THE HORROR JAR: Genre Films Where PETER CUSHING Did NOT Play A Doctor/Scientist/Professor

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Peter Cushing - The Skull

Peter Cushing and the Skull in THE SKULL (1965), a horror film in which Cushing did not play a doctor.

 

Welcome back to THE HORROR JAR, that column where we look at lists of odds and ends pertaining to horror movies.

Up today, my all time favorite horror movie actor, Peter Cushing.

When you think of Peter Cushing, his two most famous roles immediately come to mind, Baron Frankenstein and Dr. Van Helsing, two characters who were also both doctors.  In fact, a lot of Cushing’s roles in horror movies were of medical doctors, professors, or scientists.  So much so, that I thought:  when did he not play a doctor?

Turns out— many times.

Here’s a look at those roles, the times Peter Cushing starred in a horror or science fiction film but did not play a doctor or scientist.

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1959) – Sherlock Holmes.  Technically not a horror film, but that being said, Hammer Films added plenty of horror elements to their rendition of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tale.  Directed by Terence Fisher, with Cushing as Sherlock Holmes and Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville.  Superior little movie, atmospheric and full of thrills, with Cushing’s energetic Holmes leading the way.

Peter Cushing - holmes

Cushing as Holmes in THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1959).

 

NIGHT CREATURES (1962) – Rev. Dr. Blyss – even though the character is identified in the credits as “Dr. Blyss” he’s really the vicar of the small village of Dymchurch— check that, he’s actually the infamous pirate Captain Clegg, hiding out, posing as the vicar, while secretly smuggling rum in this rousing adventure/horror tale by Hammer Films.  Cushing at his energetic best.

Peter Cushing - Night Creatures

Peter Cushing delivers one of his best performances, as Captain Clegg/Dr. Blyss in NIGHT CREATURES (1962).

 

SHE (1965) – Major Holly – lost cities, a supernatural woman, and lots of action in this fantasy adventure by Hammer Films.

THE SKULL (1965) – Christopher Maitland – plays a private collector interested in the occult who purchases the skull of the Marquis de Sade with deadly results.  Christopher Lee co-stars as Cushing’s rival in this fine horror film by Hammer’s rival, Amicus Productions.

TORTURE GARDEN (1967) – Lancelot Canning – another film by Amicus, this one an anthology film featuring five horror stories based on the works of Robert Bloch.  Cushing appears in the fourth segment, “The Man Who Collected Poe,” once more playing a collector of the macabre.  Jack Palance co-stars with Cushing in this segment.

THE BLOOD BEAST TERROR (1968) – Inspector Quennell-  One of Peter Cushing’s worst movies.  In fact, Cushing himself considered it his worst.  Produced by Tigon Films, a company that tried to join Hammer and Amicus as a voice in British horror but ultimately failed.  The monster is a woman who turns into a giant moth that preys on men’s blood, and Cushing plays the police inspector (in a role originally written for Basil Rathbone) who tries to stop her.

SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN (1970) – Major Heinrich Benedek – pretty much just a cameo in this film, famous for being the first time Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Vincent Price all starred together in the same movie.  A bizarre flick, perfect for 1970, but ultimately a disappointment as Cushing and Lee only appear briefly, while Price gets a bit more screen time.

THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970) – General von Spielsdorf – Cushing finally appears in a vampire movie where he’s not a doctor or a professor!  This time he’s a general, but he’s still hunting vampires in this atmospheric and very sensual vampire film from Hammer, starring Ingrid Pitt as the vampire Carmilla.  The first of Hammer’s “Karnstein” vampire trilogy.

THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1971) – Philip Grayson – Another anthology film by Amicus.  Cushing stars in the second segment “Waxworks” and plays a retired stockbroker who runs afoul of a nefarious wax museum.  Director Peter Duffell once said in an interview that Peter Cushing’s entire segment in this film was simply a contrivance to place his head on a platter, which remains one of the more shocking images from the film.

