See it with someone with warm hands has a more than devilish meaning, seems like.
Also – a blurb from Louella Parsons? Was Hedda Hopper out of town?
I’ve seen this photo and others like it a lot in recent days since the death of iconic horror film actor Christopher Lee.
This pic and similar ones show Lee, John Carradine, Peter Cushing and Vincent Price – probably half the pantheon of horror film greats (the others being, arguably, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Sr. and Jr.) in one photo.
The four appeared in only one film together, the 1983 thriller “House of Long Shadows.” The movie was – for such an old-fashioned assemblage of actors – an old-fashioned story about mysterious goings-on in a “haunted” house and was based on the 1913 “Seven Keys to Baldpate” by Earl Derr Biggers.
I saw the movie in theaters – i was reviewing back at the time – and remember enjoying that it included the four actors in the cast but didn’t think much of it beyond that. It starred Desi Arnaz Jr., for pete’s sake.
But with Lee’s passing being a reminder to us that an era is over – maybe a couple of eras, considering that Carradine’s time in movies extended back to “Bride of Frankenstein,” as the huntsman who scares Karloff’s monster out of the blind man’s cottage – “House of Long Shadows” takes on special affection and significance for us.
A few days back I noted that AMC has concentrated on more modern movies, including the “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” series, for its Halloween fare.
The classics are left to TCM (Turner Classic Movies), which has an interesting mix of films set to air on Oct. 31.
Much of the morning and early afternoon hours are devoted to classic Hammer films of the 1950s and 1960s, including “Curse of Frankenstein,” “The Mummy” and “Dracula, Prince of Darkness.”
The evening hours are devoted to Vincent Price, starring in “Pit and the Pendulum,” “Masque of the Red Death” and “Haunted Palace.”
There are some offbeat choices mixed in through the day. “Horror Express,” a 1972 “missing link” movie starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and … Telly Savalas is a good example of that.
It’s a little disappointing that the old Universal horror classics aren’t included this year. But maybe TCM decided those were played out.
Anyway, here’s the schedule for Oct. 31:
|6:00 AM||CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE (1957)|
|A scientist’s attempts to create life unleash a bloodthirsty monster.
C-83 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format
|7:30 AM||MUMMY, THE (1959)|
|A resurrected mummy stalks the archaeologists who defiled his tomb.
C-88 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format
|9:00 AM||HORROR CASTLE (1963)|
|A Holocaust survivor tortures women in the dungeons of an ancient castle.
C-84 mins, TV-14, Letterbox Format
|10:30 AM||CASTLE OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE (1964)|
|A traveling circus entertains a medieval count who uses them in his bizarre experiments.
BW-90 mins, TV-14, Letterbox Format
|12:15 PM||DRACULA, PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1965)|
|Four travelers unwittingly revive the bloodsucking count.
C-90 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format
|1:45 PM||DEVIL’S BRIDE, THE (1968)|
|Small town Satanists lure an innocent brother and sister into their coven.
C-96 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format
|3:45 PM||DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1969)|
|Dracula goes after the niece of the monsignor who destroyed his castle.
C-92 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format
|5:30 PM||HORROR EXPRESS (1972)|
|An anthropologist discovers a frozen monster which he believes may be the Missing Link.
C-88 mins, TV-14, Letterbox Format
|7:15 PM||NOW PLAYING NOVEMBER (2013) (2013)|
BW-21 mins, TV-PG, CC,
|8:00 PM||PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1961)|
|A young man investigates his sister’s death in a mysterious castle.
C-80 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format
|9:30 PM||HAUNTED PALACE, THE (1963)|
|After inheriting a decaying estate, a man discovers his family’s deadly secret.
C-87 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format
|11:15 PM||MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, THE (1964)|
|A sadistic nobleman isolates his court from a world stricken with the plague.
C-89 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format
|1:00 AM||ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES, THE (1971)|
|A madman uses the plagues of ancient Egypt to avenge his wife’s death.
C-95 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format
|2:45 AM||TWICE-TOLD TALES (1963)|
|A poisonous young beauty, the secrets of eternal life and a haunted house chill this collection of Nathaniel Hawthorne stories.
C-120 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format
|5:00 AM||TOMB OF LIGEIA, THE (1964)|
|A man’s obsession with his dead wife leads to trouble for his new bride.
C-82 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format
Today, May 26, was the 100th anniversary of the birth of British actor Peter Cushing – best known in some quarters as Imperial Gov. Tarkin, who holds Darth Vader’s leash rather loosely in the 1977 classic “Star Wars” – so I marked the date by watching one of his later horror films, “Madhouse.”
It isn’t a great role for Cushing, who died in 1994 after a long, distinguished and beloved career. He’s a supporting player to Vincent Price, who stars as Paul Toombes, an aging actor lured out of retirement to reprise his role as Dr. Death, anti-hero of a series of horror thrillers.
Released in 1974, “Madhouse” had the distinction of being the last movie Price made for American International Pictures, home of the classic adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe in which Price starred in the 1960s. The movie business was changing even by then and AIP was looking to replace Price with Robert Quarry, who was the third male lead here. Quarry had made a little splash as Count Yorga, a modern-day vampire, and it’s said AIP and producer Samuel Arkoff thought he, rather than Price, was the future.
