Monday, 30 July 2012

PETER CUSHING: WHITSTABLE TOWN LOOKING INTO PETER CUSHING FILM AND LITERATURE FESTIVAL


WHITSTABLE CASTLE: Peter's home town of Whitstable, Kent are looking into lauching an annual Film and Literature Festival in his name, to be held at Whitstable Castle next year! We'll keep you posted on progress!

PETER CUSHING : DAVE PROWSE: TARKIN AND DARTH VADER : 'STAR WARS' (1977)

PETER CUSHING AND DAVE PROWSE IN AN OFF CAMERA MOMENT DURING THE MAKING OF 'STAR WARS' (1977)

PETER CUSHING: HERBERT FLAY: AMICUS FILMS 'MADHOUSE' (1974) PUBLICITY PHOTOGRAPH


PETER CUSHING AS 'THE WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING' HERBERT FLAY.
'MADHOUSE' AMICUS FILMS (1974) ALSO STARRING VINCENT PRICE AS PAUL TOOMBES



Sunday, 29 July 2012

PETER CUSHING : CHRISTOPHER LEE: 'THE TRIALS OF VAN HELSING' COMING SOON!


CHRISTOPHER LEE AND PETER CUSHING AS COUNT DRACULA AND HIS ARCH NEMESIS VAN HELSING FROM DRACULA AD 1972 : 'THE TRIALS OF VAN HELSING' SERIAL FEATURE AND GALLERIES : COMING SOON HERE AT THIS WEBSITE AND THE UK PETER CUSHING APPRECIATION SOCIETY FACEBOOK FAN PAGE JOIN HERE!


Thursday, 26 July 2012

PETER CUSHING CHRISTOPHER LEE: 'THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN' BLU RAY RELEASE SET FOR 15TH OCTOBER 2012.



PRESSS RELEASE FROM HAMMERFILMS.COM : CLICK HERE!

Hammer, Icon Film Distribution and Lionsgate are proud to present Terence Fisher’s Gothic classic The Curse of Frankenstein fully restored in High Definition and for the first time in its original Academy ratio of 1.37:1.

Available 15th October in the UK & Ireland on 3-disc Double Play, the pack includes 1 x Blu-ray and 2 x DVD packed full of brand new content. Featuring new documentaries and bonus extras, and including the infamous “eyeball” scene, which was originally banned but has now been fully restored.

The Curse of Frankenstein

Double Play: 1 x BD & 2 x DVD
Cert: 15 (TBC)
Released: 15th October 2012
Region B/2

Single Blu-ray 50 disc

HD Main Feature – Never before released “Academy” ratio 1.37:1 – 83 mins – DTS MA 2.0

HD The Curse of Frankenstein (1.66:1 version) – alternate aspect ratio – 83mins – DTS MA 2.0

New audio commentary with Marcus Hearn & Jonathan Rigby
Frankenstein Reborn: The Making of a Hammer Classic (new & exclusive)
Life With Sir (new & exclusive Peter Cushing documentary)
Four Sided Triangle (bonus feature film) 80 mins
Tales of Frankenstein (bonus TV pilot) 25 mins
The Tale of Tales of Frankenstein (new & exclusive Ted Newsom documentary)
World Of Hammer: The Curse of Frankenstein 25 mins
Stills show
English HOH subtitles for Main Feature

Double DVD

DISC #1:
Main Feature – Never before released “Academy” ratio 1.37:1 – 83 mins – DD 2.0 – English HOH subtitles
The Curse of Frankenstein (1.66:1 version) – alternate aspect ratio – 83mins – DD 2.0
New audio commentary with Marcus Hearn & Jonathan Rigby

DISC #2:
Frankenstein Reborn: The Making of a Hammer Classic (new & exclusive)
Life With Sir (new & exclusive Peter Cushing documentary)
Four Sided Triangle (bonus feature film) 80 mins
Tales of Frankenstein (bonus TV pilot) 25 mins
The Tale of Tales of Frankenstein (new & exclusive Ted Newsom documentary)
World Of Hammer: The Curse of Frankenstein 25 mins
Stills show
PDF Original shooting script
PDF all-new booklet “The Creator’s Spark: Hammer’s Frankenstein Begins” with text by Hammer archivist Robert J. E. Simpson

