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Exclusive: The Horror World Remembers Christopher Lee…

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With news breaking yesterday of Christopher Lee’s passing, the horror world lost one of its most versatile and revered talents, who actively worked and developed projects up until the very end. And with a legacy that respected and redefined the horror genre, FANGORIA touched base with figures from around the world of horror to pay their respects to the late, great Christopher Lee…

From BASKET CASE director Frank Henenlotter…

I grew up with Christopher Lee. Never forget going to the local neighborhood movie theater with a friend to see HORROR OF DRACULA. Going there, with my 8-year-old bravado, I bragged to my friend that Dracula wasn’t scary, he “was just a guy in a cape.” Ha! Once Lee appeared with that bloody mouth and blood-red eyes, this little child wanted to run home. Which I loved Lee for. Happily, he seemed to be in every other horror film of the ’60s. His mere presence, like that of his friends and contemporaries Vincent Price and Peter Cushing, elevated a film, no matter how godawful it really was. He was the Last Horror Icon, whether he wanted that sobriquet or not. Although I’ve probably seen nothing he’s been in over the last ten years, knowing Sir Christopher was still giving them shit on the screen made this world a better place. Now… alas. Rest in peace, Mr. Lee. You were much loved. 

From Glass Eye Pix mastermind Larry Fessenden…

Like many actors in the horror genre, Christopher Lee was an erudite gentleman. And he was prescient as well. I always loved this quote of his from 1977,  speaking about STAR WARS when it came out. He seemed to anticipate the advancement in FX that would legitimize genre and fantasy films over the decades that followed:
“Because of low budgets & bad scripts— the same thing that gave horror films a bad name— people just haven’t been getting what they wanted all along: High-quality fantasy films. I’m convinced that a well made fantasy film will be more popular than any other type. The enchanted world is still the most enchanting world of all.” (quoted in Famous Monsters of Filmland #146)
Long lived Christopher Lee, who gave us Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings; in short, he gave fantasy films respect and dignity to the fans.
From DRIVE ANGRY writer Todd Farmer…
Peter, Chris and Vincent were my childhood. The last of the Holy Horror Trinity is dead. 
Christopher Lee touched generation after generation, not by just having his older characters discovered, but by constantly becoming new ones. 
Christopher Lee was my Dracula. Always will be. 
From FX guru Howard Berger…
I was lucky enough to work with Mr. Lee in 1997. It was a childhood dream that was only made more amazing by how kind and friendly he was. When Mr. Lee appeared on set we all bowed before him. He stated “My boy, we are all made of clay”. I said “Yes but not you. You are our God”. He laughed and that set the tone for the next several days he was with us on set. He was the greatest! 
From FX artist/director Gary Tunnicliffe…
I was incredibly lucky to work with Christopher on what was really his ‘comeback’ role, when Tim Burton gave him a small role in SLEEPY HOLLOW. ” I can’t believe anyone remembers me! ” was his (shocking) first line to me when I introduced myself, which just demonstrates the humility of an actor who inspired a legion of horror fans. I’ll never forget sitting on set in between takes (and luckily they were long set up’s) while he was happy to sip tea and share with me with stories from everything from the classic days of Hammer Horror to THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, those are the moments that make you truly thankful to do this job and enjoy such a rare opportunity…
…it only got better when years later, Gino Acevedo, my good friend and prosthetics Supervisor on THE LORD OF THE RINGS called me and said “Hey, I was just talking about you…and Christopher Lee says ‘Hello’ ” Ever had your heart ‘warmed’ from 7000 miles away by Dracula?… I have 🙂
From CUBE director Vincenzo Natali…
An icon, a great actor and the last of the Famous Monsters. I am deeply saddened. Before I even knew what an actor was, I was drawn to Christopher Lee.
From FRIGHT NIGHT director Tom Holland…
I had the pleasure of having lunch with him once. In some ways he was more “Peter Vincent” than Peter Vincent. He carried his theatricality with him. His main topic of conversation was himself and his career (and what a career), but somehow it wasn’t egocentric. He was a ham, yes, but he was an endearing ham. It was in his way of telling stories. He acted them out, gesturing broadly at the table, his voice rising as though he were on stage, projecting that presence. I found him fascinating and my only regret is that I didn’t get his autograph.
From HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1999) director William Malone…
There are very few horror icons in film history like Karloff, Lugosi, Chaney, Veidt and Price.  Sir Christopher Lee is certainly in that pantheon of greats. For my money, his performance as Dracula is the most powerful and dynamic ever. I had the pleasure to have dinner with him a few years back and I found him to be generous and just as dynamic and intelligent in person…  A true gentleman. His passing is the end of an era. Thank God he will live on as a ghost in those dreamy images on film.
