Captain Clegg (Night Creatures) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Captain Clegg (Night Creatures) Reviews

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March 17, 2011
This is not a horror film, even though it's a Hammer flick. There are some local phantoms, but they appear only twice and, as any viewer with half a brain will quickly figure out, there's nothing at all supernatural about them. This isn't to say that this isn't a good film. In fact, it's an enjoyable mystery/drama in which Peter Cushing gives one of the best performances of his career as a local vicar turned liquor smuggler who may be hiding an even bigger secret from the royal military agents who've come to put a stop to the tax evasion.

In fact, the whole cast is pretty good here. There's a young Oliver Reed who gives an uncharacteristically low-key performance, and Yvonne Romain is certainly nice to look at on screen. Patrick Allen is a little one-dimensional here, but there isn't much to his character. Michael Ripper does a terrific job as Mr. Mipps, coffin maker and conspirator. Peter Cushing truly stands out, though, and if you've enjoyed his work in other Hammer films you must track this one down!

The Phantoms of Romney Marsh, when they do show up toward the end of the film, probably take more away from the movie than they add. They're silly looking and obviously not ghosts; it's hard to imagine that a platoon of soldiers wouldn't have simply hacked them to bits. They probably could have been left on the cutting room floor without affecting the overall film much, and I suspect that they were only put in so that this film could be sold as a horror movie and not just as a costume drama about pirates and smugglers.

A good story and good performances make this stand out among Hammer's Gothic Grindhouse works. Surely deserves to be remembered and re-seen. I don't normally watch this sort of flick; I thought I was going to see horror that was actually about some sort of vampires or other "night creatures." I still wound up enjoying it a great deal!
November 28, 2010
Hammer doing pirates
½ November 27, 2010
"Subterfuge" director Peter Graham Scott's period piece "Night Creatures" (aka "Captain Clegg") qualifies as a rare Hammer film that is neither about supernatural demons nor larger-than-life monsters. Basically, "Night Creatures" concerns British smugglers at war with the Royal Navy. This suspenseful, atmospheric epic came out a year before the Walt Disney picture "Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow" with Patrick McGoohan. Indeed, the uncredited source of John Elder's screenplay with Barbara S. Harper's supplemental dialogue is Russell Thorndike's novel "Dr. Syn." The two films cover roughly the same subject matter, but "Night Passage" director James Neilson's Disney version with McGoohan ranks as the better of the two. Hammer avoided a copyright infringement law suit with Disney by changing the protagonist's name from Dr. Syn to Reverend Blyss. Nevertheless, Hammer serves up an interesting version of its own that ranks as far more realistic. The ending is not as rosy as "Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow" and morality plays an important part in the unhappy conclusion.

"Night Creatures" unfolds with a prologue set in the year 1776 aboard a sailing ship in the tropics. A stocky mulatto seaman (Milton Reid of "The Spy Who Loved Me") is punished for "willfully and maliciously" attacking the wife of the ship's captain, Captain Clegg, and he is sentenced to have both ears slit and his tongue cut out. Furthermore, the Mulatto is abandoned on the nearest uninhabited shore and left tied to a cross with neither food and water and left to die. Mind you, Scott doesn't provide a reversal shot during the sentencing scene so we never know what Captain Clegg looks like, but the Mulatto remembers him as he pleads for mercy. The scene shifts to a church back in England in the year 1792. A narrator provides the following exposition: "The Romney Marshes,--flat and desolate,--was the land of a proud and independent people. Their shores faced the shores of France--and many was the shipload of wine and brandy smuggled across the sea in defiance of the King's revenue men." The narrator pauses and continues, "Many legends have come from this corner of England--but none so widely believed or widely feared,--as the legend of the Marsh Phantoms--who rode the land on dark, misty nights--and struck fear into the hearts of all who crossed their paths . . ."

The Royal Navy dispatches Captain Howard Collier (Patrick Allen of "The Wild Geese") to search for French wine that has been smuggled into England without a tax levied on it. Indeed, somebody is violating the trade embargo against Revolutionary France and Collier and his able-bodied seamen march into a remote British town and turn it upside down. Dr. Blyss (Peter Cushing of "Horror of Dracula") is the village vicar of Dymchurch, a tiny English coastal village, and he welcomes Collier and his men with open arms. Meantime, the people in the village who earn extra income from smuggling set about hiding what is left of what they have. They have created ingenious passageways between various buildings where they have stashed away the untaxed alcohol. The British couldn't have arrived at a worse time because Blyss and company have a rendezvous. Collier, who has been pursuing Clegg on the high seas for years, has brought the Mulatto with him. Collier rescued the mute and plans to use him as a blood hound to sniff out untaxed stores of wine. Blyss and the villagers have their hands full trying to distract Captain Collier. At one point, a frightened villager (Jack MacGowran of "The Exorcist") distracts them while Blyss and company sell their contraband liquor. Eventually, the suspicious Collier threatens to kill the frightened villager if he doesn't take them to the smugglers. Reluctantly, the frightened villagers complies, but Blyss' men have staked out scarecrows as sentinels. Actually, some of the smugglers masquerade as scarecrows to provide an early warning system for their comrades. Meantime, one of the conspirators, an innkeeper Mr. Rash (Martin Benson of "Goldfinger") cracks up and stabs a sailor to death after Blyss has warned him repeatedly not to resort to violence.
½ May 9, 2010
I was really geared to see Night Creatures (known as Captain Clegg in native England). First it's a Hammer film, and I love Hammer! Second it stars Peter Cushing and Oliver Reed, two top Hammer stars. Third the story has ghosts and pirates. A swashbuckling pirate hammer horror film! Sign me up! That novel idea ended up being a wet dream and I emerged from the film let down and disappointed.

