Monday, 30 June 2014


#MonsterMonday : Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein, with Christopher Lee as the Creation ...#thecurseoffrankenstein #hammerfilms 1957 Directed by Terence Fisher. A film with a great story, sets, music, cast and some pretty good dialogue too!

#MonsterMonday : Not all of Peter Cushing's Frankenstein's 'monster's' looked like the last thing you would want to meet down a dark alleyway. This one, was quite the opposite. A relatively unknown actresses when she came to the role of Christina Kleeve's in Hammer films 'Frankenstein Created Woman' in 1967, Denberg's eventual beauty is the perfect mask that hides a heart bent on revenge and murder, giving us a the monster, that given the chance based on appearances, we would be quite happily take out to dinner...and a trip to the cinema!


Look Out for our 'So You Think You Know : Peter Cushing?' Competition THIS WEEKEND 5th / 6th July 2014! There are THREE COPIES of  Peveril Publishing's THE PETER CUSHING SCRAPBOOK up for grabs!

The Peter Cushing Scrapbook:
Leading fantasy film historians Wayne Kinsey (Hammer Films – the Bray Studios Years, The Elstree Studios Years, A Life in Pictures, the Unsung Heroes and On Location) and Tom Johnson (Hammer Films – an Exhaustive Filmography, Peter Cushing – the Gentle Man of Horror and his 91 Films and The Films of Oliver Reed) come together with Joyce Broughton (Cushing’s secretary and aide for over 35 years) to present the definitive pictorial history to Peter Cushing. A perfectionist in his work and a talented artist in every sense of the word with a great sense of humour and always a boy at heart. The Peter Cushing Scrapbook is a unique pictorial book packed with Cushing memorabilia that showcases his private and professional life:
Watercolor paintings,sketches, bird drawings, Tudor Tea Room Profiles, costume designs, humorous cartoons drwn for his wife, Helen. Painted scarf and jewelry designs, model theatre sets, letters, annotated pages. Notations for photographs written by Peter Cushing, candid photographs. Material from the estate of director, Roy Ward Baker. Film props. An alternative script for Hammer films 'Captain Clegg' and rare material from two unfilmed Hammer film projects to have starred Peter Cushing: Kali - Devil Bride of Dracula and The Savage Jackboot and rare cinema posters...  

Sunday, 29 June 2014


NEWS: SPECIAL EDITION COMING SOON to BLU RAY and DVD : 'SHOCK WAVES' (1977) starring Peter Cushing, John Carradine and Brooke Adams. Resolution: 1080p, Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1. Region A. Brooke Adams has been recently interviewed for inclusion in the extras along with, Composer Richard Einhorn discussing his score for SHOCK WAVES, More details on EXTRAS and RELEASE soon as we get it!


We have our WINNERS! Picked out of the hat, just two hours ago....Congratulations PAULA T (USA) and E Passmore (Australia)! Your blu rays of 'Captain Clegg are on their way! Many thanks to the guys at Final Cut Entertainment for generously providing our prizes

NOW... here are the questions and answers to the competition. How did you do?

1: WHO wrote the DR SYN novels? Please give their full name, the year and date they were born.
Answer: Arthur Russell Thorndike, born 6 February 1885

2: This author also had a famous SISTER. Please name her. Answer: Dame Agnes Sybil Thorndike

3: What is the FULL name of DR SYN?
Answer: Reverend Doctor Christopher Syn

4: What was the FIRST DR SYN novel was called? What Year was it published and who were they publishing company?
Answer: Doctor Syn: A Tale of the Romney Marsh, published in 1915 by Nelson Press

5:The author of the DR SYN novels was also an actor. One of his last performances was in a film that also starred PETER CUSHING. NAME that film.
Answer: Hamlet (1948)

6: CAPTAIN CLEGG was released as part of a HAMMER FILM DOUBLE BILL in 1961. NAME the film that SHARED the billing. 
Answer: The Phantom of the Opera

