Christopher Lee Remembered

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Christopher Lee

From immortal monster, to Jedi, to powerful wizard. He had worn many faces throughout his long and distinguished career. This week, the world mourned the loss of veteran stage and screen actor, Sir Christopher Lee.

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“Chiller Theatre” opening sequence. This creeped me out so much as a kid.

My introduction to Christopher Lee came one night, well after my bedtime, staying up to watch Chiller Theatre. 

I enjoyed (usually with one eye open) many Hammer Horror films, most of them starring Lee, starting with Horror of Dracula (1958), with Lee in the title role and co-star Peter Cushing (another favorite of mine and fellow Star Wars alum) as his nemesis Van Helsing. As a little girl, hiding under the covers, peeking out just as he was about to strike at some unsuspecting victim, I was both terrified and mesmerized by Lee’s gaze. I probably shouldn’t have been, but I was hooked.

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Lee as Count Dracula in many Hammer Horror films.

I credit my love of gothic horror to those early films. Lee’s Dracula was silent and menacing. He was far from repentant, and no, damn it, he never sparkled – he compelled – as any good (or in this case, bad) vampire should. He’d given me many nightmares, and later in life, he was also a source of inspiration for many of the stories I’d go on to write.

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Lee as Saruman the White in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies.

Years later, I was thrilled to see him as Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels and again in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies as Saruman the White. Nearly 80 when he took on those roles, Lee showed no signs of slowing down. He even recorded the Heavy Metal Christmas album in 2012. Still cool, still relevant and still doing things his way at 90, I couldn’t help but admire him.

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Christopher Lee in Vatican City (1944).

Lee cast a long and imposing shadow, standing a full 6 feet 5 inches tall. He was a giant in every way to someone like me. From everything I’d seen, Christopher Lee was a proud man, a powerful man and a serious man.  He had served in the military, was in the RAF during World War II, and had received various honors, including knighthood in 2009. The man certainly seemed the stuff of legend.

Christopher Lee kept acting into his 90s, always sharp and full of purpose, and he left quite a legacy. I thought somehow he’d live forever… He was an original. We’ll likely never see another like him, and he will be sorely missed.

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Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, John Carradine and Peter Cushing

Christopher Lee passed away on June 7, 2015, at the age of 93. He has gone to join his friends and former co-stars, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price and John Carradine (all gone, but not forgotten.. nothing is ever forgotten…) – best known for their horror/sci-fi roles. I’m sure they welcome him with open arms. Oh, the stories they must have to share.

Farewell… and many thanks, Sir Christopher Lee. I owe you more than I ever realized…

-SylverWhisper

Hunky Highlanders, Time Travellers & Fair Ladies, Oh My!

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Ron Moore (Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica) is back again, this time as the Executive Producer for the Starz Original Series Outlander, starring Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan.

WHAT IT IS 

Outlander (not be confused with the 2008 movie of the same name) is based on the series of (currently 8) novels by Diana Gabaldon. Outlander follows the adventures of Claire Randall (Balfe), a World War II combat nurse. While on a trip to Scotland (near Inverness) with her husband Frank (an academic, played by Tobias Menzies), with whom she has only just been reunited after a 5 year absence, Claire manages to fall through time, 200 hundred years into the past. Right place, wrong timezone. That’ll teach her to roam about an ancient mystical site (stone circle and everything), where only hours before a Samhain ritual had been performed.

Sadly for Claire, she ends up smack dab in the middle of the conflict between the British Redcoats and the Scots in 1743 (one of many leading up to the famous and bloody Battle of Culloden in 1746).

Lost and confused, Claire dodges musket fire and an attempted rape at the hands of Captain Black Jack Randall, a British soldier and nasty piece of work, who happens to look a good deal like someone from Claire’s past (or is it future?) life… hmmm… (having a Dark Shadows flashback, but I digress).

KILTS and BODICE RIPPERS

Twice injured and twice saved by Claire, Jamie Fraser (Heughan), a Scottish rebel, is more than just a little grateful. Luckily in helping Jamie, Claire proves herself useful to his clan, saving her own skin in the process. She can use all the allies she can get in this wilderness. Claire is a rational person, but she knows she’s not in 1945 anymore.

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Sparks fly from the word go between Claire and Jamie (for some reason the words bodice-ripping come to mind whenever he’s on screen) and one can only hope for some steamy scenes involving the pair (hopefully sooner rather than later, please…).

IMPRESSIONS

I found the pace of the first half of the opening episode a bit sluggish. Thankfully, things pick right up once we’re in 1743. Though I found Claire’s voiceover as a plot device, a bit overused, and even jarring at times, I can forgive it. Hopefully, as the series progresses, there’ll be less of a need to telegraph her thoughts in this manner. I did enjoy the references to Celtic magic and pagan rituals, and hope we’ll be seeing more of that as time goes on.

Outlander has all the makings of a successful drama – romance, conflict, beautiful locations, and a strong heroine in Claire. She’s a woman ahead of her time – in both worlds. Even by today’s standards, Claire is intelligent, skilled, passionate, tough, and outspoken. A formidable woman indeed.

From what I’ve heard, fans of the books can rest easy, as the television adaptation (thus far) seems rather faithful.

For more on the Outlander series of books, visit Diana Gabaldon’s site.

For a look at the TV series, check out the official Starz trailer below.

Outlander airs Saturdays at 9pm on Starz.