Title: Night Creatures (Captain Clegg)
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Writer: Anthony Hinds
Director: Peter Graham Scott
Producer: John Temple-Smith
Starring: Peter Cushing, Patrick Allen, Yvonne Romain, Michael Ripper, Oliver Reed
Released: June, 1962
I was going to stray away from Hammer Studios for this week, but then I thought…why? Their library is so extensive, and so awesome, why not keep going with another one! This week brings us, Captain Clegg, or Night Creatures, as it was known in the U.S. when it was released in 1962. This film has really stood the test of time, and I can’t see why it won’t for a very long time. Some of the story is loosely based off of Doctor Syn and the Romney Marsh Phantoms, but that material was owned by Disney back then, so some of the material and names were changed to avoid a lawsuit. Let us now forage to the coastline of rural England, and the 18th Century!
Our story begins on a ship at sea, with a man (pic below) being punished for assaulting the Captain’s wife. They slit his ears, and cut out his tongue, and tie him to a post on a deserted island for his crimes. We next see an old man, as he’s quickly trying to make his way through the marshes. Suddenly though, he’s accosted by several spectral beings riding horses that glow in the night. He’s so upset by these demons, that he throws a heart attack, and dies on the spot!
The following day, Reverend Bliss (Peter Cushing) is holding a church service, but it’s soon interrupted by Captain Collier (Patrick Allen- pic below, far right), and the kings soldiers. They’re on the hunt for smugglers that have been reportedly been illegally transporting wine and other alcohol out of the country. Captain Collier waits outside for Reverend Bliss, and the Squire (Derek Francis), while his men search the ale house. Initially they find nothing, but then they bring in the man who was tied to the post back on that deserted island. He’s their snoop and can sniff out booze, but when they think they’ve found something, it turns out the casks are only full of white varnish. The Captain then demands to see Mr. Ketch (his informer), and Mr. Mipps (Michael Ripper-pic below, middle) takes him to his workshop. He shows him the dead body, and the Captain is furious. He’s told the man died of fright, but doesn’t believe in the marsh phantoms he’s told about by Mipps.
Captain Collier looks for accommodations, but Bliss tells him there is nowhere for him and his men, but that doesn’t stop him from trying. We then see that Bliss, Mipps, and several others are in on a smuggling ring. The owner of the Inn, Mr. Rash, is the “guardian” of a waitress, Imogene (Yvonne Romain-pic below with Oliver Reed), and is also a part of the ring. He also often harasses Imogene as well. Captain Collier is then invited to dinner with Bliss, the Squire, and his son. As they are having their meal, the Squire tells Captain Collier that his men can stay in his barn, and Bliss gets annoyed and spills his drink. Bliss then goes out to the bar to get a towel, and the man whom he left for dead on the island sees him. Now, the man had his tongue cut out, so he cannot speak, but he does attack Bliss, and the Captain’s men pull him off before he strangles him.
After dinner, a man runs into town screaming, absolutely raving about the marsh phantoms. Captain Collier then demands that the man show him where he saw them, and he gathers his troops and the head out into the marshes. After walking for miles, we see that it was all a distraction so the smugglers can get their “product” out of the town without the soldiers finding out about the operation. Eventually, Captain Collier realizes he’s been tricked, so he threatens the man and gets him to divulge where the smugglers are hiding. As they make their way to the secret hiding spot, a scarecrow appears in a nearby field, and one of the soldiers remarks that he saw it move. Collier then draws his pistol, and fires at the scarecrow, hitting it in the arm. Once they get to the spot though, only rags remain, but there is blood on the sleeve!
The secrets of the town and of the Romney Marsh Phantoms will be revealed in the exciting conclusion to this epic movie! Rest assured that you will be on the edge of you seat for this one! Will Imogene and Harry (Oliver Reed) get to be together or will they die at the hands of Captain Collier!
OK, here are my thoughts:
Alright, this is one fantastic movie! Peter Cushing as basically a swashbuckling pirate is nothing short of incredible. He delivers a great performance, and the rest of the crew does as well. Michael Ripper is rock solid as usual, and he gets a more active role than most of his other films, for sure. You really get the sense that he cares about Bliss like a brother. There is another secret that gets revealed about Imogene, and most wont see this one coming.
The musical score is quite good too. Thunderous when it needed to be, but also ominous at times of desperation. The sets are exactly what you come to expect from a Hammer film, which is to say they are superb. The locations they used for filming were very cool, and added a feeling of the times when the film was to have taken place. Kudos for that and Peter Cushing, as he delivers another genuine performance that lights up the screen!