Monday, 27 May 2013

Happy Birthday to Vincent Price and Chistopher Lee

Happy birthday to Vincent and Christopher. Our dear Vinnie may no longer be with us, but Chris is still going strong at 91. He's even releasing a heavy metal (his second) today, Charlemagne: The Omens of Death. Click here for more details.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Peter Cushing Centenary | The Horror Channel celebrates the iconic actor's 100th birthday

Today, The Horror Channel (Sky 319, Virgin 149, Freesat 138) celebrates 100 years of the birth of one of the country’s most beloved actors, Peter Cushing OBE with three films from his long film career, and a classic episode from the 1980s TV horror anthology series, Hammer House of Hammer.

10am Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)
In the fourth of Hammer’s Frankenstein series, directed by Terence Fisher, Peter Cushing’s obsessed scientist Baron Frankenstein embarks upon his most ambitious work – bringing a young maiden (Susan Denberg) back to life using the soul of an executed man.

12noon The Blood Beast Terror (1968)
Victorian-set horror in which Peter Cushing plays a Scotland Yard detective investigating a series of grisly deaths in the English countryside and discovers an entomology professor (Robert Flemying) is trying to create a mate for his half-woman/half-moth daughter (Wanda Ventham aka Beneditch Cumberbatch’s mum).

1.30pm I, Monster (1971)
In this Amicus adaptation of the Jekyll & Hyde story, Christopher Lee plays Charles Marlowe, a psychologist who invents a drug that releases his patients’ inhibitions. But when Marlowe tests it on himself, he becomes the cruel, murderous Edward Blake. It’s up to Peter Cushing’s lawyer to discover the truth.

3pm The Beast Must Die (1974)
This 1970s action whodunit sees Cushing playing lycanthropy expert Dr Lundgre – one of a number of invited guests of a wealthy sportsman (Calvin Lockhart) who believes one of them is a werewolf. Near the conclusion, the audience have a 30-second interlude during which they can decide, who the hunted beast is.

4.50pm Hammer House of Horror:
The Silent Scream
Cushing gives a finely tuned performance as Martin Blueck, an ex-Nazi doctor posing as a seemingly kindly pet shopkeeper who befriends a released convict, Chuck Spillers (Brian Cox) only to trap him and his wife in his latest experiment. Classic chills.

***NEWS IN!*** There are just a handful of tickets left for the May 29 screening of Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell at BFI Southbank in London, which will be introduced by two stars from the film, Madeline Smith and Dave Prowse, plus the editors of the Peter Cushing: The Complete Memoirs, Jonathan Rigby and Joyce Broughton (Cushing's secretary). Click here for more information.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Altitude Films release Scream and Scream Again and Madhouse on DVD in the UK

Just found these two Price titles are being re-issued on Region 2 DVDs from a new outfit called Altitude Films, part of a package of horror classics being released on Monday 27th May, the others are The Black Cat, The Raven, The Legend of Hell House, Phantom Lady, and Black Friday.

Other genre titles to be released include The St Valentines Day Massacre and Fugutive Kind (also 27th May); Hot Rock, McLintock! and Story of GI Joe on 3rd June;  Desiree and Arabian Nights on 10th June.

Will they be any different from the US MGM Home Entertainment releases? Will they come with new extras? Below is the blurb from the distributors. As soon as they arrive, I will update this post.

Scream and Scream Again, 1970 (Order Here)
Starring – Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing.
Police are called in to investigate a series of brutal murders. At first they believe the deaths are unrelated, until pathologist David Sorel (Christopher Matthews) performs a post-mortem revealing that each body has been sucked dry of blood, giving the appearance of the work of vampires. Ordered by a government official to destroy the evidence, the police drop the case. But Sorel refuses to stop looking into the mystery. In an attempt to capture the crazed killer he is led to the mysterious mansion of Dr. Browning (Vincent Price), where he finds a secret operating theatre; a workshop for the creation of super humans out of limbs and organs from living bodies. But in a sadistic twist, the mastermind behind Browning’s evil deeds pushes him into a vat of acid, putting a grisly end to his diabolical plans.

