Wednesday, 5 July 2017


#SILENTBUTDEADLYWEDNESDAY!: PLAYING THE ROLE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES was something that Peter Cushing enjoyed very much indeed. Being a student of the stories and everything that went along with that, was indeed  a Cushing thing! Cushing had an eye and attention for detail, pouring over the structure and methods, in the story of 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' for Hammer films in 1959, he was very much in his element. 

THE FACT THAT he signed on for the Hammer Hound, then in 1968 16 episodes of the BBC television serial and finally choose to neatly wind down his career, with a 90 min tv movie The Masks of Death in 1984, playing an elderly Holmes, who was also bringing his long and distinguished career to an end, says much. Had failing heath not intervened, Cushing would have rubbed his hands together and prepared for another feature film, The Abbott's Cry,  in 1985. But sadly, it was not to be.

#SILENTBUTDEADLYWEDNESDAY!: WHEN DIRECTOR Peter Duffell read the script for 'THE CLOAK' story that was part of the four stories that made up Amicus films, 'The House That Dripped Blood' in 1972, he started to form a plan. The script outlined the climax and death of Jon Pertwee's vampire character, and that this particular tale was to be 'the comic relief' in the film. He hit on the idea, that maybe the comedy should be cranked up to max, and that the chase and staking would great if, it was shot and edited in a 'silent movie style'. He almost got his way. The producers first wasn't sure if this sudden changed of gear would lose the audience, and ruin the tension that had been built with the previous story. They drew the line at the use of black white photography and a flicker effect.

ORIGINALLY, Duffell wanted the whole story to be shot in monochrome, and the death scene to be sped up, with a 'keystone cop' frame flicker. Producers tuned Duffel's idea down, pleading that monochrome would be far too expensive for an entire 15 to 20 minutes, and that the flicker would jarring. But,  Duffell did get his under-cranked camera speed, and a slap-stick ending. NOTE: Subotsky liked the concept of a story set in a horror film on the Hollywood studio lot, and revisited the idea in one of his last anthology films, 'The Uncanny' starring Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasence in 1977.

#SILENTBUTDEADLYWEDNESDAY! THIS SHOT gets requested a lot! Director Freddie Francis must have known he was really onto something when he came up with idea, of POV shooting through the SKULL'S eye sockets in Amicus films, 'THE SKULL' much so he repeated the whole thing in Tigon's 'THE CREEPING FLESH' with Peter Cushing a few years later! Point Of View camera work was nothing new in 1965, but through a skull? Yup. 

FREDDIE CRANKED up the terror with whole sequences of POV's in Tyburn film, 'LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF' with Peter Cushing. The added effect this time, was a RED tint to the vision, giving the impression we were 'seeing what the werewolf' could see through his bloodshot eyes! It was very effective and saved money in the budget on showing the werewolf too!

#SILENTBUTDEADLYWEDNESDAY! I DON'T get requests for title sequences from trailers that often, but this one is a good one. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee credits, with supportive text from 'THE GORGON' (Hammer 1964) I LOVE the font styles in 1950 and 6o's trailers. They seem to scream from the screen at you. Back in the day, text added to film was done in the labs optically, and was a highly skilled job. There were standard text styles that were used in rolling credits to be seen at the end of beginning of most films. But often, for something that came from Hammer films, the studio would ask for something a little special, like the title font style in these gifs here. Illustrators would attempt to evoke the genre or subject matter of the film through the letter forms. Here sharp, angular typography is used evoke the disturbing subject matter, also maybe echoing the work of German Expressionist illustrators like Josef Fenneker. 

IN THE DAYS BEFORE SOUND FEATURES, titles were standard and used to communicate the dialogue and direction of the story, but by the mid-late 1930s, film titles started serving a narrative function and were designed to prepare the viewer for the mood and story of the film. Hammer, Amicus and Tigon used this very effectively. 

AT THE TIME  THE GORGON was in production, title artists like SAUL BASS had made the film title an art form, with films like PSYCHO. Bass titles were legendary and he created what are still some of the best title designs for directors like Alfred Hitchcock. Bass once said, “For the average audience, the credits tell them there’s only three minutes left to eat popcorn… I aim to set up the audience for what’s coming; make them expectant,” says Bass. DO YOU have a favorite TITLE SEQUENCE from a Peter Cushing films? We are planning a feature all about title sequences in Cushing films. I would love to hear about it!


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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