But horror movies were about to see a huge change. Long the province of a particular breed of actor, like Price and Cushing, and director, like Roger Corman, and producer, like Arkoff, horror films were proven to be worthy of mainstream attention in 1973 when “The Exorcist” was a huge hit. Low-budget horror movies were still drive-in theater fare and would be for several years to come, but by the time “Madhouse” rolled around, people were looking for the new, the young and the shocking in their horror films.
“Madhouse” also held the distinction of being able to evoke the nostalgia, perhaps the last of its kind for its type of film, for earlier horror films. It could do this because of Price’s long-running screen presence. At various points, Cushing and Quarry screen some of Toombes’ earlier horror films, and they show scenes from some of Price’s films, particularly the Poe pictures conveniently (and inexpensively) owned by Arkoff and AIP. The presence of those clips led director Jim Clark to acknowledge former Price co-stars Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff in the opening credits. It’s a nice gesture but also makes me wonder: Did Clark and Arkoff think the presence of those old-school names would add to the luster of “Madhouse?”
Cushing, whose role as Toombes’ longtime friend is so obviously an attempt to mislead that the final shot has someone referring to a red herring, might be a familiar face to legions of filmgoers from “Star Wars” but is best known to his many fans for his roles in British horror films made by Hammer studios beginning in the 1950s.
Cushing – whose fan club I belonged to in the 1970s and 1980s – sometimes played Dracula nemesis Van Helsing and sometimes played monster maker Dr. Frankenstein in the Hammer outings. He and cohort Christopher Lee always added a touch of class to every movie in which they appeared.
Happy birthday, Peter.
It was the spring of 1982 and I was in an unexpectedly quiet spot in Chicago’s O’Hare airport, waiting for a plane. And, just as unexpectedly, there in front of me was horror movie icon Vincent Price.
I had been in Chicago on a press junket for the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie “Conan the Barbarian,” which was due to come out in just a few weeks. I’ve previously recounted my brief meeting with Schwarzenegger, who was far from a household name at this point.
Likewise, Vincent Price wasn’t a household name anymore. Except in my household, and those of other old horror movie fans around the world.
Price was about 71 by this point and his career had, in some ways, peaked a couple of decades earlier. His series of classic 1960s horror films, many adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe movies, were followed by a series of 1970s films that, by virtue of being offbeat, had given his later career a boost. Price had won critical acclaim and made fans with the “Dr. Phibes” movies and “Theater of Blood,” in which he played a washed-up horror movie actor plagued by a series of murders … or was he the murderer?
I loved the Poe movies and looooved the “Phibes” films, which were modern and old-fashioned at the same time.
But by 1982, the type of horror movies in which Price had starred had fallen out of fashion. This was the period in which every hack filmmaker was imitating John Carpenter’s great 1978 “Halloween” with cheap and tawdry slasher films.
Maybe I was emboldened by having just talked to Schwarzenegger and the “Conan” crew, but I knew I had to talk to Price.
He was, improbably, alone. No entourage. Not even a traveling companion.
I crossed from the bank of seats where I had been about to sit and approached him slowly. He looked up and smiled and seemed to encourage me to come closer.
I introduced myself, told him what I was doing in Chicago and asked if I could sit with him for a moment.
Even though by this point in his career he must have been approached by strangers thousands of times, he welcomed me graciously and gestured for me to sit down.
We made small talk — at least when I wasn’t telling him how much I loved his work — although I don’t recall if he said why he was traveling.
I remember thinking how jealous Jim, Brian, Derek and my other movie fan friends would be about my opportunity to meet one of our favorite stars so I asked if he would mind if I got out my tape recorder and recorded our conversation.
Price, so friendly in our few minutes together, balked at this.
“I think it would attract too much attention,” he told me.
By this point, a few other people had arrived at the gate for their flights and had noticed Price. He was right, and I nodded.
We spoke for a few more minutes, although by this point Price was distracted by the other people around us. Before long, a woman came up to where we sat and asked if she could take his picture. (This was in the days before cell phones, of course, and the woman had a camera, which was certain to attract even more attention.) Price smiled a little tightly and gave his permission.
Feeling almost guilty that I had started this snowball of recognition, I thanked Price for spending some time in conversation with me and headed back to the seats closest to my gate. He smiled and thanked me for my time.
Price spoke to a few of the people near him but before long excused himself, probably to go to a nearby airport restaurant. I didn’t see him again before my flight left.
Although Price seemed almost a curiosity to the crowd in the airport that day, he achieved yet another level of pop culture fame just a few months later. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album and music video, featuring Price’s spoken word “rap,” was released in November of that year. Although he wasn’t seen in the insanely popular video, his distinctive voice was heard, and anyone who wondered whatever happened to Vincent Price had their question answered.
I was lucky enough to have found out, a few months earlier, whatever happened to Vincent Price. And in the process, found that he was a gracious and generous man.
I didn’t get a chance to meet Price, who died in 1993, again. But he’ll live on in my memory from our airport meeting that day in 1982.