cushing is at his most entertaining. Usually, I feel like we only get to see one side of him in movies. It was fun to see him as a complex character that wasn't named Van Helsing. :) Let me know what you think of Night Creatures if you get a chance to see it!

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  2. Justine - Yeah, these movies sound good! Thanks for watching and writing this review! I was a little iffy on this set, but now I'm definitely going to get it - can't wait! Peter Cushing has become one of my all-time favorite horror actors and it's always interesting when he plays it sinister, as in "The Curse of Frankenstein." Oh, it has a "horse and carriage" haha, that was so funny! I also like that it takes place in the past with great clothes - and 70's color makes it more cartoon-like and cool. These movies look like they have great atmosphere. I'll have to read this post again. Talk to you later!

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    1. Matt ~ You're welcome! :) I'm glad you suggested that I review this. At first I wasn't sure what to say, especially after watching the ending. But then I started thinking about all the ways this is different from the usual Hammer movies and how funny some parts were to me. Hey, speaking of different kinds of Hammer movies, I heard they actually made a comedy! Not that some of these aren't comedies to me (Dracula A.D. 1972 I'm talking to you) But this was an intentional comedy! It's called "That's Your Funeral" and it's about an undertaker's business being used as a front for drug smuggling. I think it should be added to my to-watch list.

      I can't vouch for the rest of this Hammer set, because this is the only movie I watched on it. Still, I know you wanted to see "The Evil of Frankenstein" so there will be at least two movies for you on there. I didn't get a chance to watch "The Kiss of the Vampire" which was on the set. I like Hammer vampire movies the best so I might end up checking this set out again.

      I love watching Peter Cushing! He's like Boris Karloff in the way where no matter what role he has, I can just tell he was a nice guy. They both have this grandfatherly thing going on.

      Yeah! They did manage to work a horse and carriage into "Night Creatures"! Even a movie about pirates and navy men can somehow have that worked in. Hammer Films must have really got their money's worth with that horse and carriage. I can't think of a time it doesn't make an appearance in one of their movies.

      I liked that this took place in the distant past too. It's always fun to see different costumes and wigs in a horror movie. It adds a whole other element. Yes, that 70s color sure does pop!

      Let me know what you think once you've watched "Night Creatures". I think this movie is worth a discussion.

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  3. I'm not sure why but I have a hard time getting into Hammer Films but I will admit this looks pretty cool. And I do like Oliver Reed so I just might have to catch this one.

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    1. Bob ~ Really? Well, I would say that Hammer movies require a certain taste since they're a little kitchy. Come to think of it, as a Svengoolie fan you don't mind kitchy horror! So a dislike for kitchiness must not be the reason you don't get into them. A person probably likes or dislikes all of Hammer because it's so stylistic. Hammer movies are like Tim Burton movies in the way where you can definitely tell which creative force was behind them. There's a sort of visual formula.

      Oliver Reed was new to me, but I did get the feeling that he's a big deal after looking him up.

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  4. Always enjoyed those earlier movies.

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    1. Gatekeeper ~ Earlier Hammer movies or just earlier movies in general?

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  5. Some of the Hammer Horrors are excellent. The Devil Rides Out is one of my favourites, especially since the late great Christopher Lee is in it, as he was in many of them.

    Ali

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    1. Ali ~ The Devil Rides Out... Hmm... I don't think I've heard of that one. People are always recommending cool sounding Hammer movies to me that I've never heard of. Just when I think I'm familiar with all their movies I hear about a new one! I'll have to check that out. I'm assuming this is another vampire movie?

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    2. No its not. Lee isn't a vampire in it, he's human. A coven of witches is trying to raise the Devil and Lee is out to stop them. Its quite good.

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    3. Ali ~ Oh, that's a surprising role for him. OK, that sounds worth checking out. I'll see if I can find it...

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