31 Days of Halloween – Day 9 – House of the Cliches

shadows1Christopher Lee hated this movie and wrote in his autobiography, “The direction [of HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS] was a blank……we agreed with the critics who shredded the film.”

This movie stars the best horror actors ever and it’s still the worst crap I’ve ever seen.  The biggest problem with this movie isn’t the horror masters, but some guy who’s not even on the poster, Desi Arnaz Jr.  Arnaz plays this snarky, annoying writer who can’t get over himself.  Richard Todd decides to take a bet that Arnaz can’t crank out a novel in 24 hours.

At this point in the movie, there is a bunch of talking as they set up the rest of the movie.  The direction can’t be any worse.  It is choppy, even in a scene with one guy driving a car.  Arnaz speeds along the highway in the rain as some overdramatic music echoes in the background.  Carradine has set up a little hideaway for Arnaz to use while he writes.  For some reason.  

shadows3Arnaz gets lost and has to ask for directions.  The movie is filled with this and other cliches, one after the other.  The other problem is casting a comedian like Arnaz to lead your movie, which messes up the tone, so it alternates between a thriller, a spoof and a mystery.  This guy’s only claim to fame was starring as “Automan” in a short-lived 13-episode television series.

Vincent Price, John Carradine, Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing are together in this film for the last time.  The four legends don’t have enough screentime and their contributions aren’t anything more than glorified cameos.  It’s such a shame.  At about twenty minutes in, I was confused.  Where the hell was Christopher Lee? Where was Peter Cushing?  I need some overdramatic dialogue.  Arnaz finds the house and a continuous stream of stupid characters keep interrupting him while he’s trying to write.

Lady: But you are in terrible danger!  You could lose your life.

Arnaz: Or worse.

Finally, Peter Cushing darts into the light after about thirty minutes.  He quickly walks away and disappears.  I’m not sure why.  Arnaz and his stupid female co-star go looking for him.  Some fake lightning echoes in the background.  I swear, my high school drama club had better music and sound effects.  Afterward, Arnaz finds Vincent Price wandering around outside.  Vincent Price announces his own entrance and walks into the house.  He tries to top Peter Cushing’s overdramatic dramatics.

Vincent Price: I think a little hospitality might be in order.

Old Maid: I can offer you some…hot punch.

Vincent Price: Ah yes, some…hot punch. <chuckles> Punch.

shadows2After Arnaz runs into all the masters of horror, they trade stupid speeches.  The dialogue is laced with innuendo and in-jokes so stupid they are dramatized with the sound of lightning.  This production only needed a laugh-track to be complete.  Arnaz finds out that everyone is related, and then they sit around singing at the out-of-tune piano.  Guess what? The music is overdramatic and in Hungarian. Are you surprised?  To top it all off, Christopher Lee looks at his watch.  Funny stuff.

shadows4If it wasn’t bad at this point, the dialogue gets worse.  They sit around and talk about their brother locked upstairs in his room.  Peter Cushing gets drunk.  He falls on the floor.  He tries to talk to Christopher Lee, but can’t form a coherent sentence.  He turns every “R” into the letter “W” as he tries to be a comedian too.  They talk about their brother upstairs, who they locked up 40 years ago.  Hopefully, he had a spare lunch.  Hilarious.

Arnaz:  Open the door.

Cushing: We must set him fwee! Set him fwee!  

After Vincent Price smiles and winks at the camera, the movie rolls through two different endings, one twist trying to top the next.  The whole thing is just overdone.  Christopher Lee is about the best thing in the movie and that’s only because he’s a good actor.  The script is still awful and doesn’t do anyone any favors.  The tongue-in-cheek aspect of the movie works in some parts, but mostly falls flat.  Peter Cushing and Vincent Price seem to be having fun being in such as stinker, and I at least found enjoyment in that.  Everything else was tiresome.  Especially the fake lightning.




31. Poltergeist (1982) vs Poltergeist (2015)
30. Blair Witch Project (1999)
29. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
28. The Wicker Man (1973) and The Wicker Man Remake
27. Tales from the Darkside, the Movie (1990)
26. Saw (2004)
25. The Prophecy (1995)
24. The Hills have Eyes (1977)
23. House of the Long Shadows (1983)
22. Creepshow (1982)
21. Phantasm (1979)
20. The Omen (1976) vs Damien: The Omen II
19. We Are Still Here (2015)
18. The Guest (2010)
17. Return of the Living Dead (1985)
15. The House that Dripped Blood (1971)
14. Army of Darkness (1992)
13. In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
12. Friday the 13th Part III
11. Theater of Blood (1973)
10. House of Wax (1953) vs House of Wax (2005)
9. Hellraiser Inferno (2000)
8. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
7. The Changeling (1980)
6. The Eye (2002)
5. The Hitcher (1986)
4. Paranormal Activity (2007)
3. 28 Days Later (2003)
2. Suspiria (1977)
1. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – This review will be published October 31st!