61 Days of Halloween: House of Long Shadows

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment, I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

House of Long Shadows

The House of Long Shadows does something that’s incredibly hard to do for a film in any genre, much less a horror film, and that is to feature four very prominent, iconic actors and give them each a substantial and worthy part to play. In a way, this is the antithesis of All-Star Cast Syndrome, as I like to call it. When you have a cast of thousands crammed with actors you like it’s very hard for the film to strike a necessary balance for it and one that pleases you, the fan, as well.

In this film you see the names of Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and John Carradine and you think “Wow, that’s amazing!” I know I did, and then dread set in because in combinations these actors worked together many times, some more successful than others. Here they are all together and I got worried that one appearance would be cursory or insignificant, but none of it was.

Now, none of these legendary gentleman is the lead. That honor goes to Des Arnaz, Jr. whose character is designed to be a bit of a twerp and a spectator but he gives a bit too much of the former. Regardless, it works wonderfully each of the characters adds weight and intrigue to the film and they are all on point.

As for the narrative, there are many twists in the tale each seemingly more surprising than the last that totally make the slow burn of the film payoff. I will give you no details except to tall you that the set up is that a cocky young writer makes a substantial bet with his publisher that he can turn out an old style Gothic novel in 24 hours given the right atmosphere and solitude. He gets his locale and what unfolds is wild in its implications and it a really enjoyable film that is highly recommended.

If you’ve seen and enjoy this film, Warner Archive has just released a three-film Seven Keys to Baldpate set, which are films that pre-date this one based upon the same novel.