Wednesday, August 11, 2010
RIP, Peter Cushing (1913-1994)
Sixteen years ago today, the cinematic world lost one of its most distinguished actors when Peter Cushing lost his battle with prostate cancer. Not only was he the most recognizable face in many Hammer horror productions, he also played the great Doctor in two Doctor Who films, as well as making a memorable appearance in Star Wars (1977) as Grand Moff Tarkin and in Shock Waves as an aging Nazi commander.
One of Cushing's roles that has resonated with audiences over the years isn't a role in the horror genre, but rather a mystery, that of Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles. However, there are many ties to horror within the film: it was produced by Hammer, co-starred Christopher Lee, and Baskerville Hall is widely recognizable as Dracula's castle from the 1958 Hammer version of Dracula (a.k.a. Horror of Dracula). Here below is the trailer for that film, also starring Lee as the titular vampire and Cushing in one of his most famous and beloved roles as Van Helsing.
Personally, I will be honoring Cushing today by watching a film that doesn't seem to have as many fans as many of the other Hammer Dracula pictures, Dracula A.D. 1972, which features Cushing as an aging descendant of Van Helsing. It isn't the greatest Drac film, but it's entertaining and definitely a product of its time, and as always Cushing absolutely lights up the screen any time he is on it.
RIP, Peter. In a time when horror seems to be focused more on the gross-out and the shock factor than real scares, your touch of gentlemanly class is sorely missed, now more than ever.