7: DR CLEGG's producer was John Temple Smith. He was also the chairman of a small film company. NAME that film company.
Answer: Major Productions

8: When Anthony Hinds adapted the DR SYN script for Hammer Films, DR BLYSS wasn't his only name for the Captain he intended for the Captain...Which other name did he have in mind?
Answer: Dr Arne

9: WHEN did CAPTAIN CLEGG commence production? Tuesday 29th March.. Thursday 4th Feb.. Monday 25th September.. Monday 4th August..
Answer: Monday 25th September

Answer: Fifth

11: During the shooting of CAPTAIN CLEGG, OLIVER REED had an accident while driving his car, but he carried on not only shooting on CAPTAIN CLEGG but also doing some of his own stunt work. Did he break his: A) LEGG? B) FOOT? C) SHOULDER? Or D) HAND? 
Answer: Shoulder

12: DAVID LODGE played the BOSON in CAPTAIN CLEGG. Lodge is probably better known for his comedy work with Spike Mulligan and Peter Sellers. Which  FILM connects both Milligan and Peter Cushing?
Answer: Suspect (1960)t

13: Which Hammer film crew member was responsible for throwing the HARPOON, off camera, into CAPTAIN CLEGG’S/ Peter Cushing back? A) Peter Graham Scott B) Les Bowie C) Ian Scoones D) Tilley Day
Answer: Ian Scoones

14: Make Up Artist, ROY ASHTON not only worked on Hammer films CAPTAIN CLEGG in 1961, but also worked on the first production of the DR SYN story in 1937 for Gaumount Pictures. TRUE or FALSE 
Answer: True

15: During the making of CAPTAIN CLEGG Peter Cushing presented Hammer films’ script writer Anthony Hinds with a script and treatment for a DR SYN Hammer films sequel. The script was based on the second and third novels, Dr Syn on the High Seas and Dr Syn Returns. Cushing’s script was dated July 1961 and had a working title of a) Dr Syn, The Quality of Mercy ? b) Dr Syn : Wild Justice ? c) Dr Syn : Waiting Revenge ?
Answer: ANY of these three titles would be considered correct, as Cushing had all all THREE titles in pencil with title Dr Syn on his script!

16: Actor Patrick Allen played Captain Collier in CAPTAIN CLEGG. He had previously appeared in another Hammer film. Name the film and the character he played.
Answer: 'Never Take Sweets from a Stranger', Peter Carter.

That's it! Thank you to everyone who took part in the competition, it wasn't any easy one, for sure. Join Us THIS WEEK for our 'SO YOU THINK YOU KNOW: PETER CUSHING Competition! With THREE copies of 'The Peter Cushing Scapbook' up for grabs!

You can Purchase YOUR copy of CAPTAIN CLEGG BLU RAY

You can purchase YOUR copy of The Peter Cushing Scapbook 



Do You Have A Granny Mo too?
IF there was a prize for PHOTO OF THE WEEK...this would win it! Bless.... You remember Simon Warwick? He won our 'So You Think You Know Dracula' competition, last week. And very pleased he was too! Well, you know how I always try and persuade winners to send us a pic from their phone of themselves with their prize goodies? 

Well, this PIC is what I received in an email a day or so ago.. This ISN'T Simon Warwick, this is Granny Maureen or Granny Mo, as she is affectionately know by the family. Simon's grandmother, is also a HUGE Cushing fan, and it was she, says Simon, that introduced him to all things Cushing, with regular PC and Hammer Film Fests on dvd and tv at Granny Mo's home at weekends. Simon is 18 and camera shy.... and he felt SHE should be in the pic, rather than him. Granny Mo is 83 and hates cameras too! BUT, they didn't want to seem ungrateful and let us down, they wanted to send in a pic.....and here we have it. So, thank you, Simon and thank you Granny Mo. The pic is perfect and I am glad your prizes got there safely Now, this got me thinking, how did you discover Peter Cushing? Did someone 'lead the way' like Simon's Granny Mo? Was it your Mum, Dad, a friend? Tell us your stories, we'd all love to read them!


