Wednesday, 12 December 2018


ITEMS LIKE THIS, dont come along that often, these days. When they do, it's one or two items in an auction, like Peter Cushing smoking jacket, that he wore in Amicus Films, 'The House That Dripped Blood' or a one off item of clothing from his persoanl wardrobe, purchased originally, in the THREE Cushing auctions that happened a year or so after his passing. You would think, that an item like the one we feature today maybe, was part of the whole mountain of lots, in one of those said auctions, arranged by Peter Cushing personal assistant and close friends, Joyce or Bernard Broughton. But nope. According to the description that accompanies this item on EBAY, it is  . .. 'A collection of military flags for war gaming / display / diorama use, hand painted / finished by the actor and Hammer Horror star Peter Cushing as a gift for his friend Don Houghton, the British television screenwriter...'

CURRENTLY WHILE WRITING THIS, 'Rare One-Off Collection covering mainly Waterloo era' has 22 bidders arm wrestling and uping the lolly, to a handsome £435.00 UK pounds already! AND there is another whole day to go, before the bidding wraps! Peter would have been gobsmacked! It's no secret now, but probably after an initial scrum of Women's Magazines reporters and Tidbits (!) tabloid newspapers photographers turned up at Peter and Helen Cushing's home in the 1950's and 60's to take snaps and interview the couple about Peter's 'Hobbies', everyone forgot, about the painter artist and crafts man, who studio attic BULGED with hundreds of items of his work. His love of painting and creating everything from working model theatres, aircraft, thousands of model soldiers and figures, all sadly came to an end, when his wife Helen died in 1971. Peter made personal hand painted and crafted birthday cards for his wife, and their many friends. It appears that his made gifts for them too!

AS HE WAS on the studio floor, in his many performances, so he was in his off screen life and his creative hobies. Nothing was not studied, all prepared and created with style and acurate! Not being a player of WAR GAMES, I have no idea how this game that Peter created works! But he had many friends who DID. One being scriptwriter and good friend Don Houghton. Houghton had worked on several of the Hammer films, that Peter starred in too. Houghton had a career that first took him into the worlds of BBC's DOCTOR WHO in 1970, he wrote the screenplay for TV's 'The Flaxton Boys' in the late 60's, and cut his teeth on 38 episodes of 'Emergency Ward 10' soap for ITV. Houghton was also producer on a few of his Hammer film scripts. He penned for Peter Cushing's last three Dracula Hammer movies, 'Dracula AD 1972', Christopher Lee's final fanged fling in 'The Satanic Rites of Dracula' and Cushing's two bow outs from the Hammer world on the big screen, with 'The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires' and 'Shatter' both made in Hong Kong. 

ONE CAN ONLY TAKE a guess, at why Peter made this particular themed gift for Houghton, but it seems likey that his friend was a fan of playing the 'LITTLE WAR GAMES' too! The seller's description gives us somew clues: 'This collection has obviously been a labour of love for Peter for his good friend Don Houghton, the delicate handpainted flags/standards are so colourful and detailed. The boxes that house all the military flags also look to be handmade and each item is compartmented and carefully wrapped in tissue paper. Peter's love of art, military games and attention to detail are all apparent here. This is really a one-off museum piece. ......The only slight downside is that somewhere along the line a few of the flags/standards are not in the box anymore possibly from being played with by Mr Houghton or his family! 64 out of the original 75 made by Peter are still present and wrapped in their original tissue paper. 

ONE OF THE MANY ATTRACTIVE THINGS  about this very attractive item is that EVERYTHING that needed text, lettering, headings... with exception of a few words on the cover of the game instruction booklet, which look to be maybe transfer Letrasets... are ALL in Peter's beautiful handwriting. This is an amazing piece! Whoever wins the auction, will own a fantastic example of Peter's very skillful and artistic ability.. and of a man who genuinely cared and loved his close friends. Good luck to all the bidders! 

Many thanks to  Chris Hill and J Edward Scott who brought this to my attention! Thank you guys!

AND NOW, ONTO THE COLLECTING of the thing, that seems to be within the reach of most of our budgets! A blu ray box set of PETER CUSHING films. SEVERIN released what was hoped to be, a very popular set of THREE films and a quite extensive documentary in an interesting CUSHING and AMICUS box set last year. THE AMICUS COLLECTION, including The Vault of Amicus documentray. This documentary must be the third or fifth release, be it on blu ray, dvd's or a book, that has juggled and tried to get another DEFINITIVE Amicus title, using the word VAULT, in connection with the 1973 Amicus film, Vault Of Horror . ..  which by the way, isn't included in the THREE films that make this set.