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

CHRISTOPHER LEE AND STEPHANIE BEACHAM: PUBLICITY PHOTOGRAPH : DRACULA AD 1972 : RARE


ONE YOU DON'T SEE THAT OFTEN! STEPHANIE BEACHAM AND CHRISTOPHER LEE PUBLICITY SHOT FOR HAMMER FILMS 'DRACULA AD 1972' WHICH OF COURSE ALSO STARRED PETER CUSHING AS VAN HELSING X 2!  SEE MORE AT OUR FACEBOOK SITE. THE UK PETER CUSHING APPRECIATION SOCIETY FAN PAGE, QUITE POPULAR AND DEFO MORE THAN A FAN PAGE!COME JOIN US! CLICK HERE!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

CHRISTOPHER LEE PETER CUSHING: DRACULA GALLERY AND REVIEW: PAUL MCNAMEE PETER CUSHING MARATHON




CAST:
Peter Cushing: Dr Van Helsing, Christopher Lee: Count Dracula, Michael Gough: Arthur Holmwood, John Van Eyssen: Jonathan Harker, Melissa Stribling: Mina Holmwood, Carol Marsh: Lucy Holmwood, Valerie Gaunt: Vampire Woman.

PRODUCTION:
Director: Terence Fisher, Screenplay: Jimmy Sangster, Based on the Novel by Bram Stoker, Producer: Anthony Hinds, Photography: Jack Asher, Music: James Bernard, Special Effects: Syd Pearson, Makeup: Phil Leaky, Art Direction: Bernard Robinson. Production Company: Hammer.



If The Curse Of Frankenstein lay the foundations of Chez Cushing, Dracula (Horror Of Dracula in the US) finished the job in glorious red brick, a red as vivid and commanding as those huge letters that proclaim the Good Word: this is a Hammer Film, starring Peter Cushing, about the baddest daddy of them all: DRACULA.


Combined with James Bernard’s three notes of doom, the opening credits for Dracula take on an identity all their own, with that huge Gothic script draped in Technicolur crimson as the usual slew of names role by – John Asher filming Bernard Robinson's sets under the watchful eye of Terence Fisher. Even as the camera moves from the great grey eagle of Castle Drac around the corner to the grave one’s crypt a sense of dread builds, prompted only by a choice of font and score you’ll never forget. As the camera looms long on the coffin (adorned, simply, “Dracula”), a spatter of blood announces the end of the credits long enough for the spell to break and the business of watching the film begin.


Now, that may seem like a lot of time to devote to the opening credits of a horror movie, but I feel it’s merited for not only setting up a great film but a largely great series of films in which Lee’s fanged menace would charm and charge his way through the denizens of countless Germanic towns before making his way to England in the swinging, er, seventies. Beyond presenting the talent involved in the inspiration for your latest nightmares, it exists for a sole purpose, and one for which Hammer can claim great pride and total success: to scare the total shit out of you. A statement of intention, and a sanguine taste of things to come. That blood splashed across the Count’s coffin: where does it come from, or more importantly, to whom does it belong? Questions unresolved throughout the film’s lean 80-minute frame.


Now, given the nature of this blog and why I’m writing it, the first thing I’m inclined to notice within those credits is that Peter Cushing’s name appears before the film’s does and more notably, before its star’s. For his best efforts, Cushing cannot claim ownership of this movie: it belongs to Lee, best here as the Count before the silence or savagery of later outings. It’s curious that even after The Curse Of Frankenstein, Christopher Lee, whose success before that brilliant picture was strictly relative, could not attract star billing for a film in which he bears the title role. Certainly that was to change (and it was, curiously enough, Cushing who would elect to star in a sequel while Lee opted for a single film’s break) but it says something about Cushing’s (what I guess you have to call) star power in the late 1950s that his is the first name we see on screen.


