Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Versatility of Caroline Munro

No, no, I'm not talking about a new perfume she's launching, like Meryl Streep did some years back. I'm talking about the other kind.

After perusing The Carfax Abbey, a wonderful blog in tribute to horror films, I remembered why Caroline Munro is one of my favorite recent finds. Despite the fact this actress has remained under the radar for anyone not obsessed with B-movie Hammer Queens from the '60s/'70s, Munro has run the gamut in the roles she's played.

From lost Lenores...

To doomed, hippie go-go dancers...

To Arabian damsels-in-distress...

 (John Phillip Law was pretty smokin' in this movie, by the way. Facial hair works for him.)

To some kind of...what is she? A gypsy sidekick vampire hunter? I dunno...

To conniving Bond villain henchwenches...

To Barbarella-ish/female Han Solo /dominatrix space heroines...

(That collar is very integral to the plot, don't worry)

To, yes, even a Goody Two Shoes of sorts.

I admire this lady. Save for her turn as the baddie Naomi in The Spy Who Loved Me, she was never in any super blockbusters. Few of these films are even really remembered these days outside of their aforementioned cult followings. Plus, she refused to ever go nude in any of her films, which--let's face it--is a rarity in her genre. Yet this Hammer dame is incredibly beloved in her still sizable fanbase. Even though she turned down roles in Hollywood to stay in England and remain close to her family (she's sane, in other words), she's a constant at Hammer Conventions. I've read nothing but glowing reports from fans who've met her, saying she's a wonderfully warm and genuine human being.

If I were going for any sort of film career, I'd want--well, maybe not some of the movies she's made, but essentially the level of fame she has: just obscure enough to avoid parasitical paparazzi and tabloid reporters, but beloved enough in my own genre that the devoted fans I do have are enthusiastic about my work and are lovably nerdy and appreciative. My ego is flexible, in other words.

So long story short, I think I've found my new obscure (though not totally obscure) B-Movie Queen to idolize. There've been quite a few--Elsa Lanchester, Lisa Marie, Edwige Fenech, Sue Lyon, Arlene Martel, Marian Thompson, Dolly Haas, Marisa Berenson, Lara Parker, Frances Dee, Jessica Harper, Sherry Jackson, and a gallery of others I can't remember just now. Have I seen every single movie or TV show these gals have acted in? Hell no. What instead draws me to a lot of these actresses is probably what draws a lot of Audrey Heburn fangirls to her stuff--a certain iconic style, whether in their looks or personality, that just resonates in the clips and pics I've seen.

Munro, even in awful '70s perms or wearing an overabundance of eye-makeup, always carries herself with an engaging, innocent class alongside her sex appeal. She has a very expressive face, and that helps sell her performances even when producers inexplicably dub her (why would they do that? She's released singles, fer Gadssakes). In a Hammer Horror flick, an expressive face is just as good as any method actor. Gets the job done.

And about those looks of hers. She's like God head-butted Vivien Leigh and Claudia Cardinale together and smushed them into one really, really pretty person.


I'll leave you with two videos I found yesterday while I was researching Ms. M. The first is a rare treat from moggy23. It's a longish segment of a 1966 TV show called "A Whole Scene Going" that predicts the wild, hot new fads teens should expect in the coming year (including skateboarding! So foreign and exotic, from before the times every jerk on campus rode one to class, and I had to get out of their way to avoid getting run over! Sweet!).

Munro, at age sixteen, had just won Britain's "Face of the Year," and she's analyzed by the snippy hostess at about 2:00. I'm sure she loved being called just "a continuation of 1965." Then at about 4:40 she's awkwardly listening to The Who up on her pedestal in front of the audience. It's a great clip showcasing the crossroads between The Early Mod 1960s and The Late Psychedilic 1960s, and the young Munro is very cute in it.

The second is an insane '80s Meat Loaf music video, compliments of RCAFFBWurzel, to "If You Really Want To." It's...well, it's this.

I'm not gonna lie, I love everything about that. Added to Munro's versatility list, I guess, is the ability to play Office Manager/Edwardian Vampire/Shoulder Pad McHairdo.


  1. How did I not realize that it was Caroline Munro in "Goody Two Shoes?" Seriously, that's a horror nerd failure of the first order. I'm an idiot.

    Oh, and nice blog you've got here. Totally followed.

  2. Don't feel too bad. She's kind of a chameleon.

    Thank you! Right back at you, of course.

  3. Great blog and I can confirm that she's a very lovely lady in person -

    1. That's a wonderful story, Mark! Little Dude knows how to woo the ladies. She really is still so beautiful. That hair!