Captain Collier (Patrick Allen) arrives in an English coastal village of Dymchurch
with his Customs Officers to investigate reports of smuggling and bootlegging,
only to find on their arrival that he must also investigate reports of the
“Marsh Phantoms” and the curse of Captain Clegg. Collier begins to suspect the
kindly village priest, the Reverend Blyss (Peter Cushing) knows more about
these local legends than first appears and by any means necessary he will
uncover the truth.
For years almost a lost film in Hammers cannon and mainly remembered by fans from
stills in Alan Frank’s book. It wasn’t until Universal released The Hammer Horror Series
box set in 2005 that fans finally began to reappraise it.
As expected Peter Cushing puts in a terrific performance as Parson Bliss and
subtly shows the dual nature of the man and Patrick Allen as Captain Collier
brings a nice air of superiority to proceedings. Michael Ripper has a meatier
role than usual which is always a bonus and Oliver Reed really shows his early
star potential. Never noticed the first time I watched it but Jack MacGowran
(Fearless Vampire Killers, The Exorcist) has a small role as the frightened man
who leads Collier and his men into the marshes to look for the Phantoms.
Hammer stalwart Bernard Robinson’s sets are a real highlight and add greatly to a film
already dripping with that unmistakeable Hammer atmosphere c/o the great Arthur
There’s a strong theme of identity that struck me on
this viewing with obviously Clegg but also with his daughter and Reed’s
character’s as well having dual personas and Clegg’s daughter not realising who
her father really is. A great film that didn’t deserve to remain lost for so
long and for my money the best of the Hammer swashbucklers.
Although based on Russell Thorndyke’s Dr Syn books Hammer were prevented from using
the character name as Disney owned the rights.
Hammer were originally planning to shoot Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend under the
title Night Creatures but when they submitted the script to the censors they
rejected it outright. So owing Universal a film they re-titled Clegg for theU.S.
Review by Phillip Nicholson
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