Let’s get into the thick of things though. This film, I think, deserves a lot more consideration than the last few I’ve reviewed on here because as a feast for the senses it is truly sumptuous. Fisher lingers on elaborate décor from candelabra to chessboard like they were going out of fashion. Also, the film’s set in the 1880s, so I guess that’s pretty accurate. But anyway, even though it’s the case that it’s a little harder to be flippant about, I’ll give it my damndest.

We open with the narration of one Jonathan Harker who in this picture (and Herzog’s Nosferatu, fact fans) ends up on a slightly different path than Stoker originally paved. IN THAT HE’S A VAMPIRE HUNTER. Sure, it takes a little while before we find out, but soon enough he reveals his intentions to murder the Count where he sleeps, rather than simply sell him some prime real estate as originally intended.


Hold up a minute though. I’m getting waaaaay ahead of myself. This all comes a little after Harker  has a chance to encounter Hammer’s then-waif-in-residence Valerie Gaunt who asks him for help just before Dracula makes his entrance atop a gorgeous staircase in his gorgeous castle before not mentionably gorgeously bobbing down the stairs (some people’ll have you believe it’s a float, but for me it’s a  bob or it’s nothin’) and greeting our man Hark with the sort of civility and Englishness you’d normally expect of a centuries-old bloodsucker from the dark heart of Europe. A lot of what he says and how he behaves is a dead (geddit?) giveaway but I suppose it’s irrelevant as Harker knows anyway, and I think Dracula knows why he’s there and sets about his night’s hunt, walking off towards the local village at a pace that makes him look a wee bit silly. Don’t tell him I said that though, OK?


Soon enough Ms. Gaunt (who is anything but ) approaches Harker for help again but this time she’s for making a meal of it and Dracula catches her and begins just sort of flinging everybody about a bit. It’s very restrained in terms of Hammer violence (compared especially to the stabbings, face meltings and hangings in later Draculas) but seems all the more powerful for it: he’s like a great white lion, pawing at his prey with the whites of his eyes furiously fit to burst. Harker gets a rough touch to the bonce and falls asleep, awaking in his room but locked in. He heads down to Dracula’s crypt and it dawns on me that the Count’s a little careless and not at all worried about, you know, leaving his sworn enemy in a position where he could easily sneak down and try and murder him, but then he’s made, what, like six or seven successful bids at reanimation over the course of the series so it’s probably something he takes in his not-inconsiderable (as we discussed) stride. Whatever way it goes, Harker bites the dust and we cut to a familiar face.


Twenty Two Minutes To Cushing, may be a more appropriate title for those of us waiting for his first appearance in this film but as soon as he does there’s nothing but gravy to work with. His coat, for a start, is fantastic. Sure, I feel sorry for whatever critter bit the dust, but damn if it don’t make his neck look right and toasty. Now, as far as I’m concerned, it’s alllll just a prelude to Cushing’s last act of awesome action during the film’s climax, but we’ll take everything else as a welcome distraction, and that’s everything from his pronunciation of the word “syooperstition” to his truly spectacular red velvet blazer he wears while listening to recordings of his own voice. Hey, he has the best voice in the history of English cinema: who can blame him?

(Note that this week’s edition of the Peter Cushing fashionwatch is hereby concluded.)


A very stiff and very brown Alfred (sorry, Michael Caine: Mr. Gough is Alfred now and forever) appears and he and Cushing set about their Holmes and Watsonian business good and quick,  but for all their business Dracula’s up to twice as much badness, already paying his nightly visits to one Lucy Holmwood (what is it with these Dracula films’ absolute lack of regard for source material?!) and, well, I’m sure you can guess how that all ends up. He soon turns his attention to Gough’s wife and from hence is the remainder of the film’s largely cat-and-mouse plot played out. It turns quickly into a succession of chases and evasions before the great big caper at the castle which sees Cushing not only leap over a banister but also, in my absolute favourite Peter Cushing Arms Up Moment EVER, run along a dining room table and dive onto a pair of curtains to douse the dastardly count in the morning sun before he crumbles to dust in a technique that lost its appeal with each subsequent (ab)use and really looked at its best here.


