2013 marks the centenary of Peter Cushing’s birth. To honour this, we present six of his best performances.
The Flesh and the Fiends
John Gilling | UK | 1960 | 97 minutes
Cushing plays Dr Knox in this film about Edinburgh’s own Burke and Hare, with support from Donald Pleasance as Hare and assured direction from horror specialist John ‘Plague of the Zombies‘ Gilling.
The Brides of Dracula
Terence Fisher | UK | 1960 | 85 minutes
Vampire hunter Van Helsing (Cushing) returns to Transylvania to destroy handsome bloodsucker Baron Meinster, who has designs on beautiful young schoolteacher Marianne.
Cash on Demand
Quentin Lawrence | UK | 1962 | 66 minutes
A charming but ruthless criminal (Andre Morell) holds the family of a bank manager (Cushing) hostage as part of a cold-blooded plan to steal 97,000 pounds in this re-imagining of A Christmas Carol.
Captain Clegg AKA Night Creatures
Peter Graham Scott | UK | 1962 | 80 minutes
In this engaging costume melodrama of skulduggery on the low seas set back in the 18th-century, the Royal Crown suspects a bit of smuggling is going on in this locale, and they send Captain Collier (Patrick Allen) and his crew to check it out. As the Captain gets into his investigation, mysterious swamp phantoms cloud up the real issue which seems plain enough to see. Captain Collier suspects that the odd village vicar, the Reverend Dr Blyss (Peter Cushing) might be hiding something, and what better way to do that than by fortuitous ghosts to scare away the curious, or by posing as someone he is not? Solid support comes from the likes of Jack MacGowran, Michael Ripper and Oliver Reed.
Cushing’s enthusiasm for the role was such that he sketched detailed costume designs for his character and scripted an unrealised sequel.
Frankenstein Created Woman
Terence Fisher | UK | 1967 | 86 minutes
The fourth of Hammer’s Frankenstein cycle and the third directed by Terence Fisher sees the good doctor experiment with the transplantation of souls, making a creature with a woman’s body and a man’s mind. Martin Scorsese identifies this as one of his favourite Hammer films.
The Creeping Flesh
Freddie Francis | UK | 1973 | 94 minutes
Cushing and Christopher Lee play two half brothers interested in a fossilised skeleton that may present a cure for evil. Directed by horror stalwart Freddie Francis, the film is replete with dubious subtexts and symbolism, the detached phallic finger of the skeleton becoming larger after absorbing water…
Eugenio Martín | UK / Spain | 1973 | 90 minutes
In 1906, in China, Professor Alexander Saxton (Christopher Lee) discovers an ancient frozen fossil in the remote Province of Szechuan. He brings the remains of the being in a box to Shanghai and boards a trans-Siberian train, where he meets his acquaintance Dr. Wells (Cushing). During the trip, a life force trapped in the frozen creature is released, killing and stealing the memories of the passengers.
Think The Thing on a train, with Telly Savalas as a Cossack.
Ken Wiederhorn | USA | 1977 | 85 minutes
Cushing plays a Nazi scientist responsible for creating virtually unstoppable Nazi zombies.