movies

Starring… Rasputin!

Doug and I went to see the movie Free Guy, starring the ever-hilarious Ryan Reynolds, a thoroughly delightful movie that seems like a cross between The Truman Show, Inception and Tron. We loved it. But it was the previews that caught my attention. The King’s Man is the upcoming prequel to the Kingsmen series. It’s set during World War I, and Rasputin will make an appearance, doing flying sidekicks and all sorts of things you don’t find in history books.As this week is the anniversary of the murder of Tsar Nicholas II and his entire family in a basement Siberia, it got me thinking about Rasputin portrayed in film. He’s such a character, you almost could not make him up. But he was real and he had a huge role to play in the life of Alexei, the prince who had hemophilia, and the overthrow of the monarchy. Pretty sure he had nothing to do with the King’s Man.

Where else has Rasputin appeared? I found the sollowing on the internet. Within nine months of Rasputin’s murder in 1917, there were two low budget silent films about Rasputin. Producer-director Herbert Brenon released The Fall of the Romanoffs, and producer William A. Brady released Rasputin, the Black Monk.

There was Rasputin, a 1929 silent film, produced by Momento Film Company and directed by Nikolai Larin. Rasputin, The Holy Devil is a 1930 German film produced and directed by Martin Berger. Rasputin, Dämon der Frauen was a 1932 German film;  and Rasputin and the Empress, was a 1932 MGM production, with Lionel Barrymore playing Rasputin!

There was La Tragédie impériale, a 1939 film based on the book by Alfred Neumann; Raspoutine, a 1953 French film directed by Georges Combret; never released in the United States or England. The Night They Killed Rasputin, a 1960 film;  Rasputin the Mad Monk, a 1966 Hammer film. Hammer was known for the horror genre so it seems right that Rasputin was played by Christopher Lee!

J’ai tué Raspoutine (I Killed Rasputin) is a 1967 film featuring an interview with the real Prince Felix Yussupov, who participated in his murder.

My favorite is the spectacular Nicholas and Alexandra, a 1971 epic British film based on the book by Robert and Suzanne Massie, who have a son with hemophilia. Rasputin was expertly played by Tom Baker.

Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny is a 1996 HBO TV film, in which Rasputin was played by one of my favorite actors Alan Rickman, who won a Golden Globe for his portrayal.

And finally the upcoming The King’s Man, a 2021 Matthew Vaughn film.  Welsh actor Rhys Ifans will play Rasputin, who will pull a lot of martial art moves apparently!

And surprise! Rasputin, an upcoming film to star Leonardo DiCaprio as Rasputin! Maybe this will be his second Oscar?

Hemophilia: The B Sci-Fi Movie

I love sci-fi as a movie genre, and am a big fan of the 1950s classics (War of the Worlds, The Amazing Colossal Man, The Day the Earth Stood Still), and even the silly B-movies (Plan 9 From Outer Space), right up to 2001: A Space OdysseyAlien (all time greatest) and hey, even Prometheus. I never knew hemophilia was ever mentioned in sci-fi but it has been!

Our esteemed writer Richard Atwood is a sleuth at finding obscure references to hemophilia. And he found one in an old sci-fi film–with some prominent cast members.

The film is the 1966 Planet of Blood (a.k.a. Queen of Blood) and is about a space-vampire who is a queen on her planet. But her spaceship is in trouble; so Dr. Farrady (starring Basil Rathbone) at the International Institute of Space Technology sends two rescue teams of American astronauts (played by Dennis Hopper, Judi Meredith, and John Saxon) travel from the Moon to Mars in 1990 to search for unidentified aliens in distress.

The astronauts locate only one mute, green-skinned, female alien (Florence Marly) in a red-bodysuit, with platinum blood hair, picked up from the Martian satellite Phobos. The alien must live on human plasma, which leads to the deaths of two astronauts who were hypnotized first, while the crew return to Earth. She has a secret plot to overrun the Earth by laying as many eggs as possible on the rescue ship that recovers her from her crashed interstellar spaceship.

Disdaining human food, however, the alien queen needs human blood to survive. She hypnotizes male crew members, one by one, and sucks them dry. Ordered not to kill her, the surviving astronauts fear for their lives from the killer in their midst. Spoiler alert!! They accidentally end her life by cutting her skin, and she bleeds to death. Her blood is green.

The crew believe that she is what humans would have become if we had evolved on another planet–hemophiliacs.  This female vampire is labeled a hemophiliac, by the crew, and some sort of royalty. She’s dead, but like a queen bee, she leaves behind her red eggs, with “consequences left to the imagination,” Richard writes.  

Interesting take on interstellar aliens, vampires, and hemophilia!  It’s now a cult movie, and you can order it on Amazon.   

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