The Unexpected #1

Peter Cushing spanks Miou Miou, under the watchful eyes of Alida Valli (not pictured).


Number One in an occasional series of things you never thought you’d have to see. I’d apologise for the crummy quality of the images, but it kind of suits the film, which doesn’t work as a horror movie, comedy, musical or porno, but rather as a documentary about Cushing’s disaffected attitude to horror movies, his career, and life in general. I mean, there had to be better offers on the table than this. The Great Man’s decline into apathy would later cause him to accept a role in STAR WARS — from which his career didn’t seem to receive any kind of fillip. Actually, STAR WARS didn’t really do anything for any of its cast, somehow. For giving the thing conviction they deserved a lot of credit.

TENDER DRAC has lots of dialogue about how horror movies are dead, and how Cushing’s character, a horror movie star called MacGregor who lives in a castle (I *think* it’s Eileen Donan Castle in Scotland, seen in MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL, Zeferelli’s HAMLET, and many others) has discovered romance instead. It’s like Cushing’s version of TARGETS, as made by sex-mad European idiots.

27 Responses to “The Unexpected #1”

  1. Wow. And until now I’d thought this was Cushing’s career low (also Oliver Reed’s, though that particular honour is subject to wild debate).

  2. Oh, I remember seeing a bit of that. It’s worse, I think. The direction of TD indicates somebody who might have made something decent in a few years, once he’d grown up. (Instead, Pierre Grunstein never wrote or directed anything again, but has been very active as producer, recently giving us The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.) That African atrocity is just irredeemably embarrassing.

  3. “STAR WARS didn’t really do anything for any of its cast”

    I thought Alec Guinness got rich off it the way William Holden got rich off THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER K.

  4. Oh, they all got rich. I meant it didn’t enhance their careers, or not right away. It was considered, I guess, a film where the cast were irrelevant to its success. Look at Mark Hammill. Harrison Ford got to be a star, and the movie put him in a position to get there, but it took several more years to actually happen, until Raiders of the Lost Ark, basically.

  5. Don’t forget the David Niven Dracula!

  6. Harrison Ford was thinking of leaving the business and becoming a professional cabinet-maker before Star Wars came along. He had been plugging away in small parts for years, getting nowhere. Then — BANG!

    Mark Hammill is now out of acting entirely.

  7. Well, just about any film “made by sex-mad European idiots” is OK in my book!!

  8. Hamill still works as a voice artist. When I learned he was playing the Joker in the animated Batman I thought it was an odd choice, no doubt motivated by the desire to exploit his fame in the fantasy arena. But then I thought, he does have a sort of campy quality (witness his incredible first line reading in the first Star Wars) and, like Batman’s nemesis, he’s had reconstructive surgery on his face which has left him looking quite different. So it’s actually pretty smart!

    Despite rather suiting the low-res, faded and mangled look it currently sports, Tender Dracula would be worth releasing on DVD (worse movies are out there), and in a cleaned-up form probably looks pretty good. The more brightly-lit scenes still suggest a certain visual quality. Unfortunately, most of it takes place in a candle-lit stone castle at night.

  9. Mark was excellent in Lindsay Anderson’s Brittania Hospital

  10. Oh, hilarious! “The chicken is a great friend to man.” Working alongside Anderson’s current crush, Frank Grimes. That, and The Big Red One are what he should be honoured for.

  11. Getting spanked seems to be something of an occupational hazard for many French actresses. Poor old Peter Cushing. It’s a tough job, etc.

  12. This looks totally unmissable. For me, even bad Dracula movies are a notch above bad movies in any other genre.

  13. Miou Miou can list Cushing and Depardieu among her spankers. Not many can say the same.

    Cushing was a randy old devil by all accounts, and does tend to rather fling himself into such scenes. Restraint, dear boy! Think of England.

    David: unmissable or unwatchable? There’s such a thin dividing line. Instead I recommend you to The House on the Square: Ty Power, Dennis Price, Ann Blyth, Kathleen Byron. Atomic physics, time travel, Regency England… more soon.

  14. There’s also Assisted Living Dracula, from Aqua Teen Hunger Force:

    Many folks consider Hammil’s Joker the best of them all, though ranking a voice over performance against live action ones is problematic. He’s able to veer from camp to menace quite smoothly, as in the following clip:

  15. Christopher Says:

    Mark Hamill was quite fortunate to get what little work he did after that accident following Star Wars that almost completely altered his appearance .Somebody must have thought enough of him.

  16. Miou Miou had a pretty impressive turnaround from basically bimbo roles in Tender Dracula and Les Valseuses, to more challenging and rounded work in Tenue de Soiree (“What am I supposed to do? KNIT?”) and La Lectrice.

    Hamill, luckily, still looked more like Luke Skywalker than anyone else could!

  17. They used to have the complete version of the opening mom,ents of Tenue de Soiree up on You Tube (alas no longer) where Miou-Miou unloads all her loathing of Michel Blanc against a backbeat of Serge Gainsbourg until Depardieu lurking in the background slowly edges forward and finally smacks her upside the head.

  18. kevin mummery Says:

    One of the many joys of this site is being alerted to the existence of such films as “Tender Dracula”. Even a mediocre Peter Cushing performance is well worth viewing; too bad this one isn’t on DVD.

  19. Christopher Says:

    “…those eyes ,those sighs,they’re part of the Tender Drac..”

  20. Beautiful shot! I even like the effect of the anamorphic squeeze — enhances young Frank’s slenderness.

  21. Christopher Says:

    I know!!..I went looking for this video after I posted that comment.I just love this intro..It was the first thing I ever saw on an early color TV..The Addams Family was currently running on television and I had a bad crush on Carolyn Jones and was so disappointed when I saw her in The Tender Trap with blond short hair! &:o(

  22. Oh, Jones is awesome. A very special performer: I’m never sure if she’s actually “in the moment” of the scene she’s playing, I think she’s just in the moment of the life she’s living, enjoying being on the set with whatever actor she’s working with. Saw her in a couple of Dragnet episodes and her chemistry with Jack Webb was outrageous!

  23. Christopher Says:

    the Chameleon

  24. What incredible eyes.

  25. You just have to love those eyes on Caroline Jones!!!

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