Today is Peter Cushing’s birthday. Tomorrow is Christopher Lee’s.
What better way to celebrate than by sharing a scene that I love that features both of them? 1973’s The Satanic Rites of Dracula was one of Hammer’s final Dracula films and, with the action somewhat awkwardly moved to the modern day, it’s also one of the weaker entries. But it does feature Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, playing Dracula and the latest Van Helsing, and it’s worth watching for that reason.
Though they often played enemies onscreen, Cushing and Lee were best friends offscreen. Lee often said that he never really recovered from Cushing’s death in 1994. Cushing may have spent his career playing villains and obsessive monster hunters but he was said to actually be a kind and rather shy man, an old-fashioned gentlemen who unexpectedly found his fame in horror. Whereas Lee was a serious student of the esoteric, Cushing preferred to spend his time gardening.
In the scene below, Cushing’s Van Helsing confronts Lee’s Dracula and it’s just fun to watch these two old friends go at each other. One gets the feeling that Cushing and Lee had a few laughs after the cameras stopped rolling.