Madhouse, 1974 (Order Here)
Starring – Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Robert Quarry.
Paul Toombes (Vincent Price), veteran Hollywood horror film star, is making a comeback in a new TV series based on the old “Dr. Death” movies which first made him world famous. The trouble with Paul is his past. A beautiful young actress to whom he was engaged to be married was found murdered in strange circumstances. Although acquitted after standing trial for the killing, Paul’s career was shattered and the breakdown he suffered left him an unbalanced wreck. Now twenty years on, his old actor-friend Herbert Flay (Peter Cushing) welcomes him back to the role. But the curse of Dr. Death strikes again as a series of gruesome murders drag Paul into his past and he begins to wonder if he is in the grip of impulses totally beyond his control.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Keys of the Kingdom | The 1944 religious drama that made Gregory Peck a star gets a UK DVD release from Odeon Entertainment

This adaptation of AJ Cronin's 1941 novel, The Keys of the Kingdom, explores the life of Catholic missionary Francis Chisholm (Gregory Peck). Told in flashback, it spans some 60 years, from his childhood days in Scotland (where he is played by Roddy McDowall) to his helping the poor in a remote rural Chinese province. Along the way, we see the compassionate cleric’s tireless devotion to his cause in spite of such obstacles as a civil war, a disagreeable mother superior (Rose Stradner) and a pompous monsignor (Vincent Price), and witness the humbling influence he had on the lives of the people he ministered over the decades.

While this long, faithful 1944 adaptation of AJ Cronin’s popular novel may make lack the nobility of that well-known religious epic The Song of Bernadette (which came out a year before by the same studio, 20th Century Fox) or the enchantment of the year’s biggest grossing film Going My Way – which also concerned a young priest (Bing Crosby) making his mark in the world – it’s success is down solely to Peck’s sincere, spiritual performance. While this was only his second film, Peck scored a well-deserved Academy Award nomination playing the humble Father Chisholm. His next film, Spellbound for Alfred Hitchcock, would further cement his leading man credentials. 

In news articles of the day, Price described his character, Angus Mealey, as ‘that fat priest’. Having been forced to lose weight for the three films he made during 1944 – the religious epic TheSong of Bernadette, the Pacific war drama The Eve of St Mark, and the political biopic Wilson, Price had to pile on the pounds to play Peck’s snooty, racist superior. ‘I started to eat. Boy did I eat. I’m still eating,’ says Price.

Vincent’s first wife Edith Barrett (1938-1948) can be seen in the film’s opening scenes playing Aunt Polly. It was second and last time that the couple would appear in a film together. The first was The Song of Bernadette.

Odeon Entertainment’s UK DVD release features a pretty decent print and a handful of extras, including a 1988 documentary, Gregory Peck: His Own Man, in which Peck reviews his life as an actor while shooting Old Gringo with Jane Fonda. Also included are a gallery and trailer.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Peter Cushing at 100 | The Centenary Celebrations

On screen he portrayed some of most iconic characters, from Sherlock Holmes to Doctor Who and the Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars, and made his name in Hammer horror movies playing Baron Frankenstein and vampire hunter Dr Van Helsing. Yet for all the frights he gave audiences, Peter Cushing was well known as one of life’s gentlemen – devoted to his late wife Helen, a passionate watercolour artist, and in love with his adopted town of Whitstable in Kent – which he made his home from the 1950s until his death in 1994. To mark the 100th anniversary of the actor’s birth on 26 May, a number of special events are taking place in Whitstable and London.

Peter Cushing at 100
Whitstable Museum and Gallery (Kent) | 29 March-13 June 2013
A special exhibition celebrating the life of Whitstable’s favourite resident features a host of artefacts, from film stills and posters to examples of his artwork and even the pair of slippers he famously wore while filming Star Wars. Click here for ticketing details.

