Sunday, 18 February 2018


OUR FINAL Cushing-double feature this week is intended to go against the grain somewhat. The Curse of Frankenstein and The Revenge of Frankenstein were thematically, visually and stylistically linked being the first two entries in a series. The Skull and The Creeping Flesh on the other hand, despite being years apart shared the same director and had very similar thematic interests. Today’s final double bill features two films that both belong to the same sub-genre but apart from that are stylistically and thematically different. It is those differences I want to discuss and those differences that I feel make The Beast Must Die (1974) and Legend of the Werewolf (1975) the perfect ‘werewolf’ double feature.

DESPITE BEING THE ONLY TWO Werewolf movies Cushing made (well unless you count the segment in 1964’s Dr Terrors House of Horrors that he’s not in) there’s very little to connect these two films. The Beast Must Die is in reality more of an action thriller, attempting to ride the ‘Blaxploitation’ wave that was occurring at the time. Thus the film is accompanied by a ‘funky’ soundtrack and numerous action set-pieces.

TELLING THE STORY of Calvin Lockhart’s obsessive hunter Tom Newcliffe, the plot follows his gathering of five individuals at his home. Early on he reveals that he believes one of the gathered number to be a werewolf and he is determined to hunt the creature down. The film is the same manner as a contemporary thriller but mixed with an Agatha Christie like sensibility. Legend of the Werewolf on the other hand (along with the excellent The Ghoul) is one of a number of Tyburn films that were deliberate throwbacks to the early years of Hammer . A period piece, the film reverts to the traditional ‘werewolf as tragic figure’ mould and has a number of similarities to 1961’s The Curse of the Werewolf.

SO IF INDEED, other than both featuring a werewolf and Peter Cushing, there is very little to connect these two films, why would I suggest watching them as a double bill? Well put simply that is the reason. Two films from the dying days of the British horror boom, they demonstrate remarkably different approaches to the crisis. Both use the Werewolf myth (why that monster in particular I have no idea) but it is the difference in treatment of this well-known monster that makes these two films interesting.

THE BEAST MUST DIE looks across the pond to the American thrillers being produced at the time and thus chooses to rely less on the horrific and more on action. I did a larger piece on The Beast Must Die sometime back and it’s a film which though certainly entertaining, few would call outright successful. However when watched back-to-back with Legend of the Werewolf, I actually found myself gaining much greater appreciation for Beast. Now I want to point out that I adore Legend but when viewed in the context of the time it was made, it appears a very odd move to do something that relies as much on old tropes and conventions as this film does. 

IN THE FACE OF MUCH DARKER and more visceral horror’s along the lines of The Exorcist, Night of the Living Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre it seems a bizarre move to emulate the early years of Hammer, a studio who by this point was on its last legs. Watched devoid of any of this context, Legend is a rip roaring gothic melodrama in the style of old. Watched within this context it’s a fitting tribute to the main figures within Hammer but can only really be viewed as something of poorly judged exercise in nostalgia, looking back to the past, when the present was taking the genre in new and exciting directions.

THE BEAST MUST DIE on the other hand is a similar misfire, but all the more enjoyable for the brave attempts to try and escape the rut that most of its British Horror contemporaries had entered. Unfortunately poor production values and a script that stretches its thing plot far beyond its means, doom what could have been a powerful early 70’s thriller. As it is Beast stands as a fascinating artefact of the bizarre ways that the giants of British Horror cinema were attempting to cope with the ‘new wave’.

I REALISE THAT throughout this piece I’ve sounded incredibly negative towards these two films, truth be told both are incredibly enjoyable. Which is the best? Well without doubt Legend but Beast has its moments too. Before starting this double bill I suggest watching the third instalment of Mark Gatiss’s excellent A History of Horror which contextualises the environment in which these two films were made and shows what they had to compete with. As it is, Cushing’s two entries into the werewolf sub-genre make an excellent pairing, demonstrating two different approaches to dwindling box office returns on British Horror films. 

