Welcome one and all- Please leave sanity at the door

A Teenage boy with a passion for all things nerdy! Expect a lot of Doctor Who, Cult/Horror Movies, Literature and Novels, History, Comic Books and random thoughts. Posts published weekly on a Friday evening. DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the items reviewed on this site and i also do not own of the pictures (unless stated so). If you own one of the photos and wish for it to be removed contact me at this adress: Super.pig@live.co.uk. However all of the written work is my own and is protected under copyright law.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Peter Cushing: A Personal Tribute

No, not a review this week and not my usual post on Friday evening! This is not a new schedule; next week’s post will be a review and will be posted on Friday, from the title you can probably tell why I delayed this week. As I am sure many of you are aware today see’s what would have been the 100th Birthday of the Gentleman of Horror, Peter Cushing. I’ve made my love for this particular actor obvious in the past and I could not let such an event pass by without doing something in honour of this great and wonderful actor. I considered doing a review but decided that wasn’t special enough, besides choosing one film to represent a 100 years was simply too difficult. I thought about doing a biography type tribute but it’s been done in the past and I didn’t think that I could add anything new to the pot; also it just didn’t seem personal enough. I wanted to show something to express my love for the gentleman of horror. To show his impact on my life and how he became one of my all time idols. So instead I settled for this, a personal tribute to my favourite actor.

I was first introduced to Peter Cushing at the age of five years old when I caught the last five minutes of Dr Who and The Daleks (1965). Admittedly the main attraction for me was the same as any five year old, the Daleks. However there was something about Cushing’s interpretation of the character that fascinated me, I’d never seen anything like it. He was silly, a bit of a scatter-brain but...there was something about him. Despite his silly jokey moments this Doctor had a magical quality to him, you sensed that whilst he sometimes appeared senile he really had everything worked out in a clever plan. I became even more fascinated with this Doctor when about a month later I saw Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD (1966). I personally find this to be not only the better of the two movies but also Cushing’s best performance out of the two, him really getting a grip on how to play the character here. His speech to the Daleks where he discusses their weakness to the magnetic core of the earth is a great moment and had me captivated. I remember as a child making a toy Tardis with the interior based on Cushing’s over the TV Doctor’s.

I next came into contact with Mr Cushing several years later when I was thirteen with both the Brides of Dracula (1960) and Revenge of Frankenstein (1958). These are two of my favourite hammer films and equally I would say two of my favourite of his performances in perhaps his most defining roles! Cushing was able to bring new and unique interpretations to the characters of Doctor Van Helsing and Baron Frankenstein, roles that had already been interpreted several times on screen. With Van Helsing instead of a bumbling elderly scientist who relied purely on his brains to fight Vampires he presented us with a swashbuckling type hero who relied not only on his mental capability but his physical one as well. What I love about Cushing in Brides of Dracula is one particular scene. Having been bitten by that films villain Baron Meister he finds he has no choice but to attempt to burn the poison out of his system using a cattle brand. Helsing heats the brand up and then raises it tentatively to his neck. It’s a great moment and the sheer amount fear Cushing manages to portray on his face is incredible.

I have to devote a paragraph to what I must say is my personal favourite of all of Cushing’s roles. I am of course speaking about Baron Frankenstein. What Cushing did with the character of Frankenstein, in my opinion, was to outshine Colin Clive’s wonderful performance and take the audience’s attention away from the monster and slowly on the titular mad-scientist. However when referring to Cushing’s interpretation I detest using that term, this Baron wasn’t mad he was obsessed, driven to complete his work. What I love about his portrayal is that although the Hammer Frankenstein series do not admittedly have the best continuity in the world, throughout them we see how the character of the Baron slowly changes until he has driven himself to almost insanity at the climax of Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974). Anyone who is interested in gothic horror or simply seeing a great performance from a great actor should try and pick one of these up.
At this point I was fully obsessed. For Christmas one year, I was fortunate to receive a copy of both his autobiographies, a memoir and past forgetting. They truly are wonderful books and I fell in love with the story of the Gentleman of Horrors life, I recommend them to any fans or anyone who is interested in hearing more about him (there recent reprinting makes them much more accessible as well!). There’s a touching section where Cushing discusses the death of his wife and its effect on him, it really is moving and his honesty is inspiring.

One final note and it’s something that I really think is a tribute to the acting ability of the great man. I was born two months after his death and I own a great deal many of his films. I always think it demonstrates just how good an actor is when years after their death a young person can look back on their films and still see what great performances were given. I hope that on his centenary many other people will discover one of the greatest horror actors, if not one of the greatest British actors, of all time and continue to be thrilled and enthralled by his performances.

No comments:

Post a Comment