NEXT WEEK'S COMPETITION: Great responses to our 'So You Think You Know, Dracula ? and Captain Clegg ? Competitions.. Now we have one to really test your gray matter! 'So You Think You Know PETER CUSHING?' Look out FOR THIS COMPETITION this next week, answer TEN multiple choice question on Peter Cushing and you could be winning one of the THREE copies of Peveril Publishing's 'THE PETER CUSHING SCRAPBOOK' that are up for grabs! ! A superb 328 pictorial book packed with Cushing memorabilia that showcases his private and professional life. A Peter Cushing fan MUST HAVE!

If you can't wait until the competition, and want to order yourself a copy, just click this link, and the guys at Peveril will very happy to wing you a copy! Look out for our competition promo banners, get digging through your scrapbooks and dvd's for that info. I think, we're going to have some fun!

Saturday, 28 June 2014


An English coastal town serves as the haven for a gang of smugglers and it’s up to the intrepid Captain Collier (Patrick Allen) to unmask them and bring them to justice …

In 1961, Hammer embarked upon adapting the adventure stories of Russell Thorndike, hoping to bridge the gap between their Gothic horror films and their recent attempts at more “family friendly” swashbuckler fare, including Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960) and The Pirates of Blood River (1961). Their efforts were nearly squashed when word got out that Walt Disney acquired the rights to the stories and was mounting his own, bigger budgeted adaptation with Patrick McGoohan. Happily, a compromise was reached: Hammer would be allowed to use the 1937 film version of Doctor Syn as their template, provided they didn’t actually use the name of Dr. Syn.  Since this was the model they were looking to follow anyway, the matter was amicably resolved and the company was free to move forward with what would become Captain Clegg.

Released in the US under the more horrific title of Night Creatures, the film offers up some classic Hammer horror imagery while playing things in a lighter, more family-friendly key.  Bloodshed is kept to a minimum and the supernatural angle is rationally explained in the final reel.  The emphasis is more on derring do and adventure, with large doses of impish humor, though the opening scenes would seem to promise more scares and chills.  Many reference books therefore list the film as a horror film, but truth be told it’s no more horror in the strictest sense than their later “historical melodrama,” Rasputin the Mad Monk (1966).  Even so, the spooky imagery on display is very potent indeed and anybody willing to accept the film as a more genteel genre offering – a sort of Hammer Horror For The Whole Family – is hardly doing the film a disservice in doing so.

Peter Cushing gives one of his finest performances as the meek Reverend Dr. Blyss, who is in fact actually the notorious pirate Captain Clegg.  Clegg is believed to have been executed years before and indeed, for all intents and purposes this is the case: having narrowly escaped the hangman’s noose, he turns over a new leaf and settles down under his assumed identity, doing good deeds and rescuing his poor village from poverty… while still doing a little light smuggling on the side.  It’s a fascinating character which allows Cushing to switch between being soft spoken and grimly authoritative without missing a beat; in this sense, it’s something of a dry run for what is arguably his finest performance for Hammer, as Baron Frankenstein in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), wherein his courtly exterior helps to mask a perverse and vile reality.  Captain Collier is the nominal hero, but he’s scripted as something of a dolt and Patrick Allen sensibly plays him that way, allowing Cushing to quietly steal their scenes.  Allen is very effective in the part, truth be told, and his willingness to play up the character’s thick-headed and self-righteous persona makes him a very satisfying adversary for Clegg.  23-year-old Oliver Reed, just a few years away from becoming England’s biggest box office draw, is very good as the dashing Harry.

