Breaking with the somber remembrance of the birthday of Peter Cushing yesterday, tonight in the Vault, let's have a little fun celebrating the shared birthday of two other horror immortals, one still with us, one no longer. One was an effete American with a penchant for cooking who once rapped with Michael Jackson; the other, a swarthy Englishman who played Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy and a gay biker. Tonight, it's all about Vincent Price vs. Christopher Lee.
Vamping It Up!
Yeah, I know. This one's not even fair. Chris Lee has played the Transylvanian Count more times than any actor alive or undead, a total of ten occasions from 1958's Horror of Dracula to 1976's Dracula and Son.
Price very famously turned down the role of Dracula a number of times, believing he could add nothing to it. He did, however, play Dracula's cousin once on an episode of F-Troop.
Special Effects Extravaganzas!
Christopher Lee, in more recent years, has taken part in some big-budget blockbusters--like Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, in which he fought Yoda.
Price's earliest horror effort was 1940's The Invisible Man Returns, in which he pulled off a vanishing act quite impressive for its day (and pretty damn cool today.)
If you ever want to experience Christopher Lee's rich baritone, look no further than The Return of Captain Invincible, in which he played the evil Nazi Mr. Midnight...
Anyone remember The Great Mouse Detective? That would be Price as the voice of the dastardly Rattigan...
Playing It for Laughs!
Lee has not been one to poke much fun at himself, although he can be seen doing comedic turns in such films as Gremlins 2 and the critically acclaimed Police Academy: Mission to Moscow, in which he played Commandant Alexandrei Nikolaivich Rakov.
Price was far more enthusiastic about making fun of himself, as evidenced by his countless variety show appearances throughout the 1950s-1980s. I'm particularly fond of his child-frightening appearance with Kermit the Frog.
Lee rocked some Father Time-like facial hair as the wizard Saruman in another cherished geek franchise, The Lord of the Rings.
And who could forget the curly Jew-beard, complete with fake hook nose, worn by Price taking on the part of The Merchant of Venice's Shylocke in Theatre of Blood?
A career film heavy's ultimate goal might be playing a Bond villain, and Lee got to do so as Francisco Scaramanga in 1974's The Man with the Golden Gun.
The closest Price came to playing a Bond villain was playing Egghead on the Batman TV show.
Lee played the very devious, very Oriental Dr. Fu Manchu on five different occasions.
Aside from the aforementioned Shylocke thing, Price also took on the disguise of a stereotypically gay hairdresser for Theatre of Blood as well, complete with '70s white man fro!
Did you know that the two men appeared in a total of four films together? They are, for those keeping score:
- The Oblong Box
- The Horror Show
- Scream and Scream Again
- House of the Long Shadows
And finally, as we celebrate these two elder statesmen of horror who share a birthday, let's not forget one other horror icon who shares this birthday as well!
"Hey guys... Do you ever wonder about all the different ways of dying? For me... the worst way to die would be for a bunch of old men... to get around me... and start biting me, and eating me alive..."
* Special thanks to Kevin Maher for his immense help in putting this post together.