Sir Christopher Lee has died at the ripe old age of 93.
Or has he?
Could he be, as he was in the nine Dracula films in which he played the eponymous count, not dead but (gulp) undead? It is hard to discount the possibility.
Never having met the man, let alone known him I will not be invited to his funeral. I would refuse to go anyway. I would be too afraid – fearful that, just as his remains were about to be lowered into the grave, the coffin lid would pop open and a long bony hand would emerge, gripping the side for leverage, preceding the appearance of the count himself, wearing his patented satanic ‘fooled you’ smile.
The only time I saw one of Lee’s Dracula films – the first of the series under the Hammer label, as it happened, and called, simply, Dracula – I remember being scared half to death. Fourteen or fifteen at the time, I had never seen a horror film. So imbedded is it in my mind that I can even remember where I saw it: the Regal cinema in Hackney, at the corner of Mare Street and Well Street. I went with a friend, whom I recall being even more terrified than I was. I recall both of us cowering in our seats during certain scenes. Judging by the gasps from the audience, everyone else felt the same way. I wish I had taken a girlfriend.
Sir Christopher, who eventually became bored with playing the role, later said that first Dracula film was the best. “It was the only one I’ve done that was any good,” he recalled in an autobiography. “It’s the only one that remotely resembles the book.”
The latter point is debatable. Gary Oldman’s count in Francis Ford Coppola’s later version was closer to Bram Stoker’s description, I would say, but then who really cares?
Anyway, if in the coming months the police receive reports of young ladies coming down with strange maladies involving anaemia, or sightings of them wandering around in cemeteries, then the place to start looking for the explanation may well be Lee’s final – or not so final – resting place, wherever that may be.
You have been warned.