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The Best Christopher Lee Movies And How To Watch Them

Christopher Lee in Lord of the Rings
(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

No, this isn’t the Mandela Effect or anything like that. Sir Christopher Lee didn’t JUST die. Lee died all the way back in 2015. That said, a legend like him never really dies, since Christopher Lee’s best movies, like The Lord of the Rings, will live on forever.

The thing, though, is that he was more than just an actor. Even though he was probably best known for playing villainous characters, like his role as Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film, The Man With the Golden Gun, he also served in the Royal Air Force, and was even a heavy metal singer. He lived to the ripe old age of 93, and was a badass throughout not only his acting career, but also his entire life. He considered his best performance to be in the movie Jinnah, where he played Muhammad Ali Jinnah, which is also a great movie. So, here are some more of Christopher Lee’s greatest films, and where to find them.

Christopher Lee as Dracula in Dracula: Prince of Darkness

(Image credit: Hammer)

Horror of Dracula (1958)

Directed by Terence Fisher, and costarring Peter Cushing, Horror of Dracula is a somewhat close adaptation to the Bram Stoker novel. Vampire hunter Van Helsing (Cushing) is on the search for his missing friend, only to find that he’s already become a victim of Dracula. Now, he has to try to prevent his friend’s fiancé from also becoming the Count’s next meal.

There are seven Hammer Dracula films starring Christopher Lee, but Horror of Dracula is arguably the best. Lee’s Dracula is very different from both Bela Lugosi’s and Gary Oldman’s, and his performance is a nice in-between, both sensual, and also ravenous. There’s an argument to be made that Lee is the best Dracula ever put to screen, and if you want to decide for yourself, then Horror of Dracula is a great place to start.

Buy/Rent Horror of Dracula on Amazon.

Christopher Lee in The Mummy

(Image credit: Universal)

The Mummy (1959)

Following the release of Horror of Dracula came this Hammer update to the Universal classic. Again directed by Terence Fisher and pairing Peter Cushing against Christopher Lee (This time as the son of an archeologist and the Mummy, respectively), this Hammer classic is about a mummy who wants revenge for the desecration of his tomb. But this mummy is also being controlled, and he will stop at nothing until his vengeance is satiated.

I could have picked The Curse of Frankenstein since Christopher Lee also plays the monster in that movie, but I think Lee is even better in this one since he plays two roles, one as Kharis back when he was still alive, and also as the Mummy himself. He’s amazing in both roles, and surprisingly scary (and even sympathetic) in a way that I don’t think Dracula is. Out of all the Hammer films that brought the Universal monsters to brilliant color, I think The Mummy might be the best, and it’s my favorite Lee performance out of the many.

Buy/Rent The Mummy on Amazon.

Christopher Lee in The Wicker Man

(Image credit: British Lion Films)

The Wicker Man (1973)

Directed by Robin Hardy and costarring Edward Woodward and Britt Ekland, The Wicker Man is about a Christian cop (Woodward) who arrives on an island full of pagans to locate a missing girl. But, he bites off more than he can chew once he gets there, especially once he meets the Pagan leader, Lord Summerisle, played by Christopher Lee.

If you like Midsommar then you should do yourself a favor and watch The Wicker Man. Christopher Lee’s performance is a measured one that goes dark at just the right times. There was a remake in 2006, with Nicholas Cage, that is…well, just watch the Christopher Lee version instead. Trust me. It’s the superior picture.

Stream The Wicker Man on Shudder.
Buy/Rent The Wicker Man on Amazon.

 

Christopher Lee in The Last Unicorn

(Image credit: Jensen Farley Pictures)

The Last Unicorn (1982)

In this animated movie based on the novel, a unicorn (voiced by Mia Farrow) goes on a quest to save the other unicorns from the vile King Haggard (voiced by Christopher Lee), all while set to the music of America!

Before Christopher Lee was Saruman, he was King Haggard, and his plot to destroy all the unicorns in the world might be just as, if not even more, evil than his plot to have the one ring to rule them all. If you want to see Lee in his first major, non-horror, fantasy role, then look no further than this hidden gem.

Stream The Last Unicorn on Starz.
Buy/Rent The Last Unicorn on Amazon.

Christopher Lee in Gremlins 2

(Image credit: Warner Bros. )

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

Directed by Joe Dante and costarring Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates, this sequel to the classic original, is absolutely bonkers. It’s about the gremlins overtaking a skyscraper, and the fight to keep them from overtaking the entire city.

