Christopher Lee died last week. He was 93 years old.
Lee was an actor with a career that spanned nearly 70 years and had become known recently for playing Saruman and Count Dooku in the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars films. And so a new generation will remember him as that menacing figure with deep voice. And that is an amazing feat in and of itself.
But I remember him from the old Hammer horror films in the late 60s and early 70s. The ones that got played on on Saturday afternoons on the Creature Double Feature. The ones that my mother said were too bloody and made her sick to watch. The ones my grandmother said would warp my brain if I watched too many in a row. The ones I thought were great.
“Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.” — Christopher Lee
Lee, along with Peter Cushing, was a mainstay of those films. They were low budget, weird knockoff Draculas and Frankensteins and all manner of mad scientists. Long before I could name a “real” celebrity I could recognize Christopher Lee by voice and face. Whenever I saw his name pop up in a credits sequence I knew it was going to be something I was going to enjoy. Not that it was going to be good exactly, I knew that the film he stared in back then were of…let’s say varying quality. But they were creepy, cool and scary. I knew it would be fun and different.
Christopher Lee had been ill for a long time so the news of his death was not unexpected. Still you grow accustomed to those names and faces you saw when you were young. Some part of me always assumes that they will be around forever trapped in amber, never changing.
Its funny how I am always amazed and disappointed when that does not happen.
So when the headline read that day last week that Christopher Lee had died at the age of 93 I found myself silently mourning a man I never really knew but always had known.
And I felt the need to watch the Horror of Dracula in the dark.