Pre-revolutionary Russia. The peasant landlord of a country tavern is nursing his terribly ill wife. Enter Rasputin!
He promptly heals the landlords wife, takes advantage of the landlord’s hospitality to get riotously drunk, has a fight, has a dance, ravages a wench, cuts someones hand off, jumps through a roof onto a waiting horse, shouts “Hurrah!” and gallops away.
Rasputin, as played by Christopher Lee, is basically a Lord Flashheart for the grunge generation. In this historically inaccurate (I assume. I hope!) Hammer offering, we see him cut a swathe through pre-revolutionary Russian society, shagging, drinking, fighting and shouting in an incredibly deep voice as he goes.
Christopher Lee is nothing short of perfect in this role. Tall,loud, athletic, with mad staring eyes and a huge false beard - exactly the kind of guy that you'd make a point of avoiding in bus stops (not that there were any bus stops in pre-revolutionary Russia of course. Which I suspect may have been one of the underlying causes of the revolution. But that's another post).
The film has a fine supporting cast, including everyone’s favourite MILF Barbara Shelley, who falls under Rasputin’s spell and hops into bed with him at any given opportunity, before he casts her aside in the cruellest fashion.
Rasputin gets his comeuppance of course. It’s not easy to take him down though, the hard-as-nails bastard that he is, but goodness prevails, and the Mad, Bad monk is last seen lying twisted and broken on the snow... ... having fallen out of a second story window. After being drugged. And beaten up. And poisoned. And stabbed. And fed loads of chocolates of the poisoned variety.
Personally, I would have added a final scene where Rasputin jumps back up, straightens his beard, swigs a bottle of vodka, jumps on his horse, shouts "Hurrah!" and gallops off. But you can’t have everything I suppose…