Reed was one of the few younger actors at Hammer who could take the romantic interest roles and make them into something interesting and he certainly makes the best of his screen time here.  His love interest is played by Yvonne Romain, arguably the most drop dead gorgeous woman ever to grace a Hammer film, and she does well enough as the usual under written damsel in distress.  The supporting cast includes a number of stellar character actors: Jack MacGowran (The Fearless Vampire Killers, The Exorcist), David Loge (Corruption, The Return of the Pink Panther), Martin Benson (Gorgo, The Omen)… but if anybody comes close to stealing the show from its star, it’s the wonderful Michael Ripper.  Ripper was often squandered in minor roles for Hammer, but he has a rare meaty role in this films and he delivers a moving and amusing performance.

Well directed by Peter Graham Scott and boasting a stirring Don Banks soundtrack, Captain Clegg also moves at a good clip and holds up as a marvelous piece of Saturday matinee afternoon entertainment.

Captain Clegg makes its Blu-ray debut courtesy of Final Cut in the UK. The region B presentation has garnered some controversy online, but truly: when DOESN’T a Hammer Blu-ray release garner a bit of grousing?  On the downside, the master provided by Universal is overmatted at 2:1. This is simply what Final Cut had to work with and that’s all there is to it: all the complaining in the world isn’t going to result in a new master being struck for a relatively obscure catalogue title such as this. With that caveat in mind, the framing is thoughtfully done and doesn’t look unduly tight, excepting one or two shots here and there.  Colors are vivid, detail is strong and the source materials are in good shape.  Some of the optical effects look a little weak, but on the whole the image is robust and pleasing to the eye. The mono English soundtrack is very good, too: Banks’ score has lots of pep and the dialogue is easy to make out.

English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing are included.  Extras include a 30 minute featurette narrated by the wonderful John Carson title The Making of Captain Clegg.  Hammer historian Wayne Kinsey scripted and introduced the piece, which is mostly comprised of Carson talking over behind the scenes images and documents; Carson’s marvelous, James Mason-like voice makes this a pleasure to watch and Kinsey’s script packs in plenty of interesting information and production background.  Up next is another featurette, The Mossman Legacy: George Mossman’s Carriage Collection, wherein Kinsey takes us on a tour of the collection of carriages leant by the late George Mossman to English production companies, including Hammer.  It’s an interesting glimpse into a crucial but often neglected aspect of film production and breezes by at a mere 6 minutes. Lastly, there is a stills gallery.

Images and Design Marcus Brooks




Sunday, 22 June 2014


AWAKENING AVALON: Encounters with an ancient force – stronger even than the fanatical dreams of science… 

"The forces of evil have never died; maybe there have been periods when they’ve slept – but never for long. The twentieth century was a time of particular evil, but when a time-lock automatically opened in a mysterious vault under Wewelsburg Castle in Germany in 1995, the prospect of a new evil being unleashed on the world became more than merely a dark fear. 

By 2004, when the main action of Awakening Avalon takes place, this fear had become a reality as the tentacles of evil were twitching at the possibilities provided by the rapid developments of science. But, just as there are forces of evil, so there are – on watch, waiting, the forces of good. Once invoked, they must do battle…

AWAKENING AVALON is an extraordinary journey as the action flies from the days immediately after the Second World War through to the hi-tech citadel of modern San Francisco, finally coming to rest in the peaceful precincts of Mercia Cathedral and in the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey in England – where the contest between good and evil must finally be played out.

For those who like the Arthurian legends, then several characters will be well known to them – but never as seen like this!

Awakening Avalon didn't start out it's life as a novel. It was to have been film. And reading the novel, one can easily see what an amazing film it would have been. Unfortunately, the whole deal fell into a nightmare of development and studio politics and more. You can read all about this in our exclusive interview with Stephen Weeks next weekend and his forthcoming book, 'Stairs Of Sand'. But, what is the Peter Cushing connection in this competition, you maybe thinking...?

Stephen Weeks 'It was ready to go into production. All cast. It would have been Peter Cushing's and Christopher Lee's last film together...' 