If I have one criticism of the film it’s that there’s a little too much time without Lee on screen and given the exquisite gentlemanry of Van Helsing’s and Holmwood’s shenanigans it gets a little stuffy at points but at no point does it not look and feel spectacular. Plus Van Helsing tries that old trick where he pretends to die when being strangled which I’ve always thought seemed like the best policy in those life or death situations. Here’s one to recommend to all your friends, essential viewing for all Cushettes and fans of carefully crafted movies, full stop.


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REVIEW: Paul McNamee
Images: Marcus Brooks

PETER CUSHING BEHIND THE SCENES ON 'THE DEVIL'S MEN' AKA 'LAND OF THE MINOTAUR' 1976


Peter Cushing, Director Kostas Karagiannis and crew on location in Greece for 'The Devil's Men' aka 'Land of the Minotaur' (1976). Also starring Donald Pleasence and Luan Peters. 

PETER CUSHING SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH 'DRACULA TODAY' (1971) / HAMMER FILMS 'DRACULA AD 1972'



Always great to see signed photographs of Peter Cushing. This one maybe falls into the even more interesting category. Written on the back of the photograph, in Cushing's own hand is the pre release title of the film that the portrait is taken from 'Dracula AD 1972'. 'Dracula AD 1972' also starred Stephanie Beacham and Caroline Munro and was directed by Alan Gibson.

Friday, 20 July 2012

PETER CUSHING TAKES A BREAK IN DRESSING ROOM DURING SHOOTING OF HAMMER FILMS 'DRACULA AD 1972'


AFTER A LONG DAY FIGHTING THE LORD OF THE UNDEAD, THERE'S NOTHING LIKE A CUPPA AND A CIGARETTE : EARL GRAY, JOHN PLAYER AND A WHITE COTTON GLOVE OF COURSE! PETER CUSHING REST IN HIS DRESSING ROOM DURING THE SHOOTING OF HIS THIRD OUTING AS VAN HELSING IN HAMMER FILM PRODUCTIONS 'DRACULA AD 1972' (1972)

PETER CUSHING: POSTER SIZE VAN HELSING STILL: HAMMER FILMS 'DRACULA AD 1972'


Great POSTER SIZE photograph of Peter Cushing behind the scenes on Hammer Films 'DRACULA AD 1972'. This photograph downloads as 3291 x 5678!

SPOT THE MOFF! PETER CUSHING IN GREAT BEHIND THE SCENES SHOT FORM 'STAR WARS' (1977)


SPOT THE MOFF! PETER CUSHING ON THE BRIDGE OF THE DEATH STAR AT ELSTREE STUDIOS, UK. 1976 DURING THE MAKING OF 'STAR WARS'

PETER CUSHING PATRICK WYMARK: 'THE SKULL' AMICUS FILMS (1965)


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

PETER CUSHING: INGRID PITT AND DAWN ADDAMS: SAVOY PRESS CALL: HAMMER FILMS: THE VAMPIRE LOVERS


PETER CUSHING INGRID PITT AND DAWN ADDAMS ATTEND A PRESS CALL AT THE SAVOY HOTEL LONDON ON JANUARY 13TH, TO HELP PROMOTE HAMMER FILMS LATEST VAMPIRE VENTURE: 'THE VAMPIRE LOVERS'. SHOOTING BEGAN JUST ONE WEEK LATER.

