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Film / Rasputin the Mad Monk

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Rasputin the Mad Monk is a 1966 film directed by Don Sharp. It was released by Hammer Film Productions.

It's about, uh, Grigori Rasputin aka "the Mad Monk". In this version Rasputin (Christopher Lee) is a hard-drinking, hard-partying mystic Russian peasant who seems to have some sort of faith-healing power, as shown in the opening sequence where he heals an innkeeper's wife who is dying of fever. Rasputin gets in some trouble with the local authorities after trying to rape a girl (and slicing off her boyfriend's hand in the ensuing fight), so he heads off for St. Petersburg, capital of Tsarist Russia.

He's also got the power of hypnosis, which serves him well when he meets one Sonia (Barbara Shelley), lady-in-waiting to Tsarina Alexandra. Sonia is usually busy taking care of Tsarevich Alexei, heir to the throne, who suffers from hemophilia. Rasputin, who is quite evil, uses his hypno powers on Sonia to get her to cause Alexei to have an accident. Then Sonia recommends a healer she just happens to know, one Grigori Rasputin. In this way Rasputin gains entrance into the royal court, and control over the emperor's wife.


  • Alcohol Hic: Sonia the lightweight aristocrat, who usually only sips champagne in a genteel manner, does this after she does a vodka shot in a peasant bar.
  • Answer Cut: When the Tsarina says she wants to meet Rasputin, he tells the messenger that they can't possibly meet in Boris's shabby room. He suggests they meet "somewhere suitable". Cut to the grand, lavish dacha in the country that Alexandra has given to Rasputin for a home.
  • As You Know: Sonia and Peter's relationship is established when she says "you're the sweetest brother in the world" to him at a ball.
  • Chekhov's Gun: As Sonia and Rasputin are tussling in Boris's lab, they nearly knock over a beaker. Boris says "Look out, that's acid!" Sure enough, the beaker of acid comes into play later, when Rasputin throws it in the face of Peter.
  • Disney Villain Death: Rasputin finally dies when Ivan flings him out of a high window.
  • Dress Hits Floor: First Sonia's winter cloak hits the floor, then her dress hits the floor, and she's down to Toplessness from the Back in Rasputin's arms when he breaks the embrace to draw the curtains.
  • Drinking Game: How Rasputin and Boris meet, when Rasputin drinks Boris under the table and then carries him back to Boris's apartment. It's not altruistic, as Rasputin proceeds to take the apartment over.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Peter and Boris are doing this at the same bar after the same time, Peter in despair because his sister is Rasputin's sex toy, Boris because he's quit Rasputin's service after seeing just how evil he is. They begin plotting together.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The whole opening section of the film is a bunch of these for Rasputin. He barges into a tavern wanting alcohol. He hears that the barkeep's wife is dying, so he cures her with his Healing Hands. He celebrates by drinking an ocean of wine and then seducing a bar girl. He then slices off her boyfriend's hand with a scythe when the boyfriend tries to intervene, then tries to rape the girl, the mood having been ruined. His character is firmly dramatized.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: Rasputin is framed this way in the scene in the darkened dacha where Peter is looking for him. The lights don't come on until after Rasputin has thrown acid in Peter's face.
  • Fictionalized Death Account: It turns out that Yusupov's Real Life account of Rasputin's death was itself factionalized, as they actually simply shot him three times and threw him in the river, no poisoned cakes and wine. However, the Rasputinian Death was long believed to be how it went down. This movie fictionalizes that story further, having Rasputin kill one of his assassins after recovering from the poison, and then dying from being flung out of a window, rather than shot.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: The church bells are ringing slowly and ominously while Alexei lies on his sickbed, seemingly near death. This is contrasted with joyful chiming bells after Rasputin heals him.
  • Glasses Pull: Boris, who has been dragged along as Rasputin's somewhat grudging minion, pulls off his glasses after Rasputin uses his hypnotic powers to tell Sonia to kill himself. He promptly quits Rasputin's service.
  • Healing Hands: Despite being super-evil, Rasputin apparently does have this power, as shown in the opening sequence where he heals a woman who's on death's door from fever.
  • Historical Domain Character: Fewer than you'd think. Specifically, only Rasputin, the Tsarina Alexandra, and the Tsarevich Alexei. We don't see the tsar, we don't see Alexei's sisters, and all of Rasputin's associates are fictional characters.
  • Hypno Fool: Rasputin has begun to find Sonia boring, so he hypnotizes her and tells her she will kill herself. And she does.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: The real Rasputin was known for his piercing stare (it comes through big time in contemporary photographs.). In this movie his stare is upgraded to a hypnotic weapon which he uses to bend people to his will. He hypnotizes both Sonia and Alexandra in this way, by staring at them.
  • Idiot Ball: What does Boris do after Sonia leaves, having been hypnotized to kill herself? Nothing. What does he do when seeing her brother Peter drunk in a bar shortly thereafter? Nothing. It's only after Peter, Boris, and Ivan are plotting the murder of Rasputin that Boris mentions offhandedly that Sonia was hypno'd to commit suicide. Peter goes home and finds out that she has in fact killed herself.
  • I'll Kill You!: Sonia is hopelessly under Rasputin's spell but he's grown bored with her, and cruelly rejects her. She screams "I'll kill you!" several times as she flails at him.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Rasputin, who has already started to put the hypno-whammy on Sonia, demonstrates his dominance over her when he makes her kneel, after she comes by to apologize.
  • Noodle Incident: Boris, Rasputin's sidekick, is a former doctor who was struck off the medical register due to a "scandal". Was he performing abortions? Having sex with his patients? Was he Dr. Feelgood? The movie doesn't say.
  • Rasputinian Death: Oddly, in this version, they don't shoot him. After the poisoned wine and candy doesn't work, Boris and Ivan fight with Rasputin, with Ivan eventually chucking the mad monk out a window to his death.
  • Slumming It: How Rasputin makes his way into the Romanov court. He first meets Sonia when she, and some of her fellow court people, go to a dive bar where Rasputin is winning a drinking contest.
  • That Russian Squat Dance: Peter attempts it in a bar, but 1) he's an aristocrat and 2) he's drunk. He holds onto a chair to support himself but falls over anyway.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: In the climactic fight Rasputin kills Boris by flinging a dagger, which sticks in Rasputin's back.
  • Toplessness from the Back: A little Fanservice from Barbara Shelley as Rasputin takes off her clothes before tossing her onto the bed.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Bears little resemblance to the real story of Rasputin. The character of Sonia is entirely fictional, as is her brother Peter. Ivan the aristocrat is loosely based on Rasputin's real murderer, Prince Felix Yusupov (he lures Rasputin to his doom with an offer of sex with Ivan's sister, while the real Yusupov seems to have lured Rasputin with the prospect of meeting his beautiful young wife.)