Retro Review: ‘House of Long Shadows’

A certain skill displayed by the legendary actors associated with classic horror is their ability to elevate any production just by virtue of their being present. Over the decades, filmmakers have taken full advantage of this by often teaming them together for movies. One such film is a 1983 British film which is a surprising rarity to find House of Long Shadows which proudly boasts the starpower of Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and John Carradine.

After making a $20,000 bet, arrogant author Kenneth Magee heads to an old and cavernous mansion in rural Wales to write a manuscript over the course of a dark and stormy night. Instead of the dark, creepy and empty manor he was promised he finds a dark and creepy mansion with the mysterious members of the Grisbane family. Kenneth plays the observer as they go through a night of mystery and murder.

There is no doubt that the main selling point of House of Long Shadows is the scary legendary foursome of Price, Lee, Cushing and Carradine. These elder statesmen of horror have been terrifying audiences since the days of the Universal Monsters and are still held as legends of the genre to this day. Director Peter Walker merely placed them in a creepy gothic mansion on a dark and stormy night and they knew what to do. It is a good thing the four stars are old pro’s because beyond them there is not much to this movie. If you told me the plot was made up as they went along I would 100% believe you as this flick is all over the place. There are so many twists and turns it takes things into nonsensical territory with scares that are few and far between, all leading up to a terrible ending. Aside from the four stars playing the Grisbanes the other characters are bland placeholders played by poor “actors”.

For decades House of Long Shadows has been a movie difficult to come by for horror fans. After an initial VHS release rights issues prevented this movie from being distributed for home viewing until Kino Lorber gave it a Blu Ray release a few years ago. No doubt there will be plenty of viewers letdown when they finally watch it. Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and John Carradine are of course great but aside from them the movie is weak on all fronts.