Monday, June 19, 2006

Movies That Fell Through the Cracks # 11

This wasn't originally intended to be a movie that fell through the cracks but a check of the 'Net found it described as "obscure," "little-seen," "unknown" and "ready to be rediscovered." Thus, it seems, 1982's HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS has more or less fallen through the cracks. The actual reason I was planning to write about it is that it ties in to this morning's post in that it stars Lucie's brother, Desi Arnaz, Jr. Desi's performance got very mixed reviews but I found him entertaining. The film is the umpteenth reworking of Earl Derr Biggers' SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE in which an author makes a bet with his publisher that he can write a book in 24 hours. The publisher gives him the one and only key to his closed up mountain home. The author arrives and finds his attempts at working constantly interrupted by folks with keys and stories that get more and more complicated...and potentially deadly. In my opinion, Desi carries the lighthearted plot just fine, abetted by the true scene-stealing stars of the film-Vincent Price, John Carradine, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee all appearing for the first and only time in the same movie. Someone on IMDB says the early VHS release was reedited to emphasize the horror aspects at the expense of the comedy. If that's the case, then the theatrical release I saw must have been edited for just the opposite reason as, horror film buff that I was, I found it hilarious. Price and Lee looked great while Carradine and particularly Cushing seemed sadly aged but still enthusiastic. In a way this was a last gasp for the great horror stars whose mantle had been passed to faceless killers like Michael Myers and Jason and they all looked as if they were enjoying every scenery chewing moment of it. I'll bet Desi, having grown up in Hollywood, was having a great time being there with them as well.

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