• House of the Long Shadows



    Released By: Kino Lorber
    Released On: September 15, 2015
    Director: Pete Walker
    Cast: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, Desi Arnaz Jr., John Carradine
    Year: 1983
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    The Movie:

    Director Pete Walker (Frightmare, House of Whipcord) may have been ready to retire, but the fates had other plans for him, in the form of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, the geniuses responsible for the majority of The Cannon Group's trashy 1980's output. Wanting to produce a "classic horror", Walker was originally approached to put out a film with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi; but finding those actors to be quite dead, instead had a film fashioned for such horror legends as Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, John Carradine, and....Desi Arnaz, Jr? And thus, 1983's House of the Long Shadows, based loosely on the 1913 novel, Seven Keys to Baldpate, was born.

    While promoting his new book in the UK, talk between author Kenneth Magee (Arnaz) his publisher, Sam Allyson (Richard Todd) turns to the topic of classic English literature. When Sam takes exception to the young author's disdain for such brooding and passionate classics as "Wuthering Heights", claiming that he could write such a novel with ease, a wager is made; that Magee can churn out a work of equal importance in a mere 24 hours. With 20,000 dollars at stake, Magee makes his only demand in the form of a place of solitude to devote his full concentration to writing. Sam comes through with the perfect location; Baldpate Manor, a long-empty estate in the Welsh countryside.

    After some strange events at the train station, Magee arrives at Baldpate and sets about getting to work. Unfortunately for him, the house is not quite deserted, though the two very odd caretakers don't seem like they'll be too much of a distraction. Peace and quiet is not in the cards, however, and an attractive blonde soon shows up, with concerns about the creepy custodians...and international terrorism? As if that wasn't enough to keep poor Magee from his work, Baldpate's long-absent former residents, Sebastian (Peter Cushing) and Lionel (Vincent Price) arrive for a family reunion with their brother Roderick...who has apparently been locked in his bedroom at Baldpate for the last forty years as punishment for a gruesome crime. A prospective buyer of the property named Corrigan (Christopher Lee) also shows up, but his interest in the property may wane when Roderick is discovered to not be imprisoned in his room after all, and bodies start hitting the floor.

    Pete Walker makes it quite clear in the supplements on the disc that Long Shadows was intended as tongue-in-cheek tribute to the horror films of yesteryear, and if you don't go in with that expectation, you may find the film to be a disappointment. There are a whole lot of stretches of reality here, and taken as a serious film, House of the Long Shadows fails. Mary's role as heroine and love interest in the movie finds her limited to reacting to sights and sounds that the viewer doesn't witness, and there's really not too much horror business going on. Packing in a whole load of supporting characters and some bizarre twists adds to the head-scratching at time, and jumbles up the pacing.

    THAT being said, what the film delivers on, it delivers in spades, and that's impressive performances from the lead actors; Price shines here as only Price can, Sheila Keith and John Carridine are also impressive, and Christopher Lee manages to exude all of the menace that he summoned up as Count Dracula, over two decades prior. Arnaz is also great here, pulling off the cocky author persona with relative ease, and Julie Peasgood is more than competent as his sidekick. Fans of Peter Cushing will probably be a little disappointed that he's under-used, but he's wonderful when he is. House of the Long Shadows also sports some impressive-looking shots, beautifully framed and taking full advantage of the location. Despite a somewhat whacky premise, the film can be recommended solely for the cinematography and the last hurrah of some of the greatest acting talent to grace celluloid.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    House of the Long Shadows comes to Kino Lorber blu-ray in a 1.85:1 transfer that looks pretty decent. Blacks are not too great, here, to tell the truth, and the picture tends to get a bit washy during the night scenes. The more colourful scenes also look faded, and don't really pop, but the detail and clarity is decent enough that the picture is enjoyable.

    The DTS HDMA 2.0 audio track is also adequate, with dialogue remaining clear and consistent. Soundtrack is balanced nicely outside of that, and there aren't really any audio issues to take away from your listening enjoyment.

    An Interview With Director Pete Walker (14:48) is the first supplement, and it's awesome. Discussing everything from his history as a Director, being brought out of retirement, working with Golan and Globus, and fond recollections of the cast, Walker packs a whole lot of life experience into a short time.

    If that wasn't enough Pete Walker for you, a Director's Commentary is included, where he elaborates more on the making of the film, discussing casting, the script, and just about everything else, and moderator/author Derek Pykett does a great job of keeping the conversation flowing.

    A second commentary with film historian David Del Valle and Elijah Drenner is also included, and is also required listening as it takes a more outsider point of view.

    Three Trailers are also included, House of the Long Shadows, Madhouse, and The Oblong Box.

    The Final Word:

    Casual fans of horror will more than likely not appreciate House of the Long Shadows, but genre fans, especially those who hold Hammer flicks near and dear to their hearts will need to see it. The KL blu-ray provides a pretty handy upgrade to previous editions, and some nice extras make it even more attractive.



    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!