Who DO YOU think Would Have Played Who?: Here's your chance to play Casting Director! There are some excellent characters in Stephen Weeks' book, Awakening Avalon. It would have a real treat to have seen them on the big screen. And another teaming of Cushing and Lee together! Who Do You Think Would have Played Which Characters? If you don't own a copy of Stephen Weeks' Awakening Avalon, it's available, very reasonable priced on AMAZON  and is also on KINDLE.

This competition is NOW OPEN and doesn't close until SUNDAY AUGUST 3rd 2014. So, plenty of time to enter and get your copy, if you don't already have one!


For the FIRST PRIZE WINNER, we have an outstanding prize. Stephen's next book is entitled 'Stairs Of Sand' and tells the story begining in his early career right up to the present day, in the warts and all world of the film industry. Stephen has very generously donated a SIGNED PROOF COPY of 'STAIRS OF SAND' and at an agreed time to both parties, will take the winner along with their partner/spouse to dinner! Which I think you will agree is a pretty amazing prize?

For SIX RUNNERS UP: We also have SIX SIGNED copies of 'STAIRS OF SAND', Stephen's forthcoming book.

'Good luck everyone! I hope you enjoy the book and have fun with the competition. I look foward to meeting the winner over dinner! : Stephen Weeks

If you have any questions or queries regarding the competition, please email me at the usual email address, marking it Stephen Weeks Competition : 

Saturday, 21 June 2014


Looking to put the debacle of Madhouse behind them, Amicus looked to another short story for inspiration.  Subotsky settled on “There Shall Be No Darkness” by James Blish.  It is, in essence, a conflation of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (aka, Ten Little Indians) and Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game, with elements of the werewolf mythos stirred in for good measure.

In the hands of first time director Paul Annett (who would later go on to direct some good episodes of the Granada Sherlock Holmes series starring Jeremy Brett), The Beast Must Die rattles along at a pretty good clip – but sadly, it falls short where the werewolf itself is concerned.  Sooner than make up the actor playing the werewolf (no spoilers here, folks!), they elected to try and make a friendly looking pooch look intimidating with some extra fur and “creepy” lighting and camera angles.  It doesn’t work. Thus, the finale doesn’t have quite the punch that it really should.

As usual for Amicus, there’s a good cast on display. The lead role went to African-American Calvin Lockhart when the original choice, Robert Quarry (Count Yorga, Vampire), proved to be unavailable; much like Vincent Price, who had been forced to pass on The House That Dripped Blood, Quarry rankled when his boss at American International Pictures refused to release him to do a horror film for a “competitor” such as Amicus.  According to Annett’s commentary track on the DVD release of the film, Lockhart proved to be difficult to deal with, as he resented that the role was not conceived for a black actor and he believed that the producers were simply trying to cash in on the then-popular Blaxploitation movement.  In response to this, Lockhart played up the character’s wealth and culture, resisting the urge to fall into any kind of an ethnic stereotype. It’s an enjoyably arch performance, but one can sense the actor struggling against the material, and one is left regretting that Quarry was not allowed to do the picture instead.

Amicus surrounded Lockhart with some wonderfully accomplished performers, including Charles Gray (Diamonds Are Forever), Anton Diffring (Where Eagles Dare) and, of course, Peter Cushing. Cushing is cast in his usual savant role, but the whodunit nature of the material ensures that he, too, comes under suspicion of being a werewolf. Cushing doesn’t have a great deal to do here, and he adopts a somewhat inconsistent Norwegian accent, but he’s still a welcome presence. Diffring, often cast as icy villains, is enjoyable in a warmer-than-usual role, as Lockhart’s sardonic surveillance expert, while Gray is his usual acerbic and amusing self as one of the reluctant houseguests. The film also contains an early appearance by Michael Gambon, later to achieve fame as the hero of Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective and numerous films by Stephen Frears, Tim Burton, and others. Beautiful Marlene Clark (Ganja and Hess) is the only other black actor in the production, and she gives arguably the film’s strongest performance, as Lockhart’s long-suffering wife.

