Captain Clegg (Night Creatures) Reviews
This is Hammer's take on the Dr Syn story, but seeing that did not have the rights, there are some radical changes. The location is the same, as is the basic story about smugglers. Dr Syn now becomes Dr Bliss with a completely different back story, and the Scarecrow character is hardly there. So, in all this is a completely different movie from it's Disney counterpart and has a slightly more adult feel. The acting is top notch, but Peter Cushing is a little less believable in the lead role. The story meanders a little and ends up being more of a love story with Hammer's signature gothic feel. All in all this is a fun movie to watch, but is not a patch on the Disney version.
The whole thing starts with a very effective scene of a crewman on the ship of the feared Captain Clegg. The crewman is being punished for apparent wrongdoings. His ears are slit, his tongue is cut out and he's left on an island to die. This set up really engages you and starts the movie off on a high note. Next, we see visions of skeletons on horses who scare an old man to death in the marshes surrounding the town.
After that strong opening, we meet up with Peter Cushing as the spiritual leader and minister of a local church. From that point on, the movie belongs to Cushing. His performance is as good if not better than anything else I've seen him in. His role here is totally different than his horror performances. Here, he is practically a secret agent, as he plots and carries out masterful schemes to thwart the King's army. Eventally we are treated to Cushing in a fight that is worth the price of admission. There is much else to like here. Oliver Reed as Harry Crabtree and Yvonne Romain as the gorgeous Imogene come to mind.
The story carries with it a mild twist that brings everything together nicely. Much of the dialogue is effective in that it sets up a lot of suspicion and distrust that pays off as the plot progresses. There aren't a lot of special effects and the "night creatures" are actually pretty sloppily done. But they're practically unseen so their overall effectivenss is minor to the advancing the story.
If you watch "Night Creatures", don't expect the typical Hammer horror experience because it isn't here. What you will encounter though, is a really enjoyable tale with elements of suspense, thrills and even a fair bit of action.