5. The House That Dripped Blood (1971) – Peter Duffell
One of the best horror anthologies of its time is The House That Dripped Blood, a film remarkably consistent in quality throughout. Most anthologies seem to come packaged with one throwaway segment, but this one is pretty solid in comparison. Alas, the only slight drawback is that Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing do not appear in the same segments together; on the bright side, we therefore get double the time with at least one of them on screen.
Here we have four arresting stories, all centering around an old house with a history of tragedy. When a detective from Scotland Yard comes to investigate a problem at the creepy mansion, the tales are related to him by one of the locals. Cushing plays a quiet bachelor who moves to the house to listen to quiet music and read his books, but finds himself haunted by the memory of a dead woman – a memory which threatens to become tangible and deadly. Lee takes a turn as a single father with a young daughter who, despite her seemingly perfect behavior, he keeps under strict orders not to play with toys or go outside; when a nosy nanny tries to push those boundaries, she soon discovers why they existed in the first place. All of these stories are winners, making this a classic anthology.
4. Horror Express (1972) – Eugenio Martín
This intriguing bit of sci-fi horror is yet another reimagining of a popular horror theme (see “The Thing From Another World,” “The Thing,” “Alien,” etc.) – an invisible, menacing foreign presence that can act through anyone at any given time. In such a scenario, no one can be trusted, paranoia grows, and tension inevitably boils over into violence. In Horror Express, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Telly Savalas join forces to make this an especially enjoyable outing.
The setting for this mystery is a Trans-Siberian train from Shanghai to Moscow, and Sir Christopher Lee is on board – he plays an anthropologist who’s transporting a mysterious fossil discovery which he is keen to keep secret and hidden. But other nosy passengers can’t stand the suspense and set out to uncover the covert cargo. Once unleashed, the spirit of this fearsome fossil wreaks havoc on the train, seeming to possess unsuspecting victims in order to commit murder. With every other passenger potentially the next killer, things really go off the rails. Cushing plays Dr. Wells, a fellow researcher who is neither hero nor villain in this particular film; still, he makes an indelible impression, as always. It’s a cinematic trip you won’t forget.
3. The Mummy (1959) – Terence Fisher
Hammer’s The Mummy is a classic time capsule of horror perfectly preserved for future generations to admire. Peter Cushing’s performance is as fresh as ever no matter how many times we rediscover it, and though Christopher Lee’s face is largely kept under wraps, his talent is undisguisable. Together, the two create a film that remains fresh and alive even after all these decades.
While this story is a familiar one, Hammer’s take on it is creative and exciting. Aided by dynamic acting and beautiful photography, The Mummy is an irreplaceable entry in the horror movie canon. Cushing plays archaeologist John Banning, who unwittingly unleashes a killer mummy on the world while in search of ancient Egyptian secrets. Christopher Lee plays the mummy, producing a chilling effect on the audience even through his layers of bandages. It’s a must-see for horror fans.
2. Horror of Dracula (1958) – Terence Fisher
While giving Christopher Lee a role for which he would forever be famous, Horror of Dracula also made an invaluable contribution to the catalog of great vampire movies. While this isn’t the most extravagant production of Dracula ever made, it’s nonetheless unforgettable – largely due to the larger-than-life personalities of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.
Cushing is Doctor Van Helsing, Lee is Count Dracula, and the two face off in epic fashion. Hammer has no shortage of takes on the Dracula story, but this is the classic original tale. Having set his sights on Jonathan Harker and his poor fiancée Lucy, Dracula himself soon becomes the target of Van Helsing’s cunning experience. The Doctor must use all his powers to defeat Dracula before Lucy’s life is lost. Horror of Dracula is a bona fide classic for many reasons, and this dynamic acting duo is a big one.
1. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) – Terence Fisher
Could there possibly be a better showcase for these two heroes of horror than a Sherlock Holmes film? This is often called the greatest Sherlock Holmes adaptation of them all, and we don’t find any reason to dispute that claim. Cushing plays the legendary detective, and Lee takes a turn as Sir Henry Baskerville in this first color version of the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Though we can only imagine a world in which the two played Holmes and Watson, The Hound of the Baskervilles is a fantastic piece of cinema nonetheless.
This is a favorite of the many Holmes mysteries, and for good reason – not only is it a compelling mystery, but it’s also tinged with enough Gothic horror flavor to make it the perfect vehicle for Cushing and Lee. The great detective catches the scent of a supposed multi-generational curse hanging over the family of the Baskervilles in the form of a huge, ferocious hound. Holmes has his doubts about the legends of a devilish dog, but he has to move quickly in order to save the current Baskervilles who feel at risk. Sherlock may be hot on the trail of the hellish hound, but he’s not the only one with a nose for blood. The Hound of the Baskervilles is simply unforgettable.