The production looks classy enough, provided one can accept the very 70s fashions.  Jack Hildyard (an Oscar winner for films like Bridge on the River Kwai) handles the cinematography, which is slick if not especially memorable; some bad day for night photography betray the haste with which the film was shot, however.

Douglas Gamley contributes a funky score which has been derided in recent years as being dated… Films inevitably reflect the period in which they were made, however, and the music is no more distracting in this sense than the bell bottoms and butterfly collars which are evident throughout.  Annett handles the material with smooth efficiency, milking maximum impact from a few key suspense scenes.

By this stage in the game, it became apparent that Amicus was on the decline.  Subotsky’s relationship with Rosenberg was deteriorating rapidly and while he didn’t realize it yet, the writing was on the wall.  Even so, they plunged ahead with an ambitious production which appealed to Subotsky’s interest in fantasy and science fiction.

At the Earth’s Core (1976) was the second of three films that Amicus would make based on the stories of Edgar Rice Burroghs. Best remembered today for Tarzan of the Apes, Burroghs (1875-1950) wrote a number of colorful action-adventure stories, many with a strong fantasy/sci-fi component. At the Earth’s Core, first published in 1914, was the first of his “Pellucidar” series of stories.  “Pellucidar” was a hollow version of the Earth, populated with various tribes and assorted creatures; in the story, David Innes and eccentric inventor Albert Perry burrow into the center of the Earth thanks to one of Perry’s inventions and encounter plenty of action and intrigue.

The success of the story lead to several followups: Pellucidar (1915), Tanar of Pellucidar (1929), Tarzan at the Earth’s Core (1929), Back to the Stone Age (1937), Land of Terror (1944), and the posthumously published Savage Pellucidar (1963), which gathered together several unpublished short stories that continued the mythology.

Taken in the spirit in which it is intended, At the Earth’s Core is innocuous fun. Director Kevin Connor does the best he can with a juvenile script and production values which, while adequate, fail to adequately come to grips with the ambitious mythology of the subject matter. The film looks professional enough, but the special effects are tacky—very much of the stuntmen in rubber suits playing monsters school—and there’s never any real sense of menace generated. Cinematographer Alan Hume does what he can to create a bit of atmosphere and Mike Vickers contributes a passable soundtrack.

The handsome but bland McClure makes for a handsome but bland hero, while the normally splendid Peter Cushing falls down rather badly in one of his grating “silly old man” characterizations.  Perry, as presented by Subotsky, is an absent minded professor type and Cushing is true to this—but it really doesn’t work very well and his constant calling out of his sidekick’s name becomes grating.  Caroline Munro looks absolutely gorgeous, of course, as the Pellucidarian who becomes the object of McClure’s affection but she doesn’t have much to do beyond uttering some idiotic lines and doing her best to look threatened by the rubber monsters.

Sadly, this would prove to be the end of the line, Amicus-wise, for both Cushing and Subotsky.  Subotsky would relocate to Canada for a time and gamely tried to carry on the anthology tradition with such films as The Uncanny (1977) and The Monster Club (1980); Cushing would come along for the former but passed on the latter, as did Christopher Lee—one can hardly blame them.  Subotsky would secure the rights to some Stephen King properties in the 1980s and got a credit on the King anthology film Cat’s Eye (1985), but it didn’t amount to much.  His final credits, again based on King properties, would be released posthumously: Lawnmower Man (1992) and Sometimes That Come Back … Again (1996). Subotsky died in 1996.

Rosenberg would follow in 2004. The end may have been contentious and fraught with difficulties, but the films these two men produced together in the 1960s and 70s stand as some of the most engaging and appealing British genre films ever made.  For Peter Cushing, they would represent some of his most interesting character work, as well. On that level, for sure, it proved to be a match made in heaven.

The Amicus Films of Peter Cushing was written by Troy Howarth
with images and artwork by Marcus Brooks.

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