Rasputin the Mad Monk

For the 1932 John Barrymore film, see Rasputin and the Empress.
Rasputin, the Mad Monk

Original French film poster
Directed by Don Sharp
Produced by Anthony Nelson Keys
Written by Anthony Hinds
Starring Christopher Lee
Barbara Shelley
Francis Matthews
Richard Pasco
Suzan Farmer
Music by Don Banks
Cinematography Michael Reed
Edited by Roy Hyde
Distributed by Warner-Pathé Distributors (UK)
20th Century-Fox (US)
Release dates
6 March 1966 (UK)
6 April 1966 (US)
Running time
91 min.
Country UK
Language English
Budget ₤100,000 (approx)[1]

Rasputin, the Mad Monk is a 1966 Hammer film directed by Don Sharp. It stars Christopher Lee as Grigori Rasputin, the Russian peasant-mystic who gained great influence with the Tsars prior to the Russian Revolution. It also features Barbara Shelley, Francis Matthews, Suzan Farmer, Richard Pasco, Dinsdale Landen and Renée Asherson. The story is largely fictionalized, although some of the events leading up to Rasputin's assassination are very loosely based on Prince Yusupov's account of the story. For legal reasons, the character of Yusupov was replaced by Ivan (Matthews). Yusupov was still alive when the film was released, dying on 27 September 1967.

The emphasis is on Rasputin's terrifying powers both to work magic and to seduce women.


The story begins in the Russian countryside, where Rasputin heals the sick wife of an innkeeper (Derek Francis). When he is later hauled before an Orthodox bishop for his sexual immorality and violence, the innkeeper springs to the monk's defense. Rasputin protests that he is sexually immoral because he likes to give God "sins worth forgiving" (loosely based on Rasputin's rumored connection to Khlysty, an obscure Christian sect which believed that those deliberately committing fornication, then repenting bitterly, would be closer to God). He also claims to have healing powers in his hands, and is unperturbed by the bishop's accusation that his power comes from Satan.

Rasputin heads for St. Petersburg, where he forces his way into the home of Dr Zargo (Pasco), from where he begins his campaign to gain influence over the Tsarina (Asherson). He manipulates one of the Tsarina's ladies-in-waiting, Sonia (Shelley), whom he uses to satisfy his voracious sexual appetite and gain access to the Tsarina. He places her in a trance to injure the czar's heir Alexei, so that Rasputin can be called to court to heal him. After, this success, he hypnotizes the Tsarina to replace her existing doctor with Zargo (who has previously been struck off after a scandal).

However, Rasputin's ruthless pursuit of wealth and prestige, and increasing control over the royal household attracts opposition. Sonia's brother, Peter (Landen), enraged by Rasputin's seduction of his sister, enlists the help of Ivan to bring about the monk's downfall. Peter, in challenging the monk, is horribly scarred by acid thrown in his face, and suffers a lingering death.

Tricking Rasputin into thinking his sister Vanessa (Farmer) is interested in him, Ivan arranges a supposed meeting. However, Zargo has poisoned the wine and chocolates, which the Monk starts to consume. Soon Rasputin collapses, but the poison is not enough to kill him. In the ensuing struggle between the three men, Zargo is stabbed by Rasputin and quickly dies. Ivan manages to throw Rasputin out of the window to his death.


A novelization of the film was written by John Burke as part of his 1967 book The Second Hammer Horror Film Omnibus.



  1. Marcus Hearn & Alan Barnes, The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films, Titan Books, 2007 p 96
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