Before we started watching it the other night, I wasn't sure how slap-sticky House of the Long Shadows (1983) would get, especially as it had Desi Arnaz Jr. (billed in the credits as Desi Arnaz--not sure why, as his dad was still around). But he did well, playing straight man. Sometimes with comedic-horror films, they force the comedy in there, and, well, it just doesn't work. But this time it flowed.
On Tuesday, September 5th, our band of Scoobies gathered at the Tates Creek Library to watch this tribute film featuring four of the greats of horror -- Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and John Carradine. This was the only time all four would appear in a film together, and it was a treat to see these masters at work. I would actually call it a tongue-in-cheek parody (or self-parody), as the inside jokes would easily fill an old dark house.
Actually, thinking about it, it's more a tip o' th' hat to those Ghosts of Horror Films Past. The movie title gives that away, as it refers to the long shadows these four actors cast.
Okay, enough hero worshiping. On with the show.
Arnaz is Kenneth Magee, a young, successful author, who takes a bet that he can stay 24 hours at -- cue lightning flash -- Baldpate Manor. But not just stay there. Nope. He has to write a Wuthering Heights-style novel while there, and deliver it to his publisher.
Baldpate is supposed to be unoccupied, but when Magee arrives on that dark and stormy night, he finds, their faces appearing one-by-one in candlelight throughout the evening, some rather peculiar inhabitants. And, as the winds howl, and the thunder crashes, we have mystery, murder, and mayhem, old-school style. All while Mr. Magee tries to complete his novel.
One of the many things I love about this movie is that these masters of their craft have an absolute ball playing versions of their past roles. They poke fun at themselves and each other, as when, after Vincent Price's character is introduced, he says, in his most eloquent manner, "Don't interrupt me while I'm soliloquizing."
Devious little references in one form or another pop up throughout. We even have a "Brad and Janet" stopping by, seeking shelter from the storm.
Interesting to note, too, that this was Christopher Lee's and Peter Cushing's 24th and final film together.
Some good laughs, and several good startles, as they did it in the old days. All horror fans must see this one.
A side note: the Scoobies of the Tates Creek Library Classic Horror Film Club (try fitting that on a business card) would like to give a round of applause to Heather Prichard and the Tates Creek Public Library for providing us a place to shriek and howl the first Tuesday of every month. And a big thank you to Heather for our new lemonade dispenser that looks like either a Martian's brain (from Mars Attacks!), or a miniature nuclear cooling tower.
Keep writing, friends.