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feast of the long shadows

As you’ve probably already seen if you follow me on any kind of social media, they’re hosting a Peter Cushing Centennial Blogathon over at the great Frankenstein ‘blog Frankensteinia. A few years ago I participated in their Boris Karloff Blogathon and head a really good time. Those entries, unfortunately, are lost to the whims of a website hiccup, but they’re still available on my LiveJournal under the Boris Karloff Blogathon tag. Since Peter Cushing is one of two actors (the other being Vincent Price) who regularly compete for my affections as my favorite actor of all time, it wouldn’t have seemed right not to participate in this year’s Peter Cushing Blogathon.

As fate would have it, the month of May has been an extraordinarily busy one for me, and that means that I’ll probably be posting to the blogathon less than I would like, but I do have at least one big post in the works. In the mean time you can click over to Frankensteinia and check out all the other great posts on the blogathon, and in order to tide you over I’ve composed a quick roundup of links to other places that I can remember talking about Peter Cushing movies in the not-too-distant past, specifically as culled from my regular vintage horror column at Innsmouth Free Press, the Vault of Secrets:

Island of Terror (1966)
Night Creatures (1962)
The Gorgon (1964)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)

Conspicuously absent from that list are any of the Hammer Frankenstein movies, which star Peter Cushing in my favorite of all his roles, that of Baron Frankenstein himself. That’s okay, though, because in honor of the Peter Cushing Centennial Blogathon and Frankensteinia, I plan to revisit (in whatever brevity is required) all six of the Peter Cushing-starring Hammer Frankenstein films, in order, and render unto you a verdict as to, not only which one is my favorite, but which one has my favorite portrayal of the Baron, my favorite version of the creature, my favorite lab, and my favorite assistant, among anything else I may think of. So expect that sometime in the next few days, before the culmination of the blogathon.

And don’t forget that the Feast of the Long Shadows is coming up tomorrow night, which is the perfect time to celebrate Peter Cushing’s Centennial!

Everyone reading this already knows that Halloween is my favorite holiday, right? And that the worst day of the year, at least in some respects, is November 1st, because it means the longest possible time until more Halloween. Well, it’s not quite two Halloweens in a year, but there’s apparently an Internet initiative underway to turn May 26-27 (or more specifically, the night in-between the two) into the Feast of the Long Shadows.

The name comes from a 1983 movie called House of the Long Shadows. By all accounts it isn’t very good (though I’ll admit that I’ve yet to see it, myself), but it has the distinction of starring Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, and Christopher Lee. Not just some of the greatest actors ever to be associated chiefly with the Gothic and horror genre, but also some of the genre’s greatest statesmen. We may never see their like again. As it so happens, those three dignitaries are also the reason for the celebration, or at least the reason for the choosing of the date. Vincent Price and Christopher Lee were born on May 27th, while Peter Cushing was born on the 26th. Certainly, it seems like a confluence worth noting.

The initiative, started by Italian author and critic Franco Pezzini and director Max Ferro, aims to make the Feast “a celebration of the creative strength and cultural import of the arts of imagination, of horror and wonder.” That’s definitely an idea that I can get behind. And having another celebration of the mysterious, the monstrous, and the macabre situated roughly opposite All Hallow’s Eve will make the wait for the next Halloween a little more bearable. So from now on, I’ll be celebrating the Feast of the Long Shadows on the evening of May 26th, probably with some movies featuring one or more of those esteemed personages mentioned above. I encourage everyone else to do the same, and spread the word. It’s a holiday worth having, and if enough people get behind it we can make it happen.

(Thanks to excellent author and editor T.E. Grau for introducing me to the notion.)