Night Creatures (1962)
Captain Clegg (AKA: Night Creatures) is a Hammer-Major production in Eastman Color, it’s directed by Peter Graham Scott with a screenplay written by John Elder. It stars Peter Cushing, Yvonne Romain, Patrick Allen, Oliver Reed, Michael Ripper and David Lodge. Music is by Don Banks and cinematography by Arthur Grant.
“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. 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.”
Hammer’s film is actually a remake of a little known 1937 film called Doctor Syn that starred George Arliss as the title character and featured Margaret Lockwood in support. For their take on the Captain Clegg/Marsh Phantoms story, Hammer craft a colourful Gothic like mystery/thriller that contains horror elements. It’s certainly not overtly horror, something that has undoubtedly threw some horror seekers venturing into the film for the first time. This may explain why to a large extent it remains a largely unknown Hammer picture, which doesn’t as yet have a DVD release in the country of its birth! The story is a very good one with smugglers, murders, romantic passions, ghostly apparitions and duplicitous characters. All given an excellent period production design by Bernard Robinson for the interiors, while the exteriors are nicely filmed out of the village of Denham in South Buckinghamshire.
Of course none of the period flavourings and narrative intrigue would mean much if the acting wasn’t up to scratch. Which on reflection is another reason why this is something of a criminally under seen Hammer picture. For not only does it have Cushing turning in one of his best performances (blending dandy fop with a crafty undercurrent), it also has a cast around him that are fully committed and effective in their roles. Which nicely includes Hammer stalwart Michael Ripper (as Mipps the undertaker) getting a more meatier role than usual. Patrick Allen (Dial M for Murder) is imposing as the officious Captain Collier, Martin Benson (The King and I) is suitably shifty as Rash and David Lodge (The Cockleshell Heroes) adds the muscle presence as Bosun. Standing out is Olly Reed as Harry, wonderfully dominating his scenes, he does a neat line in brooding, while Romain (The Curse of the Werewolf) is the classic Hammer wench type, pretty with a heaving bosom, she induces lusty lustations in Harry and Rash.