REMEMBER! IF YOU LIKE what you see here at our website, you'll  love our daily themed posts at our PCAS FACEBOOK FAN PAGE.  Just click that blue LINK and click LIKE when you get there, and help us . . Keep The Memory Alive!. The Peter Cushing Appreciation Society website, facebook fan page and youtube channel are managed, edited and written by Marcus Brooks, PCAS coordinator since 1979. PCAS is based in the UK and USA

Saturday, 17 February 2018


#CHRISTOPHERLEESATURDAY! A short video of Christopher Lee talking about the shooting of the iconic photograph that appears on the cover of the WINGS album, BAND ON THE RUN with footage from the photo session . . .

#CHRISTOPHERLEESATURDAYS! There is MORE than death, waiting for you in DARK PLACES . . so the promo strap line said . . .If this is a new title to you or you have never watched it before, do yourself a favor ...and DON'T go looking for details before you watch it! DARK PLACES was one of the last 1970's Christopher Lee fantasy genre titles to make it to the domestic market. With a great Brit cast, old dark house, one of Hammer film directors and yet made somewhat, in the Amicus style . . so, avoid the spoilers and give-away pics scattered over the net, and settle back to watch, a bit of a treat!

REMEMBER! IF YOU LIKE what you see here at our website, you'll  love our daily themed posts at our PCAS FACEBOOK FAN PAGE.  Just click that blue LINK and click LIKE when you get there, and help us . . Keep The Memory Alive!. The Peter Cushing Appreciation Society website, facebook fan page and youtube channel are managed, edited and written by Marcus Brooks, PCAS coordinator since 1979. PCAS is based in the UK and USA

 #petercushing #christopherlee #bandontherun #hammerfilms

Friday, 16 February 2018


"THE WOMAN WHO WILL BE REMEMBERED as the first Hammer horror vampire to bare her fangs on screen, Valerie Sheila Reddington, died at St Mary’s Hospital, Newport, on November 27, aged 84 . . . . ' These were the first three lines, that appeared in actress Valerie Gaunt's obituary, printed in the County Press Newspaper in 2016, the daily news of the Isle of Wight, Gaunt's place of residence for almost the last twenty years of her life. 

ABOVE AND BELOW: OF THE TWO TELEVISION DRAMAS, that GAUNT appeared in, Only The Father In Law, survives, as her earliest work. Sadly, the ITV Playhouse drama ' A Chance Meeting' from 1956, which was the play, in which Fisher heard, that scream . .  is thought lost.

IT'S INTERESTING THAT Valerie Gaunt’s film career actually amounted to just two supporting roles in two Hammer films, and two small roles in a pair of TV dramas! And yet, she exerted an enduring fascination for horror fans who mourned her early retirement in 1958.  Just like that. Not unlike the poorly credited 'Vampire Woman', a role without a name, in Hammer films, 1958 'Dracula' she vanished into the night . . .

FOR GAUNT, her association with Hammer films began when she caught the attention of, a soon to be Hammer films, go to director Terry Fisher. While watching the tv one night, Fisher had the chance in a million of hearing Valerie deliver her spine-tingling scream, in the unfolding drama. He immediately sent her a telegram, pleading with her to get in touch, with him, as soon as possible. Right there, Hammer history was hatched and Gaunt was to be forever associated with her two roles for the company.

AS FATE WOULD HAVE IT,  those two roles were key in two of Hammer Films most iconic productions. In 1957 she played Justine, the naughty maid to — and secret lover of — one #PeterCushing Baron Frankenstein, in 'The Curse of Frankenstein'. Cushing was fresh from the broadcast of several major BBC TV drama productions. He had been award a BAFTA just sixteen months before, the camera turned on 'The Curse of Frankenstein', in November 1956. Given the few scenes where Gaunt appears in the film, she managed to deliver a full-blooded and nuanced character. Thanks to her jealousy, Justine falls foul of her paramour and ends up suffering an unseen, but implied grisly fate at the hands of his monstrous creation . . .an unknown actor at the time, called Christopher Lee.