TWINS OF EVIL (1971) – Gustav Weil – Cushing is excellent (as he always is) in this vampire film from Hammer, playing a different kind of vampire hunter.  He leads the Brotherhood, a fanatical group of men seeking out witches in the countryside, a group that is every bit as deadly as the vampires.  As such, when the vampire threat becomes known, and the Brotherhood turn their attention to the undead, it makes for a much more interesting dynamic than the typical vampire vs. heroes.  It’s one of Cushing’s most conflicted roles.  There’s a scene where he laments that he only wanted to do the right thing, that really resonates, because for most of the film, he’s been doing the very worst things.  The third “Karnstein” vampire film.

peter cushing - twins of evil

Peter Cushing as the fanatical Gustav Weil in TWINS OF EVIL (1971).

 

I, MONSTER (1971) – Utterson – plays a lawyer in this version of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tale by Amicus, which changed the names of Jekyll and Hyde to Marlowe and Blake, played here by Christopher Lee.

TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972) – Arthur Edward Grimsdyke – famous Cushing role in yet another anthology film by Amicus.  Cushing appears in the third segment, “Poetic Justice” where he plays an elderly junk dealer who is terrorized into suicide by his neighbors, but a year later, and this is why the role is famous, he returns from the grave.

DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN (1972) – Captain – cameo in this Vincent Price sequel.  Blink and you’ll miss him.

ASYLUM (1972) – Smith – appears in the segment “The Weird Tailor” in this anthology film by Amicus.

FEAR IN THE NIGHT (1972) – The Headmaster – plays a sinister headmaster, in this thriller written and directed by Jimmy Sangster, and also starring Joan Collins and Ralph Bates.

FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE (1974) – The Proprietor – plays the owner of an antique shop, and the man in the wraparound story in this Amicus anthology horror vehicle.

MADHOUSE (1974) – Herbert Flay – plays a screenwriter in this one, and best friend to Vincent Price’s horror actor Paul Toombes.  Toombes is having a rough go of it, as the character he played in the movies- Dr. Death – seems to be committing murders in real life.  A really interesting movie, not a total success, but definitely worth a look, mostly because Price and Cushing share equal and ample screen time in this one.

TENDRE DRACULA – Macgregor – bizarre ill-conceived French horror comedy, notable for featuring Cushing’s one and only performance as a vampire.

LAND OF THE MINOTAUR (1976) – Baron Corofax – plays the villain to Donald Pleasence’s heroic priest in this tale of devil worship and demons.

STAR WARS (1977) – Grand Moff Tarkin – aside from his work in Hammer Films, the role which Cushing is most known for.  As Tarkin, he’s the one character in the STAR WARS universe who bossed Darth Vader around and lived to tell about it.

Peter Cushing - Tarkin

Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin in STAR WARS (1977).

 

SHOCK WAVES (1977) – SS Commander – Nazi zombies attack!    Nuff said.  With John Carradine.

THE UNCANNY (1977) – Wilbur – Cushing plays a writer who learns that cats are a little more “active” than he first imagined in yet another horror anthology film.

MYSTERY ON MONSTER ISLAND (1981) – William T. Kolderup – plays the “richest man in America” in this bizarre horror comedy.

HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS (1983) – Sebastian Grisbane – famous teaming of Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, and John Carradine in the same movie for the first (and only) time ever, this really isn’t a very good movie.  It tries hard, and ultimately isn’t all bad, but could have been so much better.  Price and Lee fare the best.

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE MASKS OF DEATH (1984) – Sherlock Holmes – Holmes comes out of retirement to solve a case.   Again, not horror, per se, but since this film was directed by Roy Ward Baker, written by Anthony Hinds, and of course starred Peter Cushing, there is a definite Hammer Films feel about this movie.  John Mills plays Dr. Watson.

There you have it.  A list of genre films starring Peter Cushing where he did not play a doctor, scientist or professor.  Perhaps next time we’ll have a look at those films where he did don a lab coat or carry a medical bag.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for reading!