From MAY director Lucky McKee…
Sad to hear that he’s passed. He’s entertained me my whole life and will continue to do so until its my turn to float on.
From SLEEPWALKERS director Mick Garris…
He was an amazing man, and deserves a more thoughtful tribute than I can provide now. He will be irreplaceable. 
From RE-ANIMATOR director Stuart Gordon…
Christopher Lee made Dracula scary again. Tall and strikingly handsome with blood red eyes, he rarely spoke but instead hissed like some venomous creature. The last of the true horror icons, he will be sorely missed.
From Troma mastermind Lloyd Kaufman…
I became somewhat friendly with Christopher Lee about twenty years ago as our paths crossed several times at festivals. Nice guy. If I remember correctly, he told me that by looking at me, he figured I would make a noise like a frog before he did. Also, I introduced Travis Irvine whose Troma Movie, COONS had just been released. This occurred whilst Lee was eating a banana. As always, Mr. Lee was funny and gracious
From COONS director Travis Irvine…
Yes, this was such an honorable way to meet Mr. Lee… Him eating a banana back stage while Lloyd rolled on the meeting with my little mini-DV camera! Not only did Mr. Lee give me advice about my own movie, but his advice on Cannes and the film industry as a whole was lovely and professional… After the camera’s battery died, I’ll never forget Mr. Lee standing tall out of his chair and saying in his deep, baritone voice that he hoped I’d “never have to go to Cannes again…” A true legend eating a banana! I’m grateful for this brief time I had with him and that it was documented by Lloyd.
From TALES OF HALLOWEEN director Andrew Kasch…
As far as I’m concerned, Lee was the last great icon – a piece of living history – and his death closes the door on an entire era. You won’t see anyone that prestigious working in horror today. He could take the worst kind of schlock and elevate it like Laurence Olivier doing Shakespeare.
This is one passing that should be celebrated, not mourned. Most 90-year-olds play Bingo and stare off into space. Christopher Lee was recording heavy metal albums. If that isn’t the greatest ending to an epic life, I don’t know what is.
From SOCIETY director Brian Yuzna…
Lon Chaney.  Bela Lugosi.  Boris Karloff.  Vincent Price. 
Christopher Lee.
Horror Movie Valhalla.
From RE-ANIMATOR producer Brian William Curtis…
I had the great pleasure of meeting and working with Sir Christopher in the mid eighties in London while helping produce a short documentary on Sherlock Holmes in the cinema.  Each day after filming his narration he would have his driver take us for a tour of London’s historical highlights while he would expound on each sites significance.  Afterwards he would take us back to his home for tea and the history lesson would continue.  It was a dream come true, he had been my favorite actor since watching him as DRACULA in 1958 when I was nine.  I was afraid to turn my bedroom light off at night for six months after seeing that movie.
From Grindhouse Releasing mastermind Bob Murawski…
One of the most exciting moments of my editing career was getting an offer to work on a movie called THE RESIDENT, and upon screening the rough cut, finding out it was a Hammer Films production – the first in over 30 years! And then discovering that Christopher Lee was in the movie!!! Needless to day, I took the job immediately. I was absolutely thrilled to be editing a Hammer Film with Christopher Lee. Literally a dream come true. I immediately went to work on his scenes, making his introduction more dramatic and lengthening the amount of his screen time wherever it was possible. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to meet him, but I hope he was happy with the work I had done.
From I SELL THE DEAD director Glenn McQuaid…
I’d be hard pressed to name my favorite Christopher Lee movie, there are just too many classics to choose from, and it’s hard to imagine the horror genre without the class, charm and, quite often, subversive humor that he brought to it. Whatever character he inhabited, whatever story was being told, he brought something to it that no one else could. He left us an awful lot of good stuff to remember him by and I’m looking forward to diving back into the Christopher Lee archives.
From HANNIBAL creator/writer Bryan Fuller…
Sith, Wizard, Devil, Death, King of the Vampires, Superfluous-Nippled Assassin. Icon. Christopher Lee transported audiences with every role he embodied and left an indelible mark on my fandom as clear as the twin puncture wounds Dracula left on Mina’s neck. Before he lit up movie screens and imaginations, he hunted Nazis and was a member of a secret agency known as the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. Christopher Lee was a badass who played badasses and I salute his badassery, on screen and off. Thank you, Mister Lee. For so much.
From THE THING director John Carpenter…
The world of horror has lost one of its greatest actors. Rest in peace, Christopher Lee.
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