BEFORE THIS FIRST screen appearance, Gaunt studied theatre at RADA, London. From 1951, she busily appeared in.... 'this week we perform play 'A', while learning and rehearsing next week's play 'B'...repertory theatre. Another life changing event happened in 1957, the same year that 'The Curse of Frankenstein' was released. Gaunt met her husband to be Gerald, a stockbroker and non-stipendiary priest, later to become a vicar! The happy couple, tied the knot at All Saints’ Church, Margaret Street, West London, on May 17 the following year.

NOW MRS REDDINGTON, she kept the embers of her first role on film glowing, until  almost a year to the day, when she wrapped on Frankenstein, she began work on the film, that would change the fortunes of one Christopher Lee, and sadly snuff out any desires she may have had to continue as an actress. This second role was no less significant. Clad in a just demure nightgown, she pleads with a naive Jonathan Harker, to save her from the evil clutches of the Count, before sinking her fangs into his neck

HUSBAND GERALD, was also a friend of Christopher Lee. On invitation to the set, he watched his wife, shooting her iconic scenes for 'Dracula' at Hammer Studios, Bray. What he made of all the demonic hissing and horror, to say nothing of the feral  fanged fight between his friend Lee and his new bride, we shall never know. But aficionados of  English Gothic cinema, exemplified by the two films in which Gaunt appeared now argue that, Gaunt provided the template, for what would later became known as “Hammer glamour”. 

ALTHOUGH GAUNT enjoyed her stint as a scream queen, Gaunt’s husband, Gerald Reddington, recalled that after the premier of Dracula she came home, kicked her shoes off, sat on the bed and said: “Well thank goodness that is over, I’m never working again!” And really, who could blame her? Gaunt was clearly a woman of character, she knew what she wanted from life. It seems she always did . . .

AND SO, although Gaunt, Mrs Reddington never acted professionally again, she was a dynamic behind-the-scenes force, directing two plays at the prep school attended by her oldest son, Marcus, and later spent five years bringing her talents to teaching drama students, at the Bush Davies School of Theatre Arts, East Grinstead, West Sussex, she also read books for the blind for the Calibre Audio Library. . . . . .

VALERIE GAUNT was born on June 26, 1932, in West Bromwich, the only daughter of a Birmingham industrialist. At the age of 26, having been to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and worked in repertory theatre in Birmingham for four years, she relocated to London. Gaunt moved into a house bought from the stepmother of the man who would become her husband. Having met Valerie, she phoned Reddington and said: “I’ve just sold Queen Anne Street to a very rich man with an only daughter, and you must meet her.” By coincidence, Gaunt’s mother had met Reddington at the same time and invited him for a drink — to meet her daughter.

ALTHOUGH BROUGHT together initially by the gentle meddling of family members, the couple were united by their shared faith. According to Victoria Jol, the couple’s youngest daughter: “The young couple were invited to stay at his family’s country house. However, he was on duty as a server at All Saints church, Margaret Street, so instead my mother went to church with my father — and they never really left.” The church became an integral part of the lives and faith of Valerie and Gerald, who, after a career as a stockbroker, became an ordained minister. They married at All Saints; their four children were baptised in the church; their daughter Benedicta was married there and the memorial for their son Adam, who died when he was just nine years of age, was held there.

AT THE TIME OF HER sad passing on November 27th, 2016 Gaunt was survived by her husband and three of her children. Marcus Reddington, who, like his father, started out as a stockbroker, eventually found his way into the theatre, and is a showman and puppeteer working on the West End production of Wicked. Benedicta Green is a psychotherapeutic counsellor. Victoria Jol worked at the Wiley academic publisher in Australia and the UK and until her Mother's passing, was a full-time carer for her parents.

VALERIE'S TIME IN THE GLOW of the studio ark light was brief, but she certainly made an impression. She decided being an actress was not for her. Maybe also, Hammer studios way of retaining an almost repertory band of crew and actors, could have become a clash of personal sensibilities. She had already appeared in a pair of box office smashers. What if they were to call on her again? Understandably, the church and the glamorous, materialistic and shallow world of entertainment and . . .  horror films, could never be the best of friends. BUT, Valerie was a friend of Judy Garland who moved in such glamorous circles. Gaunt was an unlikely vicar’s wife. Although she once crisply informed a church volunteer that buttering scones was not part of her purview — “Oh no, I’m not into catering” — she flung herself into other duties with gusto: writing stories, painting watercolour portraits of children, putting on musicals and editing the parish newspaper. . . which was very much part of her purview, and Very Much Valerie . . .. 

