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Tag Archives: Peter Cushing

Is This a Frankenpost?

I need a new approach to blogging, but today is not going to be it. Today will be a common or garden Slacker Saturday Post. I have often been offered the good advice of don’t post every day; post when you have something to say. It is, as I say, good advice, but quite frankly, Homey don’t play dat. I have to try my best to post every day.

“Not post every day? Back off, Satan!”

Since that first paragraph was so long, I thought to add a picture. This is Peter Cushing, fighting vampires. I have been enjoying several Hammer Horror films featuring Cushing. He is fine, yes.

Another Hammer icon.

Here is Christopher Lee, as one of the vampires Cushing was chasing. Last night was Dracula, tonight was Frankenstein. Alas, I do not have any pictures of Hammer Frankenstein. Other Frankensteins, I have a few.

Here’s one!
And there is always FrankenTREE!

I am not sure where the above picture of Frankenstein is from, but Frankentree is in my front yard. When I am back on my laptop, I will look for pictures of Hammer Frankenstein. In the meantime, Happy Saturday and stay monstrous!

Is this Post Classic? Or Just Horror?

The Masters.

As I was looking through my Media Library for something for a Throwback Thursday Post, I came across this gem. I have been watching a lot of Halloween movies lately. Of course, I love Halloween movies all year long. The above picture, in case you didn’t know (and I feel so badly for you if you do not!), shows Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Vincent Price .

Gotta get me an outfit like that.

This is a shot from Mark of the Vampire, which I watched last night. It features Lionel Barrymore, another favorite of mine and not just for horror movies.

Anybody could lose their head sometime.

I add in Peter Lorre and Vincent Price. I am following the theme of horror classics, but I seem to be a little disjointed about it. Am I disjointed enough for this to be a Non-Sequitur Thursday Post? You decide.

I can’t choose!

I need to get back to the movie watching portion of my evening. As you may have guessed, I prefer the classic flicks. Perhaps I can write more about specific movies. In the meantime, Happy Thursday, and Happy Halloween Movie Viewing!

A Monstrous Moment

He’s got things all wrapped up.

Yes, it is another Monstrous Monday Post.  I am not even sure I can manage that, but I will try.  Don’t mind me; I’m having a moment.  For the past two months I’ve been having a moment.  I expect to get over it soon.

I need a little spookiness to cheer me up!

This is a neighbor’s Halloween display from last year.  I must begin my own Halloween decorating soon.  That will be nice.

He is hot, yes.

In other cheerful news, I just read that Peter Cushing is the Star of the Month for TCM in October.  That means Hammer Horror!  Yay!

Speaking of Masters of Horror…

 

Here are a few more fellows who I’d like to see featured by TCM:  Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and Vincent Price.

Yum, yum!

I thought I ought to include Christopher Lee as well.  No doubt there are others I should include, but there will be other Monstrous Mondays.

Regular readers know who my favorite is!

Here are a few actual monsters, just to get back to the theme of the day.

She needs a new outfit.

I close with another of my at-home monsters, Bonita.  Isn’t she elegant?  And that brings me over 200 words.  Freudian typo:  I started to put years instead of words.  How old I feel?  Or how long some things seem to take?  Anyways, it’s better than 200 pounds!

 

Just a Few Vampires…

After sharing horror pictures on Severed Head Sunday, I make bold to offer a Monstrous Monday Post.  I was watching Dateline (Murder Monday?), but Steven has switched over to another of his favorites, People’s Court.  On the brighter side, I find that less distracting when trying to compose a blog post.

He peeks through the window at the television set.

This is why we put panes of glass in our windows: to keep Nosferatu out.  He is scary.  I like him.  I feel slightly fraudulent sharing these monster pictures and acting like such a horror fiend.  The truth is, I do not like the really gory, nasty stuff.  Anything later than the Hammer Horror films of the ’60’s and ’70’s  leaves me cold.

Christopher Lee is OK by me!

Even some of the Hammer films have more blood than I strictly like.  However, they are most of them very well done.  Also, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.  There could be no possible objection.

A little sloppy, but so hot.

And here is some more Lee for you.  He may not be as dapper as Bela Lugosi, but I feel he is a fine addition to vampires of filmdom.

More dapper. Still scary.

Speaking of Bela Lugosi, I managed to find a picture of him, too.  I wonder if there is some way to organize my Media Library,  so I could find pictures more easily.  Really, I am sure I do not make the most of my WordPress account.

Then again, it is a Monday, and I am over 200 words.  Let’s call it a post and drive on.  Happy Monday, everyone!