The film opens promising enough on a pirate ship where a crew member is sentenced to die on island for threatening the captains wife. It cuts later to a coastal community where some lawmen show up to see if the community is smuggling alcohol as well to investigate the death of an undercover soldier that supposedly died by some "marsh phantoms", which just look like men dressed up in skeleton costumes with dark lights shining upon them.

Though described as "swashbuckling" in many descriptions, this is actually a land locked "pirate" film with hardly any "horror". Despite this film being featured in a DVD set entitled "The Hammer Horror Series" and it's deceptive original poster art, I wouldn't even consider this a horror film. The plot is overly talky with very little action making this more far more of a melodrama. The directing of the film is also far less stylized than other films in the Hammer catalog, no doubt due to director Peter Graham Scott mostly known as a TV director. Though sluggish the film does have a nice twist at the end and the star power of Peter Cushing and Oliver Reed kept me watching until the credits rolled. It was also nice to see a Hammer film for once that looked like it was filmed on many live locations as opposed to sets like many of their other features.

Fans must not go into this not expecting a "horror" film. It is a melodrama. I was fooled and came out really disappointed with the results. Die hard Hammer fans will find something to like but others shouldn't work too hard to hunt this rare title down.
December 11, 2009
Night Creatures (1962) -- [6.5] -- This Hammer production is, in the best way possible, like a live-action episode of "Scooby-Doo", complete with pirates, marsh phantoms, scarecrows, and secret identities. The charismatic cast is headlined by Peter Cushing as the dubious town vicar and Patrick Allen as a British captain sent to investigate an alleged smuggling ring. The mystery is as transparent as anything the Scooby gang ever encountered, but "Night Creatures" (aka "Captain Clegg") has an endearing tone similar to Disney's live-action features in the `60s and `70s, which I find quite charming in a spooky costume drama.
½ November 1, 2009
Pretty dull Hammer mystery movie. Like a lot of Hammer's stuff, the picture looks really nice, clean, and colorful. The story is somewhat lacking in that it is set as a mystery, but it is very obvious as to what is going on almost the entire movie. The effect of the marsh phantoms is interesting and Cushing is fun as always. It seems more like an old made for TV movie than even a Saturday matinee.
September 23, 2009
"A thrilling expose of the dark underworld of 18th century claret-smuggling!" is what the posters did not say, which is a good thing as this is actually great fun. If you have seen Hammer's other land-bound pirate film of the same year, Pirates Of Blood River, do not ignore this superior production by comparison.

Cushing is terrific in portraying the dual nature of his character. Sermonizing in the early scenes, and then back-flipping out of his chair to fight the deaf-mute giant that he was seen to have condemned to mutilation and slow death in the opening scene. He seems to be pulling it off largely undoubled, as well.

Oliver Reed is quite suave as a romantic lead, this being the year before his bar fight scarification. I still have a lot of affection for the Disney version of this, with Patrick McGoohan. But the supporting cast and economy of this make it stand out.
August 17, 2009
A disappointing Hammer.
August 13, 2009
Phenomenally entertaining crime thriller with some nice moral ambiguity going on. I think I have a crush on Oliver Reed, and I KNOW I have a crush on Yvonne Romain. Meanwhile, Peter Cushing is awesome.
½ April 12, 2009
This is a nice little film about retired pirates smuggling booze and using superstition as a shield. peter Cushing is great in the lead and there's nice detail throughout.
February 18, 2009
A tidy little action and abit of the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh accent in the long line of Hammer Films of England. Entertaining and Peter Cushing, Oliver Reed and marvelous character actor Michael Ripper!
October 3, 2008
Nice little hammer horror picture that features cool, atmospheric scenes on the marshes, and a sort of scooby-dooish plot in which you're never sure if the marsh phantoms are real or a hoax.
½ August 6, 2008
Bit of an odd one this, at first glance appears to be standard Hammer fare but actually turns out to be a kind of boys own ripping yarn about smugglers outwitting the Kings Men in a small village with minimal of supernatural trappings.
This is actaully really entertaining, Peter Cushing is superb, quite possibly one of his best roles. The plot unfolds nicely and its all done with so much joy its easy to be swept along with.
A underated gem in the Hammer cannon.
May 23, 2008
not very frightening but a good love story and again very good performance by peter cushing and oliver reed
April 9, 2008
It a real Gem of Hammer Films! Peter Cushing is really great. The movie has a real twist to it if your not familiar with the books, then its really gonna surprise you, well it surprised me!, Maybe I was just really drawn into the story to see the twist, whatever the case you cant go wrong with this, See it, its best around October & Halloween
½ November 27, 2007
A slightly new direction for Hammer studios. The american campaign tried to market it as another gruelling Hammer horror but this is actually something else. Peter Cushing is as always tremendous in his role as the vicar (nice haircut by the way). The film's strength is in it's British coast setting and some wonderful performances.
November 13, 2007
Using the guise of the horror genre to instead tell a more human-tale of military occupation, identity, and the longing to change one's inner core. Fantastic performances by both Peter Cushing and Oliver Reed, excellent pacing, and production resourcefulness make this the must-see that you won't see.
½ November 9, 2007
In 1796 the citizens of a small seaside village make a living off of smuggling spirits. They get in trouble when the king's men show up and... Oh, who cares - the plot is tosh. What matters is that the movie stars two of my favourite actors, Peter Cushing and Oliver Reed, and the ravishing (not to mention well-stacked) Yvonne Romain.
October 23, 2007
A wonderful Hammer film. It's funny, has great atmosphere... It looks kinda like a 60s Disney film, but darker. Oddly enough, the film is morally ambiguous, and I think that is one of its strong points. No criticisms that I can come up with.
September 24, 2007
Fairly good Hammer Horror classic!
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