Night Creatures (1962)

a.k.a. Captain Clegg
Peter Cushing and Oliver Reed star in Hammer's landlocked smuggling adventure. From Universal R1 Hammer Horror Series boxset.

The Film

In a small village on the south English coast, a community is involved in smuggling alcohol across from France under the noses of the King's revenue collectors. From the local Vicar, Dr. Blyss (Peter Cushing) to Jeremiah Mipps the coffin maker (Michael Ripper) and Mr. Rash the inkeeper, everyone in the town is involved in the smuggling, so when a detachment of the Navy arrive under Capt. Collier (Patrick Allen) they have to do the best they can to avoid being caught - but Collier is smart and very suspicious.
Based on the Dr. Syn stories by Russell Thorndike, the script, from Hammer co-owner Anthony Hinds (credited, as usual, as John Elder) manages to provide an entirely land based smuggling and pirate story that covers up the relative lack of budget. The story boasts a good mix of characters and strong characterisation, and although the smugglers are the 'heros', there is no black and white distinction and most of the characters are more anti-hero than hero. Although Hammer were sucessful in making adventure films, they were best known for horror and to add a touch of horror to the story, the film plays up the Night Riders from the novels into the scary, skeletal Marsh Phantoms.

Peter Graham Scott was a one shot Hammer director and performs decently well here, giving the film a good mix of camerawork and bringing a realistic and occasionally scary atmosphere to the production. Don Bank's soundtrack is typical Hammer orchestral and suits the film fine.
Peter Cushing was one of Hammer's biggest names, although already inexorably associated with the gothic horror, he had started to work in Hammer's other projects, with an interesting performance in the studio's Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960) and their dark crime thriller Cash on Demand (1961). He gives a typically outstanding performance here as the vicar Dr. Blyss and really suits the role. A young Oliver Reed plays the squire's son - after his first credited role in Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960) he quickly rose to starring roles with an impressive performance in The Curse of the Werewolf (1961) - he gets a relatively minor role here, but plays it well. The rest of the cast are decent with a few familiar faces, Patrick Allen as the Captain has an instantly recognisable voice from dozens of British television shows and commercials, while Hammer regular Michael Ripper gets a larger than normal role.

One of Hammer's best adventure movies from the period, Captain Clegg eschews the action of Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960), Pirates of Blood River (1962) or Scarlet Blade (1963) in favour of a more detailed storyline that helps it stand out above the other films, most of which suffered from very noticable plot holes. With a good cast and decent direction this film is recommended to Hammer fans and highly recommended to fans of Peter Cushing.

In brief:

Anyone famous in it? Peter Cushing - Hammer favourite, best known as Van Helsing and Baron Frankenstein.
Oliver Reed - big name British star who started his career with Hammer Films.
Directed by anyone interesting? Peter Graham Scott - a little known British director with no other films of note.
Is it scary?The Night Rider scenes have a good, scary atmosphere.
Any violence? Some blood and violence.
Any sex? No
Who is it for?
Recommended to Hammer fans and certainly for Peter Cushing fans.
Good soundtrack? Don Banks gives a typical Hammer orchestral score that suits the film well.


Visuals Original Aspect Ratio  - 2.00:1. Anamorphically Enhanced. Colour
The print does appear to have been cropped at top and bottom, suggesting that it might have been shot in a more open ratio. The picture quality is good with strong colours, some noticable grain throughout.
Audio Original English mono - Dolby Digital - sounds great, no hiss.
Subtitles English HOH, Spanish and French.
Extras None.
      AvailabilityOnly available as part of the Hammer Horror Series boxset.
      Region Region 1 - NTSC
      Other regions? None known.
      Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Print used is English language.



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      All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 4th September 2006.
      Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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