REVIEW: CHRISTOPHER LEE – A LEGACY OF HORROR AND TERROR / CERT: UNRATED / DIRECTOR: A. SUSAN SVEHLA / SCREENPLAY: N/A / STARRING: CHRISTOPHER LEE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
There can be no arguing that the legendary Christopher Lee is nothing less than a national treasure and is one of the coolest people to grace the planet with his presence. No better or more fitting a person then to have what is described on the front cover as a feature documentary in his honour to examine his awesome legacy of over 300 films – and counting.
Sadly, although the intention is noble, the execution isn’t quite up to the standard the box suggests. It’s not really a documentary as such, it’s a long interview with the actor, giving him the opportunity to tell a few of his stories with some film clips. He recalls anecdotes about his early days, a recent casting fiasco, his work with Peter Cushing, Hammer, Amicus, his days as Dracula, a near death experience while filming underwater in a 30 foot tank for Airport ’77 and his reasons for moving to America, among many others – so the content is a vein of fan-pleasing richness.
However, as I mentioned earlier, it’s the execution. The interview was filmed at a horror convention, on stage, with a single fixed camera seemingly locked in an extreme close up of Christopher Lee’s face. There are no other angles apart from an opening wide shot to show the two people, one on either side, who ask Lee the bulk of the questions.
As in most cases with a convention audience, the guest answers with a hand held microphone, so while he’s talking, we can’t see Lee’s mouth nor actually the lower part of his face, and there’s an echo in the sound quality that makes him sound like the caller in a bingo hall. Unfortunately, this makes hearing what he has to say often very difficult. At no point can we hear the questions asked by the audience. It’s also worth noting that while the DVD is a 2014 release, the feature interview was in 1999.
Overall, disappointing but not a write-off.