 

Favorite Ghouls on Wuss-out Wednesday

I am so tired right now, I think all I can manage is a Wuss-out Wednesday post.  It is Wednesday, right?  Earlier today, I was wishing it was Thursday.  Then I reminded myself of a morning I got out of my car and thought, “Why can’t it be Thursday instead of Wednesday?”  then I thought, “You idiot, it’s Tuesday.”  I may have shared that memory before, but I still think it is funny.

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Two of my all-time favorite ghouls.

This is what I immediately thought of at the time.   This is Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff.  I never knew which movie the shot is from but I believe that is not the original dialog.  I used it as my Facebook cover photo for a while. Now I realize I should not have put it in a Wuss-out Wednesday post but in a Tired Tuesday post.  Which just goes to show you how often I do the wrong thing.  But now that I’ve put in a photo, I’d kind of like to put in a couple more.  I wonder what I can find.

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She’s really not that into him.

Speaking of favorite ghouls, who doesn’t love Vincent Price?  This is from House of Wax, one of my go-to horror movies.  Price is in love with his Marie Antoinette.  How Pygmalion of him.  Before the film can really explore the creepiness of that infatuation, the place goes up in flames and Price becomes a villain, deformed in body and spirit.  I don’t know where I’m going with that.  Perhaps the next time I watch the movie, I’ll write a scholarly essay on Hollywood’s missed opportunities.

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Aren’t they cool?

Just to finish out the theme of favorite ghouls, here is a photo Steven has shared on Facebook so it was in our downloads.  Christopher Lee, Vincent Price and John Carradine.  At least, Steven says it is John Carradine.  I had thought it was Peter Cushing.  How classless is that, that I’m going to publish this without making sure of my information.  That’s how I roll on Wuss-out Wednesday.

 

A Mod Vampire?

Here, at long last, is the post I began some time ago about the cheesy horror movie I saw.  Full disclosure:  some people do not consider Hammer Studios films to be cheesy, but I have made bold to so categorize it for the purposes of this blog post.

Spoiler Alert!  I am probably going to give away most of the salient plot points of Dracula A.D. 1972, so if you have not seen it and like to be surprised at developments, read no further.  Also, if you have seen the movie and liked it, you also might like to read no further, because I not only did not like it, I did not pay a great deal of attention to it, so my write-up is likely to annoy you.

I DVR’d Dracula A.D. 1972 from TCM some time ago and finally got around to watching it on my recent birthday.  I had hopes of getting a blog post out of it, but, well, we’ll see.

I could tell by the title that the movie takes place in what were then modern times (I guess during the ’70s it would have been Mod Times, but that’s neither here nor there), not the pseudo past we often see in horror movies, which usually means the ladies wear long dresses and everybody gets around in horse and carriage.  I like the pseudo past better for a cheesy horror movie.  Perhaps I’ll try to analyze why one of these Lame Post Fridays.

One might ask, “Well, why did you DVR it if you thought you weren’t going to like it?”  That is the flip side of the yahoos that say, “How do you know you won’t like it when you haven’t seen it?” as if I have infinite time to watch every movie ever made! I gave this movie a chance because (1) Hammer Studios, (2) Peter Cushing AND Christopher Lee, (3) they just don’t show that many horror movies I think I am going to like.

I did not completely dislike this one.  I may even watch it again to clear up my confusion on the parts I missed.  In the meantime, I’ll write about what I remember.

The movie opens, as many of these movies do, with a kind of a prologue, showing something that happened long before the events of the movie proper take place.  We see Peter Cushing (Van Helsing) finish off Christopher Lee (Dracula), who almost immediately crumbles into dust or, I guess, ashes. Then we see a henchman-looking guy making off with a vial full of ashes.

I talked about this when I wrote about Dracula Prince of Darkness.  There is no way that guy got all the ashes!  When he reconstitutes that vampire, it is going to be missing something.  In Prince of Darkness it was the power of speech (oh yeah, there was a story that Lee refused to say any of the lines because the dialogue was so badly written.  I like my explanation better).  And so I repeat myself.

Back in “modern” times, the horror action grinds to a complete halt with a wild party scene that goes on and on.  Its purpose, I suppose, it to introduce the group of young people who will fall afoul of Dracula.  A worthy purpose, a very dull scene.  I learned that the kids are wild and their leader is a thoroughgoing jerkface.  If there were any subtleties or further character traits, I missed them.

After fleeing the police (long story), the kids repair to the pub in search of further thrills.  Jerkface proposes a Black Mass.  The kids are down with this, but Satan will have to bring “his own booze, his own bird, and his own pot” (I may have that quote wrong.  Oh well).