Valerie Reddington's funeral was held at St Peter’s Church, Isle of Wight on December 2nd 2016. Mrs Reddington, is survived by her husband Gerald, son Marcus, daughters Benedicta Green and Victoria Jol, and three grandchildren. 

REMEMBER! IF YOU LIKE what you see here at our website, you'll  love our daily themed posts at our PCAS FACEBOOK FAN PAGE.  Just click that blue LINK and click LIKE when you get there, and help us . . Keep The Memory Alive!. The Peter Cushing Appreciation Society website, facebook fan page and youtube channel are managed, edited and written by Marcus Brooks, PCAS coordinator since 1979. PCAS is based in the UK and USA


Thursday, 15 February 2018


HERE IS AN EXTRACT from Optibotimus Reviews : Hot Toys Star Wars GRAND MOFF TARKIN upload. He does a great job of showing us the Peter Cushing Grand Moff Tarkin figure in HIS FULL upload, so you can see what you'll be getting for your hard earned bucks! It's a BEAUTIFUL figure. More in his upload which you can find HERE!

A HEADS UP on a great feature that appears in ISSUE SEVEN of CINEFICCION magazine. For the past year or so, editor Dario Lavia been generously sending us issues of the magazine. Back in the day, when I avidly collected magazines and books that featured Peter Cushing, it didn't matter then, or now that the written material was in another tongue, other than my own 'primitive English'. CINE FICCION is published in Spanish, and knowing that both here and at the facebook fan page, there many, many for who the language would not be an issue, I invite you to look the great little magazine up! When I was just ten, probably the best books I owned on Hammer films and Peter Cushing also came from a Spanish publisher. It's pages are very well thumbed! While you are browsing the back issues, also take a look at a series of SPECIALS, called TITANS OF HORROR that Dario edited on Karloff, Lugosi, Price, Chaney Snr and Peter Cushing!

I WAS HONORED TO BE  INVITED to write the  prologue for the Peter Cushing book, and went on a trip down memory lane, when I recalled the first time I saw Peter in a movie at the age of six! This isn't the first time, PCAS has appeared in the pages of a CINEFICCION publication. Some of you have kindly messaged over the years suggesting that, many images and features would look quite smart in a book! Well, back last year I opened up our pages, features and posts to Dario and CINEFICCION, and gave them full access to ANY of the features, past and present, plus all photographs within, for monthly publication in the CINEFICCION magazine. So thanks to Dario, PCAS has a platform in PRINT too. They do a VERY good job of presenting the material too! And yes, before you ask.  He does check for any of my grammatical errors and typos, before the presses role.....!

CINEFICCION is THE magazine of classic horror & science fiction movies. Written in Spanish, is edited in Argentina and reaches the whole world. Our last issue devoted to Universal Horrors. Price per issue: USD 8 (+ shipping cost)

WHEN THE PCAS PODCAST hits the net later this year, CINEFICCION will EXCLUSIVELY be the only magazine to carry the full, unpublished  and unedited interviews in print!

YOU CAN FIND CINEFICCION at it's WEBSITE. On FACEBOOK FAN PAGE and ON Facebook GROUPS. MANY of the portraits and artwork on the covers are the beautifully work of Gabriela Rodas. Here is her FACEBOOK PAGE, where you'll find other examples of her work.

REMEMBER! IF YOU LIKE what you see here at our website, you'll  love our daily themed posts at our PCAS FACEBOOK FAN PAGE.  Just click that blue LINK and click LIKE when you get there, and help us . . Keep The Memory Alive!. The Peter Cushing Appreciation Society website, facebook fan page and youtube channel are managed, edited and written by Marcus Brooks, PCAS coordinator since 1979. PCAS is based in the UK and USA 
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