Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • X
  • Biography, Drama
  • 1966
  • 87 mins

Rasputin The Mad Monk

Rasputin The Mad Monk


Christopher Lee hangs up his fangs to play Rasputin in this entertaining entry to the Hammer schlock horror cannon


Released in March 1966 on a double bill with Hammer's more traditional - and far superior - chiller The Reptile, Rasputin The Mad Monk marked something of a change of direction for the studio, who found themselves under increasing competition from British horror production houses Amicus and Tigon. Considering the quality of this non-monster fare, though, they'd have been better advised to stick to what they did best.

That it works at all is a credit to Christopher Lee - straight from the set of Dracula: Prince of Darkness, shot back-to-back with this in a cost-saving exercise - who gives a toweringly arch performance as the mesmeric mad monk of Russian history. Hypnotising and bullying his way into the Romanov court, Lee plays the role with great conviction despite being saddled with a beard that makes him look like a Neanderthal escapee from One Million Years B.C.

While the production design is decidedly hackneyed and the understanding of Russian history is pretty sketchy, the more laughable elements of the story (from Russian peasants speaking in cockney accents to Lee's rather camp silk red robes) can't detract from the star's willingness to throw himself into the part, frolicking with the female cast members (including co-star Barbara Shelley), glugging from wine bottles and despatching his many enemies with a series of hand amputations and acid face baths. It's not exactly exciting stuff, but the climactic sequence in which Rasputin "dies" after eating a box of chocolates laced with poison then returns to life for the brutally bloody finale makes up for some of the more turgid moments.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Suzan Farmer, Francis Matthews, Christopher Lee, Richard Pasco, Dinsdale Landen, Barbara Shelley
  • Director: Don Sharp
  • Screen Writer: Anthony Hinds
  • Producer: Anthony Nelson Keys
  • Photographer: Michael Reed
  • Composer: Don Banks

In a nutshell

Hardly a landmark entry in the Hammer Studio's catalogue, but at least Rasputin gave Lee a chance to prove that he could do more than suck blood.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Boyhood


    Richard Linklater's epic drama about growing up, 12 years in the making

  • Film4 The Fighting Seabees

    The Fighting Seabees

    John Wayne stars in a war drama about the military dilemma that led to the formation of Construction Batallions during World War II

  • Film4 Shaolin Soccer

    Shaolin Soccer on Film4

    Stephen Chow writes, directs and stars in an action-comedy about a young Shaolin follower who brings his martial arts skills to the soccer field

  • Film4 One Day

    One Day on Film4

    Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess star in Lone Scherfig's adaptation of David Nicholls' bestselling novel on Film4

  • Channel 4 Blog

    My FrightFest 2014 highlights: preview

    Film4 FrightFest¿s Alan Jones on the horror festival¿s move to the Vue Cinema and his own personal highlights of this year¿s festival, running from 21st ¿ 25th August 2014 in Leicester Square. [capti

  • Channel 4 Blog

    The Body Politic: Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014 Site Editor Michael Leader reports from the Edinburgh International Film Festival... Taken out of its previous pride of place in the middle of the city¿s turbulent festival months, the Ed

Register with

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register