CANNON MONTH: House of Long Shadows (1983)

Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and John Carradine all in the same film? That’s the whole draw of Cannon’s House of Long Shadows, made by Pete Walker in one of the more chaste films of his career. He’d actually retired and was running a chain of theaters when Golan and Globus asked him to make a movie for them.

Taking cues from Seven Keys to Baldpate by Earl Derr Biggers, the Michael Armstrong (ScreamtimeMark of the Devil) script has writer Kenneth Magee (Desi Arnaz, Jr.) making a bet that he can write a great novel. To make it happen, he heads for the solitude of a deserted mansion that isn’t so deserted; after all, Lord Grisbane (Carradine) and his daughter Victoria (Sheila Keith, House of Whipcord) are living there.

By the end of the night, more guests — Grisbane’s sons Lionel (Price) and Sebastian (Cushing), Magee’s publisher’s secretary Mary Norton (Julie Peasgood), a buyer for the mansion by the name of Corrigan (Lee) and a young couple named Diana (Louise English) and Andrew (Richard Hunter) — all arrive.

The Grisbanes are really in the house to release their brother Roderick, who has been walled into his room for forty years after impregnating and murdering a local girl. But when they open his room, he’s already escaped, which gives Lord Grisbane a fatal heart attack. His demise is soon followed by Victoria being strangled, Diana washing her face with acid and Andrew being poisoned. Everyone’s tires are slashed, so they’re all stuck with a killer.

Roderick makes his way through everyone in the cast, leaving only Mary and Magee alive. But  of course, there’s a twist. Actually two of them. And no, I won’t spoil them.

As the only film in which Price, Lee, Cushing and Carradine appear together, this is a fun trifle. It was sold by Cannon as a straight horror movie when they should have leaned into its comedic side. Golan had dreamed of seeing these horror stars team up, so it’s great for us that he could make it happen, even if he had also wanted Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, both of whom were long gone.

You can learn more about House of Long Shadows in Austin Trunick’s The Cannon Film Guide Volume 1: 1980-1984.

You can listen to The Cannon Canon podcast about this movie here.

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