As the Main Girl rides home with her Boyfriend, we learn that her grandfather is Van Helsing, presumably offspring or descendant of the guy in the first scene (following the movie tradition that descendants look EXACTLY like their forbears) (really I don’t mind this tradition; it is kind of like movie shorthand) (and makes casting easier).  Boyfriend wants to consult the grandfather about Black Masses and calling up Satan and stuff, but Main Girl demurs.

We meet Peter Cushing briefly in the next scene, but it mainly shows that he has a good relationship with his granddaughter and she is not as wild as the crowd she runs with.  There is no hint of any other family members, another handy arrangement common in fictional settings (oh, I’m sure it happens in real life as well.  Just because I’ve never seen it).

Jerkface goes home and grabs the vial of ashes we saw in the prologue. I never saw any explanation of how he came by the ashes.  A descendant of Henchman?  The same guy, immortal but not as powerful as Dracula?  These are the things I hope to pay more attention to if I ever watch this flick again.

So Dracula gets re-constituted at the Black Mass about 45 minutes into the movie. I made a note of it in the TV Journal but neglected to note when the prologue ended, so I don’t know how long we had to wait for him to return.  I was happy to see him, because I was tired of this gang of miscreants and was ready to see them get picked off as vampire food.

Now here is a question I must look up sometime in Vampires for Dummies:  When does a vampire victim become another vampire and when are they merely a bloodless corpse?  Is it up to the vampire that bites them?  I just mention it in passing.  I have no real problem with bloodless corpses in a movie of this kind.  For one reason, I don’t like to keep track of too many characters.

Speaking of keeping track of characters, have any of you been wondering whatever happened to Peter Cushing?  I was, but no, he doesn’t come back yet.  First we have the rather lengthy Black Mass where Jerkface adds blood and stirs well.  He’s all excited to see Christopher Lee and wants congratulations on a job well done.

“It was my will,” Christopher Lee intones.

I was like, “YOUR will?  How could you will any anything?  Hello, you were ashes!  Get over yourself!”

Well, I heard Christopher Lee had an ego and I’m sure Count Dracula did, too.  I guess that immortal, blood-sucking thing could go to anybody’s head.  And the fact that you CAN be re-constituted from ashes, whether or not you willed it from that state (or were completely there when re-constituted), is a pretty unusual talent.  So I guess I should cut a newly un-dead vampire a break.

Anyways, I had really lost track of the plot by this time, but the police get involved when the first bloodless corpse is discovered.  then Peter Cushing gets involved, because, you know, vampires and his granddaughter being friends with the corpse (before she was a corpse).  The police do not tiresomely dismiss Van Helseing (Cushing) as a crackpot, that hoary cliche, but they don’t jump on board with crucifixes and wooden stakes, either.

It’s really not a bad movie.  I might try to see it again if I get a chance.  I don’t promise to pay more attention, but if I do perhaps I could write a better blog post about it.  In the meantime, I hope at least some of you are pleased that I did not publish yet another post about Why I Can’t Write a Post.

 

What? No Peter Cushing?

Spoiler Alert! I’m actually not going to give a lot away, especially not the ending, because I had stopped paying much attention by that time. In my defense, it was Saturday night and way past my usual bed time.

I DVR’d Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964) with high hopes, thinking it must be the sequel to The Mummy, which I enjoyed recently. As I learned from Ben Mankiewicz’s pre-movie commentary, it is the second of four Mummy movies made by Hammer Studios (I referred to them as Hammer Films in my post on The Mummy, but I specifically noticed Mankiewicz said Hammer Films this time) (in the interests of accuracy). The movie was directed by the son of the guy that owned Hammer at the time. I suppose that would explain it.

My first disappointment was that neither Peter Cushing nor Christopher Lee were in the movie. I like Lee better as Dracula than as the Mummy anyways, but I felt Cushing was a real loss. Still, I thought I would try to enjoy it. A Hammer Studios monster movie must be worth a watch, right?

The movie opens with some guy tied by his hands to two stakes in the desert, guarded by an Arab-looking guy (1960s Hollywood version) (but I didn’t need to tell you that). A group of nomad-looking guys ride up on horses. Without a word, one of them kills the guy and chops his hand off. This gives everyone a good laugh (except, of course, the dead guy), and they ride off with the severed hand.

Cut to a luxurious tent, apparently the living quarters of the archaeologists excavating the tomb. A guy is pouring a French lady another drink. She flirtatiously asks is he trying to get her drunk. He says he will try to do so when they return to London (another spoiler: he doesn’t), and she coquettes that she will let him. It must be pretty dry out there, even for a desert, because I didn’t think he was such a much.

