BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

House of Long Shadows (1983) - Blu-ray Review

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House of Long Shadows - Blu-ray Review

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2 beersWhile most of sexploitation director Pete Walker’s films (Die Screaming, Marianne, The Flesh and Blood Show, House of Whipcord) have been greeted with disgust and condemnation, House of Long Shadows is his – as far as the horror genre goes – his most noteworthy. Check it out. For the first time in cinematic history, hour icons of the horror genre came together to recall the past glories of Hammer Horror. Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and John Carradine share the screen in 1983’s House of Long Shadows. If only it were a better film…

The movie is based on the 1913 novel Seven Keys to Baldpate by Earl Derr Biggers and is contemporized by its screenwriter (and filmmaker) Michael Armstrong to concern itself with a somewhat successful American novelist, Kenneth Magee (Desi Arnaz, Jr.) who accepts a $20,000 bet to write a gothic romance novel in 24 hours from his publisher. All he needs, he claims, is a remote location – full of silence and long shadows – to write it in. His publisher knows just the spot: an isolated Welsh manor in its final throes of ownership.

It was a dark and stormy night…and, yes, it is often as predictable – by design, it seems – as that.

After a rocky greeting from the manor’s resident caretaker Lord Grisbane (Carradine) and his daughter (Sheila Keith), Magee discovers the house is not so vacant. Enter Magee’s publisher’s secretary, Mary (Julie Peasgood), who warns him that he is in a whole lotta trouble if he continues to stay. Of course, Magee doesn’t listen. Lord Grisbane's sons Lionel (Price) and Sebastian (Cushing) and Corrigan (Lee), a potential buyer of the property, soon arrive and some seriously twisted secrets about the Grisbane family and their inhumane treatment of a family member are revealed. Does Magee have the resolve to stick out the murderous mayhem and write? Or is he willing to admit his own fright as the mystery deepens and the body count rises?

Operating much like an episode of Scooby Doo, Where are you?, the whodunit operations of House of Long Shadows barely musters the necessary suspense to make its haunted house methods work. It does nothing new. It doesn’t have to. But it does have to be engaging. While shot entirely on location inside a creepy old house in England, the only real long shadows it manages to cast are from Price and Lee’s stature. And, seriously, do they really need to do much to master the art of the creepy? Just stand and pose menacingly. Thankfully, their presence – including Cushing - elevates the narrative.

Walker, who was already out of the filmmaking business due to his new business venture with a chain of independent theaters, was maybe a bit too rusty for the project. Maybe. There are some nice moments from his repertoire included here. There are also some good throwback moments of the creepy and the crawlies sprinkled in – including Cushing’s lisp – from the cast. However, there are far too many missed opportunities as its twist endings inside its gothic horror. All of this is rather surprising considering that, as its commentary suggests, House of Long Shadows successfully does what American International Pictures could not and assemble all these icons for one film.

I – much like many my age – originally saw Walker’s film in one of its many showings on HBO. The appeal, of course, was the cast. I was raised in a house that LOVED Vincent Price so I had to watch, having missed its very brief theatrical run. The appeal today, now available on blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics, is still the cast. The shoot must have been one hell of a long party for these veterans of the horror genre. Unfortunately, very little of that fun makes it to the screen.  

House of Long Shadows is exactly that.

House of Long Shadows - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated
Runtime:
100 mins
Director
: Pete Walker
Cast:
Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing
Genre
: Comedy | Horror
Tagline:
Room for every nightmare... A nightmare in every room.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Don't interrupt me while I'm soliloquizing."
Distributor:
Cannon Film Distributors
Official Site:
Release Date:
April, 1984
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 15, 2015
Synopsis: An American writer goes to a remote Welsh manor on a $20,000 bet: can he write a classic novel like "Wuthering Heights" in twenty-four hours? Upon his arrival, however, the writer discovers that the manor, thought empty, actually has several, rather odd, inhabitants.

House of Long Shadows - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - September 15, 2015
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents House of Long Shadows on blu-ray with a visual upgrade worthy of its price tag. Even if the film does little with its assemblage of talents, there’s no denying that it is worth owning. The 1080p transfer is an upgrade from previous DVD versions. Colors are well-saturated. Black levels are strong. The contrast is high. The release is offered with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There are two commentaries attached to this release. The first one was recorded in 2012 and features Walker rehashing his memories of the making the film in London. The second, featuring Film Historian David Del Valle, is more interesting and makes the case that the movie is underappreciated and is due for a reevaluation.

Special Features:

Featuring an interview with Pete Walker, the supplemental items make for an interesting release. Walker discusses the making of the throwback horror flick and its tribute status, the actors, the script, the movie’s locations and Cannon Films. Also included is the original trailer (narrated by Price himself), as well as trailers for The Oblong Box and Madhouse.

  • Pete Walker’s House of Horror (15 min)
  • Trailer Gallery

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