ANY BROWSE THROUGH the net for reviews of this box set, will sadly bring up a real mixed bag. Seems many reviewers had set their hopes for something EXTRA special. When they felt they didn't get that, they gave the release an EXTRA special booting and mauling! IF you are a fan of Amicus, and want the most recent release, on a blu ray, with LOTS of ok to very good extras, THIS is YOUR BAG! IF you are a collector of Cushing, Amicus feature films, and you like to some improvement, if not THE definitive cleaned, remastered version, you maybe a little disappointed. These titles would probably not be seen by most Cushing fans, as THE cream of the Amicus / Cushing bunch, and some might even say, that if asked, they would have opted for 'Tales from the Crypt', 'Dr Terror's House of Horrors' and the still missing from the action, of being in ANY Amicus Blu Ray collection, 'From Beyond The Grave', to be the selection! 

ABOVE: CAMERON'S COPIES  of the BLU RAY TITLES in SEVERIN'S Amicus Collection Box Set! 

WELL IN A PERFECT WORLD and not the one where 'fan boy hopeful types' post endless lists to nag distributors on their facebook page, about THEIR shopping list and demands and titles, the REAL world of small time distribution is not for the faint-hearted.  The putting together of even the smallest of deals for a 500 units package, without remastering, cleaning and the expensive packaging, can be frought with frustration, crushing compremise and LOTS of spending! 

WHAT WE MAY HAVE HERE, in the SEVERIN package, is not really something for die hard fans, but maybe a great selection of bits and pieces, that many would never have seen or heard before, in the extras and a bit of a hit and miss on the discs holding the three feature films. One can't help wondering, if that at the beginning, the distributors had the idea of making an outstanding documentary about Amicus, where they dredge EVERYWHERE for long forgotten BBC clips from their film programes, find all those filmed interviews and trailers, in excellent quality, get masses of lesser seen rare photographs from BIG fans... and THEN... the feature films, will of course take care of themeselves! Except sadly, THAT didn't happen.

AS MENTIONED, the reviews are plenty and most, not too kind. I am not going to plough my ten-peneth worth into that, for me the documentary element and extras are the BEST of this package. As for the feature films? I am not a quality of picture expert nor do have the ears that would tell a superior sound track from one recorded down a drian-pipe on the hard shoulder of the M4, just outside Hammersmith! BUT some cleaning and basic dusting with a dust pan and brush, wouldn't have gone a miss. We didn't do a PCAS Competition with this box set, when it was released, as I honestly wasn't prepared to fight off comments from the winners who were offering a 'FREE FACE MASSAGE with a size FIVE FIST'. BUT there are those who DO like the package, and are very happy, with it! 

ONE HAPPY CHAP, is CAMERON JONES, who you will probably remember is a collector who shared images of his films and LOVELY Cushing items displayed in a spot light, GLASS CASE! Cameron, wrote this week to tell me he had purchased the SEVERIN Amicus release and was VERY happy with it! He enjoyed all THREE films, and mentions nothing of lack of  audio or visual quality. Asylum has been targeted as the print that most are not happy about, BUT Cameron was watching his Severin disc of the film, in what his FIRST viewing of the film, ever! No problems. If he had to pick favorite, 'And Now, The Screaming Starts' gets his vote! So, it seems even though, for some, Severin's Amicus box set, doesn't meet their expectations, there are those who are quite happy with their purchase. A statement that could be said of many Cushing blu ray and DVD releases today. 

PURCHASING THE AMICUS COLLECTION isn't cheap, but much of the quality of the films sadly, doesn't reflect the shelling out of the customer investment. The EXTRAS, would have made an excellent and cost effective release, without the feature films bolted on, films which MANY already have on good quality DVD's. If you are wondering if there is a market for an Amicus Documentary, one only need take a look at Donald Fearney's Amicus EPIC! Over TWO hours of the complete history... and with visual clips of producer Milton Subotsky to boot! However,  it's YOUR personal choice AND tastes which makes any collection, box set or film entertaining, fun and worth the purchase. And we are ALWAYS keen to hear about ANY you have discovered or own! Keep them coming in!


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