#GRABTHECUSHIONITSCUSHING... OK here is the first of our SUNDAY posts under our new theme looking at some of the most frightening and effect Peter Cushing Fright Scenes.... This week it's a clip Don't forget to click HD) from that iconic NIGHTMARE scene from Amicus's The House That Dripped Blood (1971)...we'll be taking a closer look at the scene and direction in our next post coming up...DOES THIS scene rate in your FAV CUSHING terror scenes??? #grabthecushingitscushing
THE 1971 AMICUS FILM, 'THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD' came at a difficult time for Peter Cushing... it couldn't have came at a worse time! The production started shooting from June 29th at a studio knew very well, Shepperton. At this time, Cushing's wife Helen was experiencing a deterioration in her health, because of this Cushing had tried to get the suits at Amicus, to release him from the contract and schedule from 'House'. While Hammer films had been sympathetic, and released him from his contract and appearance in their latest installment of their Karnstein trilogy , 'Lust For A Vampire' . Cushing Had appeared in the first part, 'THE VAMPIRE LOVERS' and the last, 'TWINS OF EVIL' But, sadly Amicus dig in their heels, with Cushing having no choice but to for-fill his contractual obligations. 'House' followed, what was the resurrection of of a format that had severed Amicus very well in their 1965 film, 'Dr Terrors House of Horrors'. What took them so long to revist the portmanteau set up, with only ONE multiple story film after 'Dr Terrors' - Torture Garden (1967), with almost everything in that gap of eight years being a box office dud, one can only guess.
CUSHING SEGMENT IN 'HOUSE', centered around a WAX WORKS, in a story with the same name. Cushing played a retired stockbrooker named Phillip Grayson who along with Neville Rogers, played Joss Ackland.. becomes obsessed with the wax figure of biblical nightmare, SALOME! Yes, she who demanded the head of one, John The Baptist, on a plate . . . so you can see where this is going!
THE ACTUAL NIGHTMARE sequence in Cushing's tale, for me the the high point of the film. If you forgive the corny mishmash of music accompanying the scene, full of clanging death bells and Swanee whistles, and some quite tatty wax figures... it is really quiet effective. I know the museum is supposed to look like it had hit on hard times, but the last time I saw figures as bad as that, was as a child, in the wax museum at Weston-Super-Mare! The scene builds up the tension and in real time, from Cushing's exit OUT of the front door, of his newly acquired property, the titular, House That Dripped Blood, and into the interior of the waxworks he has recently visited. The camera, sets about through a series of dutch tilts, slow motion and back tracking, purposely in front of Cushing, to take in all his looks of bewilderment and horror.....
AND WE KNOW FOLLOW CUSHING, past the figures, and to an curtained exhibit at the rear of the wax works. What makes this scene so chilling is Cushing's character's longing to reach the point of attraction...and its that fact that provides the 'grab the cushion moment'! We REALLY don't want him to get there, and reveal what is BEHIND those curtains. It's a NIGHTMARE, and is the stuff of OUR nightmares too, all accuratarely replicated in a scene that gets the the pay off it style. Yes, it's pretty tame by today's standards, but I can remember hiding behind that cushion, and being truly spooked. Spooked enough to not go into a wax works, until well into my adult years!
THERE IS ANOTHER REASON WHY this clip has earned this title of 'A NIGHTMARE IN THE WORKS' . . . as I have shared, even before Cushing commenced work on this film, the signs were not good, and the clouds of sadness not only loomed in Cushing's life away from the spotlight, but it also hung heavy over the story he was appearing in. As David Miller recalls in his book, 'A LIFE IN FILM: Peter Cushing', 'The most affecting part of The House That Dripped Blood' are the shots of Cushing, standing on a riverbank, lost in the grief for his lost love. It is difficult not to think that he was in some way anticipating the unendurable - Helen's death.'
For Peter Cushing, it would be a true and lasting nightmare . . .
OUR FULL FEATURE AND GALLERY ON 'The House That Dripped Blood' in PART THREE of our AMICUS SERIES can be found at our website : RIGHT HERE
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