Christopher Lee plays the chief researcher inside the building, Dr. Cushing (ICWYDT) Catheter, and he’s trying his best to reason with the gremlins. He has one of the best scenes in the film involving a particularly smart gremlin, and this movie just proves what a knack Lee had for comedy.

Stream Gremlins 2: The New Batch on HBO Max.
Buy/Rent Gremlins 2: The New Batch on Amazon.

Christopher Lee in Attack of the Clones

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

In this second installment of the Star Wars prequels saga, we find the separatist movement advancing, as well as the beginning of the Clone Wars, which was only mentioned in passing in the first movie, Star Wars: Episode 4: A New Hope. Directed by George Lucas and costarring Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ewan McGregor, and a whole host of others, Attack of the Clones advances the plot in pushing Anakin Skywalker closer to his ultimate heel turn as Darth Vader.

Often thought of to be one of the weaker entries in the Star Wars canon, I picked this movie because we see Christopher Lee as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus at his most intimidating, as he takes on Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Yoda, in the most epic battle in the entire movie. The rest of the film might not be much to write home about, but that battle sure is something.

Stream Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones on Disney+.
Buy/Rent Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones on Amazon.

Christopher Lee in The Two Towers

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

There are three Lord of the Rings films, but Christopher Lee’s presence is the most deeply felt in this middle chapter of The Lord of the Rings saga, The Two Towers. Directed by Peter Jackson and costarring Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Elijah Wood, and many others, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers finds the fellowship from the first movie broken up and on their own separate paths to defeat the evil eye, Sauron.

The second movie is where Saruman is holed up in his tower and waging war from above. Christopher Lee exudes malevolence and he’s at his most evil in this movie. We wouldn’t see his ultimate demise until the third picture (and only in the extended cut), but if you want to see Lee at his most sinister, then this is the film to watch.

Stream The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on HBO Max.
Buy/Rent The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on Amazon.

Christopher Lee in Corpse Bride

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures )

Corpse Bride (2005)

In this stop motion film directed by Tim Burton and costarring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, a young man set to be married to a woman he doesn’t really know ends up accidentally marrying a corpse. Chills (and comical thrills) ensue.

Christopher Lee isn’t in the film long, but he plays the pivotal role of the pastor who actually sets the conflict in motion when he demands that Depp’s character remember his vows, which he says in a forest that awakens the corpse bride herself. Lee’s hard voice does sound incredibly serious, and it’s little wonder that his small appearance is still so memorable.

Stream Corpse Bride on HBO Max.
Buy/Rent Corpse Bride on Amazon.

Christopher Lee in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Also directed by Tim Burton and co-starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, this remake is a bright and colorful adaptation of the famous Roald Dahl novel of the same name. The story isn’t nearly as dark as the 1971 original film, and this version also features a subplot involving Willy Wonka’s childhood, with none other than Christopher Lee as Wonka’s severe dentist father.

And, Lee is probably the best part in this entire movie. Though he really only has two scenes, his presence looms over Wonka’s character throughout the entire story. Whenever Wonka thinks of the other kids’ parents, he usually has these harrowing flashbacks, which makes sense if Christopher Lee was actually his father. Of course, we learn that Lee’s character wasn’t nearly as bad as Wonka remembered him to be, but it makes for a sweet moment in an already super sweet film.

Stream Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Netflix.
Stream Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on HBO Max.
Buy/Rent Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Amazon.

Christopher Lee in Hugo

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures )

Hugo (2011)

Finally, this Martin Scorsese film, costarring Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Sacha Baron Cohen, is about an orphan (Butterfield) who tries to learn the mystery behind a robot. There’s more to it that involves the history of cinema itself, but that’s the gist.

Hugo is one of Martin Scorsese’s best films, and Lee plays a small, but vital role as a bookshop owner who seems to know just the right books to lend out, and at just the right times. It’s interesting that with all the mean and nasty characters Lee played over the years, one of his later roles was a nice one.

Stream Hugo on Hulu.
Buy/Rent Hugo on Amazon.

And, these are some of Christopher Lee’s best movies. How many of them have you seen? To learn more about upcoming 2022 movies, make sure to swing by here often.

Lover of Avatar (The Last Airbender, not the blue people), video games, and anything 90s, he will talk your ear off about Godzilla, so don't get him started.