Film Review: Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966)

Also known as: Rasputin (Spain)
Release Date: March 6th, 1966 (UK)
Directed by: Don Sharp
Written by: Anthony Hinds
Music by: Don Banks
Cast: Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Francis Matthews, Richard Pasco, Suzan Farmer, Joss Ackland 

Seven Arts Productions, Hammer Films, 91 Minutes

Review:

“When I go to confession I don’t offer God small sins, petty squabbles, jealousies… I offer him sins worth forgiving!” – Grigori Rasputin

This might not be Christopher Lee’s best film but it is certainly one of his greatest performances of all-time and the greatest out of all the Hammer Films pictures he starred in.

The movie is a very loose biopic about Grigori Rasputin, a man whose legend has grown well beyond reality. Still, the guy was damn interesting and gained control over some powerful, influential people.

Also, his death is pretty legendary but I’m not going to rehash all the details about the man and his death. Go to Wikipedia for that, if you’re unfamiliar with it.

This film doesn’t cover Rasputin’s whole life, it just covers the end of it. It essentially starts with some character building and context to setup who he is and then immediately gets into how he “mesmerized” an influential Russian family, causing some serious harm to the people trapped in the gravitational pull of his orbit.

The film also eventually gets to his death. However, being that this was a superb picture for Hammer, I’m actually kind of shocked that they didn’t find a way to resurrect the madman for a series of sequels that would be a lot more horror heavy. It definitely feels like it was a missed opportunity. Plus, I would’ve liked to have seen what a director like Terence Fisher could’ve done had he gotten a crack at the Hammer version of the Rasputin character.

This is well acted and honestly, it really stands out in that regard, compared to other Hammer movies of the time.

Rasputin: The Mad Monk is one of the best motion pictures that Hammer ever made and I feel like it’s sort of been forgotten, as people tend to gravitate more towards the films that feature Dracula, Frankenstein and vampires in general.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other Hammer horror films with Christopher Lee.

Comic Review: Hellboy, Vol. 2: Wake the Devil

Published: February 3rd, 2004
Written by: Pat Brosseau, Mike Mignola
Art by: Mike Mignola

Dark Horse, 146 Pages

Review:

I wish I would have read this closer to when I finished the previous volume but my comic book queue is massive and it got somewhat disheveled a few months back when I acquired a ton of new stuff from a friend moving.

Anyway, this is a new story, the second in the actual history of Hellboy. Still, this builds off of the first volume and even though he’s dead, Rasputin returns in spiritual form to band together his Nazi followers, who have idolized him like a religious figure since the old days.

The three main villains here are actually the same as the trio that was featured in the first Guillermo del Toro Hellboy movie.

Overall, I love Mignola’s art style and the tone of these stories. I also love Lovecraftian horror and this just hit those notes in the right way.

However, I found this less exciting than the original miniseries. I think that’s because this isn’t as much of a self contained story as it is being used to world build now that Hellboy is evolving into a regularly released comic for Dark Horse.

In the end, this is still a strong chapter in the franchise and it only makes me want to keep reading the series.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: other Hellboy and B.P.R.D. related comics.

Comic Review: Hellboy, Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction

Published: 1994
Written by: John Byrne, Mike Mignola
Art by: Mike Mignola

Dark Horse Comics, 130 Pages

Review:

It’s been a really long time since I have picked up a Hellboy comic, even though I’ve been a massive fan of the character since the ’90s. This was also the first time that I read his debut story.

This four issue story arc was the basis for the plot of the first Hellboy film. While it’s not the exact same story, it features Rasputin as the villain, as well as large, tentacled, Lovecraftian monsters and a very similar origin story for the title character.

While it may sound as if I am trying to oversell this, Hellboy: Seed of Destruction is perfection in the comic book medium.

Featuring the incredible duo of comic book legends John Byrne and Mike Mignola, this earliest Hellboy story was superb on every level. The writing was terrific, the dialogue was fantastic and Mignola’s art style creates a perfect tone for this tale.

When things are this good, I want others to experience them fresh. So I don’t want to spoil too much and would rather others go pick this up, read it and be as surprised and impressed by it as I was.

Now this may not be everyone’s cup of tea and my opinions are my own but I think it’d be hard to deny that this is a solid comic book, through and through, and it does exactly what it set out to achieve.

That being said, I can’t wait to jump into volume two.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: other Hellboy and B.P.R.D. related comics.