(UK - 1983; US release 1984)
Directed by Pete Walker. Written by Michael Armstrong. Cast: Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Desi Arnaz Jr, John Carradine, Sheila Keith, Richard Todd, Julie Peasgood, Louise English, Richard Hunter, Norman Rossington. (PG, 102 mins)
When it came to ninjas, Namsploitation, and breakdancing, Menaham Golan had his fingers on the pulse of what audiences wanted to see. But just as often, he'd keep Cannon cranking out increasingly geriatric Charles Bronson actioners directed by an aging J. Lee Thompson, cheapjack franchise offerings like the one-and-done MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (1987) and the ill-advised SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE (1987), and misguided attempts at arthouse legitimacy that played to smaller and smaller audiences. When Golan decided to make an all-star horror movie with the screen's titans of terror in 1983, he didn't come up with the kind of horror movie that 1983 audiences had in mind. HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS was born when screenwriter Michael Armstrong (director of the 1970 barf-bag classic MARK OF THE DEVIL) and cult British horror filmmaker Pete Walker (DIE SCREAMING MARIANNE, FRIGHTMARE, HOUSE OF WHIPCORD, THE CONFESSIONAL) came to Cannon with an idea for a gory horror movie called DELIVER US FROM EVIL. Golan rejected the idea and told them he wanted a vintage "old dark house" story with all the classic horror stars, so Armstrong and Walker concocted a script inspired by the 1932 James Whale classic THE OLD DARK HOUSE and based largely on the oft-filmed 1913 George M. Cohan play Seven Keys to Baldpate, itself based on a novel by Charlie Chan author Earl Derr Biggers. According to legend, Golan demanded Walker and Armstrong cast Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in this all-star horror summit, and was not deterred by minor inconveniences like Karloff's death in 1969 and Lugosi's a decade before that in 1956.
|HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS publicity shot|
family reunion of the Grisbanes: patriarch Lord Grisbane (Carradine), eldest son Lionel (Price), younger son Sebastian (Cushing) and daughter Victoria (Walker regular Sheila Keith). Baldpate Manor was home to the Grisbanes until a terrible scandal brought shame upon them in 1935: the youngest of the Grisbane sons, black sheep Roderick, raped and killed a 14-year-old village girl. The horrible crime was covered up by Grisbane and his other sons, who dispensed their own family justice by sentencing Roderick to live in chains in a hidden, locked room on one of the upper floors of the manor. For over 40 years, Roderick has resided in the dilapidated manor alone, surviving on food brought by Victoria or snacking on whatever rats he encounters, and tonight is the night the Grisbanes confront him and come to terms with their ugly past. Also complicating matters is the arrival of Corrigan (Lee), a sneering businessman who plans to buy Baldpate Manor to demolish it and develop the surrounding area. It doesn't take long before they're all being picked off one by one by an unseen Roderick, who's gotten out of his room, cut the phone line and slashed the tires on everyone's cars, and won't stop until he gets his revenge.