December 30, 2008

Night Creatures

I'm still messing around with digital painting and wanted to do something with Peter Cushing's character from Night Creatures (or Captain Clegg as it's known in the UK)-- a Hammer film based loosely on the Doctor Syn novels. So above is Dr. Blyss. I thought it might be kind of cool to do something where the character's clothing blends in with the background, and Dr. Blyss was the perfect subject.

The gist of the film is as follows... Captain Collier (Patrick Allen) arrives in an English coastal town with his band of navy men to investigate reports of illegal smuggling and bootlegging, only to find that he must also investigate reports of "Marsh Phantoms"-- said to ride on phantom horses through the marshes spreading terror to any who encounter them. The Captain suspects that the local reverend (Peter Cushing) is hiding something as well...

After spending months watching nothing but Hammer Horror films, I think I've come to the conclusion that my favorite of the lot is Night Creatures. It's not really a "horror" film (though that's what it's billed as), but more of a fun adventure story. It has a real Cobra/Springfield vibe to it (G.I. Joe fans will know what I mean), and Dr. Blyss acts as its Cobra Commander. Blyss is actually a very tragic character, as you find out by the end of the film, and almost immediately I wanted to do some sort of piece featuring the character. Particularly his past (which I can't really reveal without spoiling the film), but I only have rough sketches of that mapped out at the moment. But for now I decided to focus on the character as he appears in the movie.

I think this must be a sort of hidden gem type of film, because it's not really ranked up there with other Hammer classics like Horror of Dracula or The Curse of Frankenstein. It's not talked about much at all, really. But it should be. (Why do I always end up rooting for the underdogs so much?) It's a great story and very well acted-- I was pleasantly surprised by it when I finally watched it. Peter Cushing gives an amazing performance (I'd argue that it may very well be his finest performance), and Michael Ripper is excellent as Mr. Mipps, Blyss' right hand man. It was great seeing Michael Ripper in a more prominent role because he is used a lot in Hammer films, but usually only in bit parts. Here he really gets a chance to shine.

After watching the film a couple times and getting into it, I was very pleasantly surprised to find that Peter Cushing himself really loved it as well. So much so that he had plans to write a screenplay for a sequel (or maybe a prequel?) about Dr. Blyss' adventures. How cool would that have been?

So as you may have guessed, I highly recommend Night Creatures. You can probably find it on Netflix. It's a fun film and probably not what you're expecting.

Anyway, hope everyone had a fun Christmas. Here's to 2009-- let's hope it's better than '08.

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