May 26, 2013

The Peter Cushing Centennial Blogathon : Day Two


Today, we celebrate Peter Cushing’s 100th Anniversary. Here, Cushing poses with fond friends and fellow horror icons Christopher Lee and Vincent Price who, serendipitously, share a birthday tomorrow, May 27. Price would have been 102 and Lee, of course, is still with us and still busy as ever. In fact, Sir Christopher will mark his 91st birthday with the release of Charlemagne: The Omens of Death, a “100% Heavy Metal” rock record! Read about it, and see a video presentation on The Guardian site.

We’ve had terrific posts for our Blogathon on Day One, and there is much more to come today and on through the week, but now, on this momentous day, let’s kick off Peter Cushing’s Centennial Birthday with a most appropriate contribution…

A week ago, I attended the Rondo Awards ceremony at Wonderfest in Louisville where I had the privilege of cheering on as Tim Lucas — of Video Watchdog magazine and accompanying WatchBlog and Pause. Rewind. Obsess. blogs — accepted his nth Rondo as Best Writer of the year.

Here, Tim posts a brilliantly written and heartfelt tribute originally published in Film Comment back when Cushing passed away, in 1994. Read The Arm of God, and you will see why Tim Lucas is the genre’s best reviewer and writer today, as he was, already, 20 years ago.

Thank you so much, Tim, for sharing this with all of us.

Dan Day Jr. of The Hitless Wonder Movie Blog links to previously published posts celebrating his favorite actor. Guess who! There’s an appreciation of The Vampire Lovers, a review of David Miller’s book A Life in Films and Dan’s Top Five Cushing films — and a fine list it is!

At Overlook’s Corridor, Jaime Grijalba examines Cushing’s 1973 Amicus film And Now the Screaming Starts!

Craig Edwards at Let’s Get Out of Here! samples The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973), the final confrontation between Cushing and Christopher Lee as a Van Helsing descendant and Dracula, respectively. Craig, it seems, is also partial to co-star Joanna Lumley. 

Joe Thompson tracks Peter Cushing’s relationships using the Six Degrees theory positing that anyone is six or fewer steps away, by means of introduction, from any other person in the world. Joe has a lot of fun applying the concept and relating Peter Cushing to fellow horror film stars, going all the way back to such names as Ernest Thesiger and Lon Chaney!

Read Six Degrees of Peter Cushing on Joe Thompson’s (takes a deep breath) The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion.

Niels Petersen’s blog, Magia Posthuma is a superlative blog devoted to the study of vampires, and it follows that Niels would examine Cushing’s interpretation of the most famous vampire-hunter of them all. The result is a sharp, intelligent piece entitled Astute, eloquent and immaculate: Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. Must read!

Dick Vincent invites you to park at The Oak Drive-In and enjoy his generously illustrated review of Island of Terror (1967), “probably the best Hammer Film Hammer never made”. The film reunites Cushing with director Terence Fisher, and features one of the most bizarre monsters that ever slinked and slimed across the silver screen.

Recently, the Royal Mail issued a Peter Cushing stamp showing him in Sherlock garb. Joe Riggs offers a fascinating, in-depth and loving look at Peter Cushing’s very thorough take on the Great Detective. And did you know that Cushing also played Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?

Read the aptly titled Peter Cushing as Sherlock Homes: A Force to Be Reckoned With.

Mike Segretto at Psychobabble proposes 20 Things You May Not Have Known About Peter Cushing

Among the nuggets unearthed by Mike — here’s a scoop — the picture here at left is not Cushing but actor Wayne Pygram in Cushing makeup doing stand-in duty for Cushing’s posthumous cameo as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

RayRay at WeirdFlix offers up a double dose of Cushing. First up, From Hamlet to Hammer focuses on Cushing early work, leading up to The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959). 

RayRay’s second contribution for today, Dr. Terror, Tarkin and Beyond deals with the Amicus portmanteau films — picture above is Cushing’s unforgettable Arthur Grimsdyke in Tales from the Crypt (1972), Star Wars (1977) and The House of the Long Shadows (1983), in which Cushing shared billing with Christopher Lee, Vincent Price and John Carradine.

Today’s Cushing illustration by Zombie Rust is a startling, impressionistic rendering of Cushing as Sir John Rowan in the 1968 thriller Corruption.

The Secret Sanctum of Captain Video opens its library archives to offer us Dalek Movies, a rare, low-circulation article from Doctor Who Monthly of January 1984. Also on offer is a long list of links to comic book adaptations of Cushing’s Doctor Who, The Curse of Frankenstein and Cushing’s Van Helsing in Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires. Great stuff!

This slight man, with his sensitive face and old world courtesy, never treats his stardom lightly.

A great find: Steve Thompson of The Booksteve Bijou shares a wonderful article out of the 1973 pressbook for Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell, the last of Hammer’s Frankenstein series. 

My friend David Saunderson, curator of The Spooky Isles, offers 100 Years of Peter Cushing, a brief but very personal appraisal of the actor and the man. 

While you’re at The Spooky Isles, do stop and have a look around. It’s one of the best and most entertaining horror sites on the net.

Barry of Cinema Catharsis gives 1958’s The Revenge of Frankenstein a good, hard look, noting Cushing’s “galvanizing performance” along the way. The article is generously illustrated with photos and a great gaudy poster.

I have long admired Greg Ferrara’s writing and his Cinema Styles blog, and I still check regularly though he doesn’t post there as often as he used to, being busy as one of TCM’s Movie Morlocks, no less. OK, so he’s still blogging about movies, at one of the best movie blogs there is, but I must admit I was pleased to see him rev up Cinema Styles again for his beautiful tribute to Peter Cushing. 

It’s called Peter Cushing: The Man Who Did the Unthinkable. Twice. And it’s perfect. And so is the image provided, reproduced here, the best photograph of Peter Cushing I’ve ever seen. Note, on the wall, behind Cushing’s head, a romantic portrait of his beloved Helen.

Thank you, Greg.

And so, with this, we wrap up Day Two of The Peter Cushing Blogathon, and Peter Cushing’s 100th anniversary. Lots more coming up tomorrow and in the days to come.


Max the drunken severed head said...

A lovely and thoughtful essay. Thanks to Tim and to you, Pierre, for prompting this appearance in the blogathon.

Joe Riggs said...

I could not agree more with the previous comment. A wonderful Blogathon so far, loving each and every contribution!

Greg F. said...

Pierre, thank you for such high praise. And that's my favorite pic of Peter ever too. Taken by David Montgomery in 1977.

Barry P. said...

I'm glad I could contribute to the blogathon, and thrilled to be in such esteemed company. Looking forward to catching up with the multitude of great posts.