director Peter Graham Scott
Not every Hammer film was a horror film. Looking at the poster for Captain Clegg, or as it was known in the U.S., Night Creatures, it would be easy to see where confusion could lie. Really, this poster with the skeletons riding skeleton horses is like prime Haunted Mansion style stuff.
But Captain Clegg, a far more appropriate title by the way, is a movie about 19th century British booze smugglers on the Kentish coast. Captain Clegg was the nom de guerre of a now retired pirate, who once terrorized the seven seas but is now masquerading as a reverend, using his bounty from illegal booze runs to help his local community. It’s a character adapted from early 20th century novels of Russell Thorndike, names changed to avoid legalities.
We’ve got Peter Cushing starring here as Parson Blyss/Captain Clegg, alongside Oliver Reed and Michael Ripper. And while the story isn’t at all a horror film, it has some rather pleasing horror elements, namely the skeleton riders scaring people from the marshes and the creepy inhabited scarecrow. But more than anything, it’s just a pretty darn entertaining film.
Though the film opens with the de-tonguing of a “mulatto” rapist, and the suggestion that the pirate captain is a cruel villain, really it’s utterly the other way around. Clegg turns out quite the noble bad guy, and the cruelly tortured mulatto is actually a true scoundrel.
A kind of surprisingly pleasing film.