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House of the Long Shadows Review

Review: House of the Long Shadows / Cert: 15 / Director: Peter Walker / Screenplay: Michael Armstrong / Starring: Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, John Carradine, Desi Arnaz Jnr / Release Date: Out Now

House of the Long Shadows is one of those films you may not have heard about, seeing that it’s neither a Hammer, Amicus or American International production, but nonetheless, it’s a rich and unique slice of horror history, one that had never happened before and was destined never to happen again.

This 1983 Cannon Group film was the first and only time that horror titans Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and John Carradine would all appear in the same film. That fact alone makes this release by Final Cut Entertainment a worthwhile purchase. Add to this the fact that there’s an insightful retrospective documentary House of the Long Shadows Revisited included as an extra and this disc becomes irresistible.

Although not top billed, the real star of the show is Desi Arnaz Jnr, who would star in the short lived super hero series Automan in the same year. Arnaz’s character, novelist Kenneth Magee wagers $20,000 with his publisher that he can write a gothic novel in 24 hours. His publisher arranges for him to spend the time in seclusion in Baldpate Manor in the wilds of Wales and so the fun begins.

On arrival, he finds he’s not as secluded as he thought. Already in residence are an ancient housekeeper played by John Carradine and his elderly daughter Victoria (Keith).Very soon, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price and Christopher Lee arrive, and the plot thickens on the typically stormy night with a murderous tale of dark family secrets, and a family member kept prisoner for over forty years - now loose and seeking blood splattered retribution.

The film is broadly similar in tone and plot to The Old Dark House (Universal 1932) also curiously set in Wales and is based on a 1913 novel, Seven Keys to Baldpate, and its subsequent stage adaptation. If the film has a fault, it’s that certain scenes are overly theatrical and stagy, but then again, it’s a purposely stereotypical "old dark manor" film with hidden panels and locked rooms. Horror in the grand old style with its tongue firmly in its cheek.

Even if the twist ending isn’t exactly a surprise, there’s still a lot of fun to be had watching the elder statesmen of horror plying their trade one last time.

Special Features: None

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