11 July 2017

HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS. (1983) AN ICONIC HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.




HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS. (1983) DIRECTED BY PETER WALKER. PRODUCED BY MENAHEM GOLAN AND YORAM GLOBUS. SCREENPLAY BY MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. BASED ON THE NOVEL 'SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE' BY EARL DERR BIGGERS. MUSIC BY RICHARD HARVEY.
STARRING CHRISTOPHER LEE, PETER CUSHING, VINCENT PRICE, JOHN CARRADINE, SHEILA KEITH, JULIE PEASGOOD, DESI ARNAZ JR., RICHARD TODD, LOUISE ENGLISH AND RICHARD HUNTER.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

'Room for every nightmare... A nightmare in every room...'

Aw, I love this marvellous gothic horror-comedy film, famous for starring four of the most iconic horror legends of all time. Namely, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price and John Carradine, the daddy of Bobby, Keith, Bruce and David and the founding member of what you might like to call the Carradine acting dynasty.

The film was shot in Rotherfield Park, an absolutely fabulous manor house in rural Hampshire in England. It's the 'House Of The Long Shadows' all right, lit by guttering candles, furnished with all manner (all manor?!) of wonderfully gothic bits and pieces and riddled with tunnels and secret underground passages and tower bedrooms atop the winding staircases without which no self-respecting haunted house would be seen dead, as it were.

It's the perfect setting for this darkly comic murder mystery movie set in Wales, in the house known as 'Baldpate Manor' to the taciturn locals. The film-makers, in fact, couldn't have found a better, more atmospheric place to weave their cinematic web of lies, intrigue, deceit, betrayal, a little bit of lust and a giant dollop of honest-to-goodness tongue-in-cheek humour. It's a film well worth your time and effort.

The four horror greats ham it up marvellously as members of an ancient aristocratic family known as the Grisbanes. They've all converged on the magnificent old mansion house in the middle of a thunderstorm to commemorate a grim and grisly deed that took place in the house forty years ago on this very night. It turns out to be a momentous family reunion indeed...

John Carradine (1906-1988) plays the oh-so-prim-and-proper English paterfamilias, complete with one of those terrific old velvety smoking caps with the tassels hanging down from them that you don't see anymore. 

His sons are played by Vincent Price (1911-1993), who camps it up as theatrically as only he could do, and a touchingly old-looking and humorously-lithping Peter Cushing (1913-1994).

Christopher Lee (1922-2015), as handsome and as forbidding as Count Dracula himself, plays an upper-class property developer called Corrigan who has gate-crashed the Grisbanes' grisly commemoration dinner for reasons of his own...

Cult horror actress Sheila Keith (1920-2004), she of FRIGHTMARE fame, does a top-notch job of playing the only daughter of the Grisbane family. In her stiffly-starched black dress and severe hairstyle, she's straight out of the Victorian era and therefore utterly perfect in the role.

Desi Arnaz Jr., himself of good Hollywood stock, plays the American writer who holes up at Baldpate Manor for a couple of days to write a completed novel and thereby win a bet with his agent. A twenty-thousand-dollar bet, to be precise, and most definitely not to be sniffed at.

Julie Peasgood, the blonde actress from long-running Scouser soap opera BROOKSIDE (I used to live for it!), is cast as the essential love interest. In the lovely long documentary that accompanies the long-awaited DVD release of this cult horror-comedy, she acknowledges how absolutely lucky, lucky, lucky she was to have been included in the one and only film project ever to have involved the four horror greats. Damn right she was lucky, haha. It was the experience of a lifetime by anyone's standards and only a handful of people were privileged enough to receive invites, as it were, to the party.

The film, directly or indirectly, references a load of other films in an affectionate way, everything from PSYCHO to THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, from GONE WITH THE WIND to THE OLD DARK HOUSE and just about every horror picture ever made that featured a revolving bookcase leading to a secret tunnel by which the killer could freely roam about gaining access to every room in the house and to all his hapless victims, too.

The murders are all terrifically gruesome and grisly and the plot twists really do come thick and fast. So much so, in fact, that to this day I still don't understand the very final plot twist, the one that comes just as the film is ending. Never mind, though. It doesn't really matter.

HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS is a superb piece of horror memorabilia that every collector should own. The four horror legends have great fun sending each other- and themselves- up, to the point where they're almost parodying themselves and their old roles, and the fun they're having really does show.

What a labour of love. What a smashing souvenir to have of a wonderful old era of film that can never come again, what a perfect- and permanent- reminder of those golden days. Watch it and love it. How could any of us horror fans do otherwise...?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







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