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PeterCushing

If you’re a fan of the iconic British actor Peter Cushing (and let’s face it, what classic horror film fan isn’t?) you’d better put the new book from Peveril Publishing on your wish list immediately! The Peter Cushing Scrapbook by Wayne Kinsey and Tom Johnson is without doubt the most stunning book I’ve ever seen about Cushing or any other horror actor; 328 glossy, colour pages packed with candid pictures, water colour paintings (by Cushing himself), annotated script pages, rare movie posters, costume designs, rare material from two unfilmed Hammer movies to have starred Cushing and even an alternative film script for the Hammer production of Captain Clegg!

The amount of work and immense detail that have gone into this publication is astonishing and fascinating and is the perfect tribute to the “gentleman of horror”, especially as Peter Cushing would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year. Sadly missed, there are some wonderful tributes to this fine actor throughout the book, including a foreward from none other than Star Wars creator George Lucas. The Peter Cushing Scrapbook is not available through Amazon but you can order direct from Peveril Publishing instead – just follow this LINKThis gorgeous book is limited to only 2000 copies so you’d better hurry if you don’t want to miss out.

 

Peter Cushing Scrapbook cover

 

 

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Petercushing tales from the crypt

beast must die poster 4

The Beast Must Die was produced in 1974 by Amicus – rather wonderfully described on the DVD cover as “the studio that dripped blood.”  It is a classic in the “eccentric millionaire invites guests to secluded mansion, horrible deaths ensue” mould.  The eccentric millionaire in this case is Tom Newcliffe (Calvin Lockhart),  who invites people he suspects of being werewolves to his country estate (fully equipped with surveillance equipment) in order to fulfil his hunter’s ambition of bagging the ultimate predator.  Newcliffe gathers his guests and explains to them the reason for his certainty that one of their number is a werewolf – all have been in the vicinity when unsolved animal-like killings have taken place.  There is also a werewolf expert, Dr. Lundgen, on hand to enlighten all as to the nature of the beast (a splendid performance by Peter Cushing’s cheekbones.

Our intrepid does his best to rile his potentially lupine guests – he points out the full moon, serves up almost raw meat, sprays wolf bane pollen liberally about, and instigates the exceptionally awkward parlour game of Pass-The-Silver-Candlestick.  The wolf thus baited, night falls and the hunt begins…

This is truly a cracking movie.  It’s short, punchy, entertaining and does exactly what it sets out to do.  One of its notably quirky features is the gimmick of the “werewolf break”.  At the start, an ominous voice informs the audience that one of the characters is a werewolf, and they must figure out who it is.  Helpfully, we the viewers are provided with a thirty second pause in the action to gather our thoughts and decide on a culprit.  The film stops and a clock appears, ticking away the seconds in a scene so reminiscent of Countdown that one feels a slight but distinct urge to tackle an anagram or do some mental arithmetic.

Special mention must go to Mr. John Hilling, for providing Lockhart with such superb costumes – his wardrobe including an impressive array of jumpsuits, diamante-studded shirts, PVC jackets and the widest flares ever seen on someone not performing in a glam-rock band.

The Beast Must Die has a thoroughly enjoyable effervescence to it – from the funk-sountracked opening chase to the final dramatic reveal of the identity of the werewolf.  It is a film unlikely to ever be regarded as one of the great classics of horror, but by my reckoning is well a worth 80 minutes of anyone’s time.

Review by Oriel

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