One of my gripes over the years has always been how the horror genre has gotten little to no attention from Oscar over the years. Sure, Fredric March won for DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE , but there were plenty of other horror performances who’ve been snubbed. The following ten actors should have (at least in my opinion) received consideration for their dignified work in that most neglected of genres, the horror film:
(and I’ll do this alphabetically in the interest of fairness)
Hammer Horrors were a staple of Boston’s late, lamented “Creature Double Feature” (WLVI-TV 56), so today let’s take a look at a demonic duo of Frankenstein fright films starring the immortal Peter Cushing in his signature role as the villainous Baron Frankenstein.
FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN was the fourth in Hammer’s Frankenstein series, made three years after EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN. The Baron is back (after having apparently been blown to smithereens last time around), this time tampering with immortal souls rather than mere brain transplants. The movie features some ahead-of-its-time gender-bending as well, with the soul of an unjustly executed man transmogrified into the body of his freshly dead (via suicide) girlfriend, now out for vengeance!
Young Hans (Robert Morris), who watched his father guillotined as a child, grows up to work for muddle-headed alcoholic Dr. Hertz (Thorley Walters , in an amusing performance), who revives the cryogenically frozen Baron…
I’m not sure if you can be a true fan of horror (especially British horror) without loving Peter Cushing.
The actor played many roles over the course of his long career. In fact, the first film in which he and Christopher Lee both appeared was not a horror film but instead Laurence Olivier’s 1948 production of Hamlet. (They both also appeared in 1952’s Moulin Rouge.) However, Cushing will probably always be best known for his Hammer roles and, of course, his villainous performance in Star Wars. Peter Cushing was not only the virtuous Prof. Van Helsing but also the far less virtuous Baron Frankenstein.
According to almost every interview that I’ve read, Peter Cushing was a genuinely nice and professional person, one who didn’t personally care for horror films but who never took it personally when he was recognized for appearing in them. Though they regularly played rivals on screen, he was close friends with Christopher Lee. I once read an interview with Lee where he said that, decades later, he still hadn’t recovered from Cushing’s death in 1994.
Below, you’ll find a documentary from 1989. It was called Peter Cushing — A One-Way Ticket To Hollywood. It’s basically just Peter Cushing talking about his life and career for 49 minutes but it’s a charming little documentary. Peter Cushing comes across as being very nice and very British. He discusses not only his horror films but also his work in Star Wars and his performance as Winston Smith in a 1954 production of 1984.
It’s a nice documentary and I offer it up on Halloween as a tribute to one of horror’s gentlemen.
Today’s horror scene that I love comes from the 1957 classic, The Curse of Frankenstein!
In this scene, the Monster (Christopher Lee) reveals himself and then promptly attack his maker (Peter Cushing). My favorite thing about this scene is that zoom shot of the Monster’s face after the bandages have been removed. The look he’s giving Frankenstein leaves no doubt about how the Monster feels about being reanimated.
Knowing that Lee and Cushing were close friend in real life makes this scene all that more enjoyable.
I’ve discussed the Max Roseberg/Milton Subotsky Amicus horror anthologies before on this blog. All are good, if uneven, little entries in the genre, and FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE is no exception. This was the last of the Amicus tales of terror, a quartet of creepiness based on the work of British horror writer R. Chetwynd-Hayes. I’ll admit I’m not familiar with Mr. Cheywynd-Hayes’s work, so I couldn’t tell you if the movie’s faithful to it or not. I can tell you FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE is about 50/50 in the chills department.
An all-star British cast gives it a game try, though. The segments are linked by horror icon Peter Cushing , looking rather gaunter than usual as the proprietor of Temptations Ltd., an antique shop which serves to set the stories in motion. Unfortunately, the part is a waste of Cushing’s talent; I could see him in any of…