Peter Cushing: The Complete Memoirs | Book Launch
Cinema Museum (London) | Sunday 12 May, 7.30pm
Film historian Jonathan Rigby and Peter Cushing’s former assistant Bernard Broughton will be special guests at the launch of Peter Cushing: The Complete Memoirs, which collects together Cushing’s 1980s books – An Autobiography and Past Forgetting – with the 1955 memoir The Peter Cushing Story, and includes extensive unseen material from his private collection. For tickets, click here.

Brides of Dracula | Film Screening
Horsebridge Community Centre (Whitstable, Kent) | Saturday 25 May, 7.30pm

A screening the 1960 Hammer horror film starring Peter Cushing as vampire hunter, Van Helsing. Tickets are £5 – Box Office: 01227 281174

Peter Cushing Centenary Weekend
(Whitstable, Kent) | Saturday 25 May-Sunday 26 May

In 2004, on the 10th anniversary of the actor’s death, more than 12,000 people from around the world descended on the coastal town, visiting the local museum and the strolling around the same places that Cushing frequented, including the Tudor Tea Rooms and Cushing’s View, a seaside spot much favoured by the actor. The 100th anniversary will be even more special, with events being held in and around the town, including the Peter Cushing pub (a converted art deco cinema) on Oxford Street, which will host a special Hammer horror fancy dress party.

The Peter Cushing Scrapbook | Signings
Wayne Kinsey, Tom Johnson & Joyce Broughton (Peveril Publishing)
This 328-page pictorial history to Peter Cushing has been compiled in time for the centenary of the much moved actor and is only available direct from Peveril Publishing. Signings of the book will be held on 12 May at the 4th Norwich Sci Fi Convention and 25 May at the Peter Cushing pub (11am-5pm).

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell | Film Screening
BFI Southbank (London) | Wednesday 29 May, 6.30pm
This 1973 Hammer horror was the final instalment in the studio’s Frankenstein franchise starring Peter Cushing. The BFI are screening a new HD restoration of the film, with an introduction from actress Madeline Smith and Joyce Broughton, Cushing’s secretary for 35 years. For more information, click here.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Deep Purple dedicate a song to Vincent Price on their new album Now What?!

Vincent Price is the closing track off the Deep Purple 19th album "Now What?!" which is now being streamed in full (click here). But I have been able to find it on YouTube, so you can hear it here as well. All together now: 'Vincent Price is back again'.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

What connects 1973's Theatre of Blood with Doctor Who's latest adventure, The Crimson Horror?

Dame Diana Rigg and Rachael Stirling, of course! The mother and daughter actresses both played the same character in the 1973 Vincent Price film and the 2005 London stage production – albeit with different names (Rigg's character was Edwina Lionheart, while Stirling's character was called Miranda).

In this week's episode of Doctor Who, entitled The Crimson Horror, Rigg and Stirling get to act opposite each other for the very first time (check out the clip below). In Yorkshire 1893, bodies are washing up all bright red and waxy in the river of a small mill town and it has something to do with an old matchbox factory that is owned by Mrs Gillyflower (Diana Rigg) and her unseen silent partner, Mr Sweet.

When the Doctor investigates, he encounters Gillyflower's blind and scarred daughter Ada (Rachael Stirling) who is unaware of her mother's evil plans to create a new utopia where only perfect people will inhabit. Meanwhile, with the Doctor missing, Silurian sleuth Madame Vastra, her combat capable wife Jenny and their Sontaran butler Strax, all head to the town in an effort to track down their Time Lord friend.

Doctor Who: The Crimson Horror
BBC1 HD, 6.30pm 4 May

Vincent Price's Up in Central Park co-star Deanna Durbin dies at 91

With the news today of the passing of 1930's silver screen star Deanna Durbin, here's a reminder of her 1948 film Up in Central Park, a big-screen version of the Dorothy Fields-Sigmund Rombergy Broadway musical set in 1870s New York, which she starred in alongside Vincent Price.

Here she is singing Carousel in the Park with Dick Haymes in the movie.