SO TODAY is of course our new theme, ‘Horrible Death Wednesday’, where we highlight some of our favourite dispatches for a multitude of memorable characters in Cushing’s film. It’s a pretty good line-up if I say so myself, featuring one film I’ve regularly mentioned as a personal best, another that featured in my ‘Choicest Cushing’ article and one that I haven’t as of yet praised- but will shortly.
FIRST UP is the aftermath of the titular creature’s death from ‘Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell’. During the final moments, the creature (having of course been on the rampage) is set upon by the inmates of the asylum and quite literally ripped apart. A particularly gruesome moment, it’s one of a number of gory sequences that feel at odds in what is essentially a throwback film. None the less, it feels right in what is an exceptionally dark film (even for the Hammer Frankenstein series) and a fitting end to one of the more sympathetic creatures in the series.
NEXT UP is a sequence from a film I’ve regularly mentioned to be a personal favourite, though haven’t as of yet written anything substantial on it. Christopher Lee’s death in The Skull has long been one of my favourites and I think it’s down to the very subtle elements of black comedy in the scene. Bar one sequence at the opening, Lee and Cushing only ever appear playing Billiards together, so it’s little surprise when Cushing batters Lee over the head with a ball. Unlike the above sequence, there’s very little on-screen gore but it’s the context that makes this particularly gruesome. Subotsky had a particular flare for introducing gruesome elements into his films, but somehow instructing directors to keep the high levels of violence off screen (the ‘Blind Man’ sequence in Tales from the Crypt springs to mind). This is a prime example.
FINALLY we have a sequence from The Mummy. The Mummy is full of a number of great death sequences, Daddy Banning’s and Mehemet Bay’s spring to mind, but today’s is the death of Cushing’s uncle played by Raymond Huntley. Huntley is a familiar British character actor and he’s such a friendly and likable character that his death, strangled as Lee’s titular walking cadaver crashes through a door, proves to have something of a resonance to it.
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