It’s a mad mad mad mad monk

I’m not sure if you could call this a horror movie or not. However, it’s a Hammer film and its Christopher Lee so I’m gonna go with it.

“Rasputin the Mad Monk” is just a slice of the monk’s life and reputation. I’m not sure how accurate it is. It doesn’t have to be since most of the movie is about his debauchery and that is well known. There is very little of the palace activity that is usually reflected in historical pieces. Just enough to get to the reason for his murder. Hammer also portrays him as more of a hypnotist than a healer. It helps to know a little about Russian history to understand what is going on some of the time but not totally necessary.

Liberties were taken with the life of Rasputin, especially the circumstances of his death. The actual killers of Rasputin were Prince Felix Yousupov, Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich and Vladimir Purishkevich. There are many rumors around the cause of death. Everything from one or all of he was poisoned, shot, beaten, tied up and drowned. The autopsy determined that Rasputin died of a gunshot wound to the head. It also said that he had been shot three times. The other 2 shots to his abdomen. He also had blunt force trauma and cuts over his body indicating he was beaten but there were no traces of cyanide. Although at the time of the autopsy there were no specific tests for poison. Doctors relied on the smell of cyanide in stomach contents and not everyone can smell it.

It’s not one of Hammer’s best movies. Christopher Lee and Barbara Shelley are good in their performances. Lee sometimes appears to be a little over the top but I think that is more a reflection on Rasputin’s reputation more than Lee overacting. I had seen Tom Baker play Rasputin in Nicholas and Alexandra. I have to say that although Lee is good, I prefer Baker’s performance. Baker has a way of appearing a little, shall we say, madder.

Released April 6, 1966 posters for the movie urged movie goers to “Disguise yourself from the forces of evil”. Get your Rasputin beard FREE as you enter the theatre! Given to guys and gals alike!

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