It turns out the dead guy of the previous scene is her father. She flees in tears.

“Let her go,” somebody says wisely to the boyfriend. People are always saying that in movies. I don’t know if they do in real life, because I am usually the one fleeing in tears, or at least I was in my dramatic adolescent past (although in my case, I sadly suspect it was more of a collective, “Thank God she’s gone!”) (but I digress). I think in the case of this movie, the movie makers wanted French Lady to be alone when she discovers in her bed (I did include a spoiler alert, didn’t I?) the severed hand (oh, you probably saw that coming; I did).

Another dramatic shock happens when they discover a dead body amongst the artifacts they are taking back to England. I got a good laugh over that, because, well, the body looked a little comical. Meaning no disrespect to the fictional dead.

Speaking of good laughs, Steven and I both cracked up when… I can’t remember who said what, but suddenly everyone froze in a dramatic pause and looked at… the sarcophagus. Which looked a little like Tutankhamen with a pig nose.

Soon they’re on a boat headed back to England. A couple more dramatic things happen, including the introduction of a mysterious, handsome stranger. He beats up a would-be assassin and tosses him overboard. That seemed a little careless to me. Wouldn’t you, for example, like to ask the guy who he works for?

Things get a good deal less exciting in London. French Lady starts playing Old Boyfriend against Handsome Stranger, but that isn’t very compelling, because Old Boyfriend doesn’t get very jealous. We find out, via dialogue, not demonstration, that French Lady is a rather brilliant Egyptologist, having studied hard to earn her father’s love (remember him? She doesn’t seem to). It seems Old Boyfriend wants her for her brain. What an insult! It is so refreshing that Handsome Stranger understands she wants a home and to stay in it. Well, this is before the feminist ’70s (no, I am not going to entertain a discussion on family vs. career; this is not that kind of a blog).

Where was I? Ah yes, losing track of the movie. It’s not what you call fast-paced and action-packed. And I don’t remember the ending. Something happens in a sewer after we find out a BIG secret about Handsome Stranger. So if this movie pops up again on TCM, I may try to watch it till the end. I may even write another blog post about it.

Not a Scooby Doo Plot

Spoiler Alert! I don’t really give much away this time, but it’s become a habit to include an alert.

I admit I DVR’d The Mummy on TCM thinking it was the black and white version. You know how I love old horror movies. When I found out it was the Hammer Films production from 1959, I figured it would still be worth a watch.

I already knew that Hammer had revitalized the horror genre in the late ’50s and early ’60s. What I learned from Ben Mankiewicz’s pre-movie commentary was that for the first few movies they made — Dracula and Frankenstein flicks — they had to be careful not to infringe on the copyrighted portions of movies previously released by Universal. After the success of the earlier films, Hammer was able to negotiate with Universal for re-make rights. The Mummy is the first of those re-makes.

That was very interesting to me. Now I want to see the older version more than ever, to see what they changed. And I may like to write a blog post contrasting the earlier, non-infringing movies with the re-makes.

The movie stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, veterans of previous Hammer films. Lee gets to be the monster this time, and he was not nuts about the extensive make-up, according to Mankiewicz. I can see where an actor might find it limiting, although Lon Chaney reportedly found it liberating. I wonder if George Clooney would like to try it. But I digress.

Cushing plays one of the archaeologists responsible for desecrating the tomb of… oh dear, I don’t recall the lady’s name. I may have written it in the TV Journal as I watched, but even if I did I am not at all confident in my spelling. It was some high priestess or other. There is a rather elaborate backstory about how the Mummy became her guardian. Someday I’ll have to look up some actual Egyptian legends to see how much Hollywood was really pulling our leg.

Speaking of leg, Cushing’s is broken, and his uncle has this nutty idea Cushing should return to civilization and get it properly set by a doctor. Of course he does no such thing. For one reason, he would avoid the Mummy’s curse and how would that have helped the movie? Later on he gets to walk around with a romantic limp that, quite frankly, I thought was going to figure into the plot more prominently.

Speaking of romantic, Cushing has a beautiful wife who, in one of those typical movie coincidences, happens to look JUST LIKE the lady in the tomb. Oh well, I suppose you could make up some rationalization about how Cushing is such a dedicated Egyptologist that he subconsciously fell in love with a girl who looked just like an Egyptian. Or something of that nature. I guess I don’t really have a problem with this sort of thing. It figures into the plot and makes the flashbacks easier to cast.

