Captain Clegg was a notorious pirate, hunted down by the King's men (led by Patrick Allen) and killed by hanging. His body was then buried in the grounds of a church in a small coastal town. But his spirit lives on. When the King's men visit the town, looking for alcohol that has been smuggled in from France, the locals are seen to be a cunning group that Clegg would be proud of. Even the local reverend (Peter Cushing) is in on the act. In fact, he's pretty much leading the sneaky revolt. With rumours of creatures in the surrounding marshlands scaring people to death, the town soon becomes quite a claustrophobic hotbed of paranoia, fear and anger.
Written by Anthony Hinds, with some help from a tale by Russell Thorndike (and extra dialogue by Barbara S. Harper), Captain Clegg is up there with the very best Hammer movies. Mixing in some wonderful, atmospheric moments with many scenes that feature some of the best Hammer actors doing some of their best work, this may not be an outright horror movie, but it retains that quintessential Hammer feel.
Director Peter Graham Scott handles everything well, helped by the great design work, the cinematography by Arthur Grant, and that glorious cast.
Cushing is always worth watching, of course, but this role is such a delight that it's one of my new favourites from his filmography. Allen isn't a match for the master, but he holds himself with dignity as he and his men are constantly given the runaround by the locals. A handsome Oliver Reed does well, and is matched nicely to a gorgeous Yvonne Romain for one story strand. Martin Benson and Derek Francis both do fine in their smaller roles, but the undeniable highlight for fans is seeing Michael Ripper having so much fun in what may be his best role.
If, like me, you have made the mistake of not seeing this movie yet then rectify the situation immediately. You won't regret it.