Friday, 13 July 2012

PETER CUSHING: 'TENDRE DRACULA' : MONSTER MESS : REVIEW AND COLOUR STILLS GALLERY


"Tender Dracula or The Confessions of a Bloodsucker" (1974) was intended to be a comic fantasy with erotic, horror and musical undertones. The writers: Justin Lenoir (original screenplay), Pierre Gruenstein and Harold Brav (adaptation and dialogue) must have drawn inspiration from the British horror comedy stage musical, "The Rocky Horror Show" which made its London debut on June 19th, 1973. Although "Tender Dracula" went into production and was released a year before the film version of "Rocky Horror" hit the big screen, it's obvious the two share more than a passing similarity. For starters, writer Richard O'Brien's experimental "Rocky Horror Show" was itself intended to partly imitate the style of Hammer Horror; specifically "The Revenge of Frankenstein" (1958) starring Peter Cushing, who Gruenstein obviously intended for the role of "MacGregor" in "Tender Dracula". Not surprisingly, both conclude with a castle (or part of one) blasting off into space. The biggest difference between "Tender Dracula" and "Rocky Horror" would seem to be the latter's balance of homage and camp. In comparison, "Tender Dracula" comes off as a crude, discordant and meaningless mixture of silliness and derivative bedroom farce. The true tragedy of "Tender Dracula" might be that nobody seems to be having any fun in it. 


It also seems to suffer from a strange mangling of sensibilities. Why is "MacGregor" the star of a horror television series, and not a full-fledged horror film star like the man who was carefully chosen to portray him? I think it's safe to say that these writers not only intend to play on the audience's own awareness of who Peter Cushing 'the horror star' is, but also to make the two synonymous. Peter Cushing certainly rose to popularity on British television in the 1950s but it was for playing lead roles like "Beau Brummell" and "Mr. Darcy"; not "TV's Arch Fiend" as he is described in Cushing's own shooting script for "Tender Dracula". It's also of interest to note that the Russian co-writer character "Boris" is actually referred to as "Tovarich" once in the script; Cushing starred in the BBC Sunday Night Theatre production of "Tovarich" in 1954. Furthermore, the script begins with a quote from Hamlet (Cushing appeared as "Osric" in Olivier's 1948 Oscar-winning film version): 

"In dreadful secrecy they did impart, 
And I with them the third night kept the watch." 
- William Shakespeare


When given this curious nature of the script, it becomes possible that the pastiche they were aiming for was more directed at Cushing himself than at a particular genre. It becomes even more clear to me why Cushing may have been so eager to take part in something so totally beneath his talents. Perhaps there was more to it than just keeping morbidly busy following the crushing blow of his wife Helen's death a few years prior, or the thought of spending time filming in France. Maybe there were just too many fond references to Cushing's own career imbedded in the pages (and the lure of finally playing an actual 'monster' for a change). How virtually none of this fondness, or reverence if you will, for Cushing 'the man' manages to come through the finished product is frustrating to say the least. Equally as befuddling are the scenes of awkward dialogue and arduous humor that come across more like a child's attempt to mount an impromptu play in the family living room. Not to mention the infamous Cushing spanking scene. 


There are some moments of genuine interest though. Discounting the perplexing experience of hearing Cushing bellow several of his lines (the purpose of which remains unknown) he does look expectably refined in his Lugosi-modeled vampire attire. There is also a justifiably memorable 'flashback' scene in which Cushing plays his own character's grandfather (complete with a few photos of Cushing from some of his more notable film roles). It's probably the high point of the entire film, in addition to watching Cushing dance the waltz a few scenes earlier. The jazzy score by Karl Heinz Schäfer provides a suitably moody groove and is of some interest to obscure soundtrack collectors. While unfortunately not an anomaly in Peter Cushing's long and celebrated career, "Tender Dracula" does maintain its righteous place as a generally painful to watch, truly confounding medley of ingredients; or perhaps just the poor man's "Rocky Horror."


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Review: Carl Danter
Images: Marcus Brooks

PETER CUSHING: PAGES FROM PETER CUSHING'S ANNOTATED 'VAMPIRELLA' SCRIPT


ALL THE FOLLOWING PAGES ARE FROM PETER CUSHING'S
 PERSONAL SCRIPT.










SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH OF THE ACTRESSES WHO MAY HAVE PLAYED
VAMPIRELLA : BARBARA LEIGH


THE BACK COVER TO THE FAMOUS MONSTERS NYC CONVENTION OF
1975.

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