All the usual elements are here: warned against desecrating the tomb, desecrating the tomb anyways, leaving the Mummy’s first victim alone so that nobody quite knows what happened. At one point I said, “Oh, that would be a good plot: the guy that warned them does the killing himself and makes it look like the Mummy’s doing it.” Then I remembered that is the plot of almost every Scooby Doo mystery (although they didn’t usually deal in murder). I only steal from the best.

Cushing indulges in some typical stupid movie male activity. I know I usually rail against stupid movie females. In fact when movie males do it, it is brash or daring or refusing to play by the rules. As usual I must admit, if people in movies had any brains they would sit quietly at home and we would have boring movies (although I bet these days there is some yahoo with a webcam showing exactly that on YouTube). Cushing’s wife doesn’t do anything too stupid. Alas, she does not do much of anything else, either, the sad fate of many a movie female.

The movie does have what was for me a major “Waaaait a minute” moment, but to tell you that would entail quite a long plot summary and a major spoiler (alert notwithstanding). I enjoyed the movie. I think I am becoming a Peter Cushing fan.

Can’t Be Too Cheesy

Spoiler Alert! I’m not going to give away the whole plot, but I might ruin a surprise or two.

TCM has not shown any Whistler movies lately, but they have obliged with a few Hammer Films.

I made a note of “It’s a Hammer Film” in the TV Journal when we watched The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) last Sunday. Last night I found I was correct to do so. Ben Mankiewicz, in pre-movie commentary to another Frankenstein movie, informed us that Hammer Films became known for the horror genre.

Revenge of Frankenstein stars Peter Cushing as the mad doctor. I first became aware of Cushing many years ago, when he had a part in the first Star Wars movie (that’s the first MOVIE, not the first “episode,” of which I know very little). Cushing, as I understood it, was one of a couple of older, highly respected actor’s actors brought in to class up the operation. Now it’s a name which, when I see it in a movie, I say, “Can’t be too cheesy.” Still, any horror movie from the ’50s or ’60s is going to have a certain kitsch factor, especially one about Frankenstein. Hello! Sewing together dead people to bring them back to life! Even Kenneth Branaugh could bring only so much weight to that.

The movie opens with Dr. Frankenstein facing the guillotine for his crimes. Apparently this is not the first Frankenstein movie in the series (“Revenge of” kind of clued me into that already). But there is no problem following the plot from where they start, no need for lengthy flashbacks. Actually, in a Frankenstein movie, flashbacks look a little silly. I mean, we all KNOW the story or at least enough that we can follow along (I, of course, know the whole story; I read the book) (sorry, didn’t mean to sound smug).

I was a little disappointed that Dr. F didn’t get beheaded and sew his own head back on, but that would have been a whole other movie, I suppose. Instead, the scene changes before the blade clangs down and I don’t think anybody is too much surprised to learn that our “hero” escaped execution with the help of a confederate (that’s all we’re told about how it was done. I personally would have liked a flashback showing the trick) (after all, you never know when you might need to know these things).

The next thing we know, a certain Dr. Stein (subtle!) is practicing medicine in, oh, I forget where. Presumably a country with no extradition policy or no guillotines. The local medical association is a little miffed he hasn’t tried to join or otherwise seek their permission before stealing all their patients.

It seems the ladies love Dr. Stein. Hmmm. I guess the young Peter Cushing had a sort of charm. Maybe it’s that crisp, businesslike aloofness. That unattainability that drives some women nuts.

At any rate, Dr. Stein’s waiting room for his upper crust patients who pay through the nose is always full. He uses this income to subsidize his free clinic for the poor, which is another thing that the ladies love about him. So unselfish! So dedicated! They don’t realize he is using that clinic as a source for body parts (but you knew right away, didn’t you?).

I do hope he washes the parts before he uses them, because a lot is made of how the poor people don’t wash. One fellow in particular — I think he is employed at the clinic in some menial capacity — brags his head off about how that’s why he’s so healthy. Um, he does not literally brag is head off, although I guess that would have been appropriate in a Frankenstein movie that opens with a guillotine.

Dr. Stein has a crippled assistant named Carl, and he acquires a young doctor protege. The young doctor recognizes who Dr. Stein is, but does not think he is evil. He thinks he is brilliant and wants to work with him and learn. There is a also a beautiful, young, upper crust girl who volunteers at the clinic, and the stage is set.

And that is about as far as I want to go, because, spoiler alert aside, I really don’t want to give any more away. There are some unexpected twists and turns. You may see the ending coming, but it’s still pretty satisfying. I didn’t see it coming a mile away, but pretty much guessed it just before it happened. I felt pretty pleased with myself that I guessed right.