—Michael

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE QUOTABLE CUSHING: THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1959)

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Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes

THE QUOTABLE CUSHING

By

Michael Arruda

Welcome to another edition of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING, that column where we look at some of Peter Cushing’s best lines in the movies.

Today we look at Cushing’s first performance as Sherlock Holmes, in the Hammer Film THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1959), screenplay by Peter Bryan, based on the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Since this is a Hammer Film, this version of the famous Sherlock Holmes story emphasizes the supernatural and suspense elements.  It’s actually a great little movie, and I’ve always felt sad that Hammer didn’t make a series of Sherlock Holmes movies starring Peter Cushing. This was the only one they did.  Evidently, it didn’t do all that well at the box office.

Anyway, Peter Cushing makes for a phenomenal Sherlock Holmes, and he gets to deliver a host of memorable lines along the way.

We’ll start off with a Peter Cushing signature line, the type of line he might say in any number of his movies.  Van Helsing, for instance, easily could have uttered this line.

Watson (Andre Morell) has just discovered that Holmes (Peter Cushing) has secretly been investigating the moors outside Baskerville Hall gathering information.  Holmes turns to Watson and utters a grave warning to his friend.

HOLMES:  “There is more evil around us here than I have ever encountered before.”

I’ll say!  The Hound from Hell is patrolling these moors!

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Later in the movie, Holmes believes Sir Henry Baskerville’s (Christopher Lee) life to be in danger if he visits the Stapleton family.  Now, the Stapletons have invited Sir Henry, Holmes, and Watson to dinner, and since Sir Henry has feelings for Stapleton’s daughter, he’s eager to go.  Holmes needs to avoid joining them so he can be free to protect Sir Henry from a distance.

To do this, he’s purposely rude to Sir Henry, mocking him for socializing with poor peasants.

SIR HENRY: I wouldn’t dream of going without you.

HOLMES:  My dear Sir Henry, if you really wanted us to come with you, you’d have told us about the invitation much sooner than this.  You’d better be off.  You mustn’t be late for your peasant friends.

SIR HENRY:  I don’t like that Holmes.

HOLMES:  I don’t like the people you’re mixing with.  I should have thought in your new position you would have cultivated worthier friends.  I hope you enjoy their rabbit pie.

 Ouch!

Cushing has such a way with lines like this.  When Christopher Lee’s Sir Henry storms off in an angry huff, you know exactly how he feels.

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When Holmes is confronting the irritating pompous Dr. Mortimer (Francis De Wolff) he has had all he can take from the annoying man. He sets up the doctor for a dramatic revelation.

 HOLMES:  Strange things are to be found on the moors.  Like this, for instance!”

 Upon which Holmes hurls a dagger onto the table, its sharp point stabbing the wood.

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Early in the movie, as Holmes and Watson agree to honor Dr. Mortimer’s request to travel to Baskerville Hall to protect Sir Henry Baskerville, the wheels of how he will handle this case are already turning inside Holmes’ head.  He sets up the situation so that Watson will go on ahead, leaving him free to conduct undercover work.

When Sir Henry suggests they leave today, Holmes feigns disappointment, but then comes up with a brilliant suggestion.

SIR HENRY: If you attach so much importance to this, why don’t you come down to Dartmoor with me today?  You can pack before the train leaves.

HOLMES (shocked): “You’re going today?  I can’t possibly leave town until the end of the week at least.   (But then, the brilliant suggestion.)  Watson? You’re free at the moment, aren’t you?

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And we wrap things up with a look at Holmes’ dire warning to Sir Henry, about keeping off the moors.

HOLMES: I must insist upon one thing. Under no circumstances are you to go out onto the moors at night.

Wise advice, echoed years later in AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981):  Stay off the moors!

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Hammer Films’ THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1959) is highly recommended.  It features one of Peter Cushing’s best performances, as Sherlock Holmes.

That’s it for now.  See you again next time.

—Michael