Kenneth Magee (Desi Arnaz, Jr.) is a writer whose newest book has just been published. At lunch he gets into a conversation with his publisher, Sam Allyson (Richard Todd), about classic gothic novels such as Wuthering Heights. Kenneth says that that kind of writing isn’t special and that he can write a gothic style novel in 24 hours. He bets Sam $20,000 to that effect; he just needs a quiet place to write it. Sam says he has an acquaintance that owns a deserted manor in Wales that would suit his purposes. The phonetic spelling of the Welsh estate is called Baldpate Manor.
Kenneth arrives at the manor and settles down to write. Hearing a noise, he goes to investigate. He finds two elderly people that claim to be the caretakers. Then an old hag shows up. Kenneth is suspicious of her. He unmasks her and finds out she is Mary Norton (Julie Peasgood), his publisher’s secretary. Soon more people arrive, each with their own key.
Eventually Kenneth learns that the caretakers are really the original owners of the estate, Lord Grisbane (John Carradine) and his daughter Victoria (Sheila Keith). Two of the other arrivals with keys are Lord Grisbane’s sons, Lionel (Vincent Price), and Sebastian (Peter Cushing). They say they are there for a family reunion. Not long after that a man named Corrigan (Christopher Lee) arrives stating that he is buying the manor.
In due course the Grisbanes reveal more family secrets. It seems that forty years ago a third son, Roderick, at the age of fourteen, got a village girl pregnant and then killed her. The family decided to handle the problem themselves. They sentenced him to forty years of solitary confinement in a locked room of the manor. They have gathered to release Roderick from his sentence. When they unlock the room, they find that Roderick has escaped and is roaming around the grounds.
Soon after that a young couple, Andrew Caulder (Richard Hunter) and his wife Diana (Louise English) show up looking for refuge from the storm raging outside. It’s not long before the members of the household begin to be murdered in grizzly fashion. But the sins of the Grisbane family go far deeper than anyone realizes.
“House of the Long Shadows” was released in 1983 and was directed by Pete Walker. It is a British horror comedy loosely based on Earl Derr Biggers' 1913 novel “Seven Keys to Baldpate”. The book was adapted into a stage play, by George M. Cohen, as well as several films, from a silent film in 1917 to a sound one in 1947.
Having seen George M. Cohen and Richard Dix in the role of Magee, Desi Arnaz Jr. is a bit unimpressive. He’s not bad, just OK. Fortunately, the rest of the iconic cast more than makes up for it. Although they all have great parts, Vincent Price managed to score the juiciest, over the top one of all. Just about everything that comes out of his mouth is a Shakespearian style soliloquy. Although it takes a long time to get to him, he basically steals every scene he is in.
This is the only film where classic horror stars Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and John Carradine star together. Toss in every horror movie trope ever invented and the result is a fun and nostalgic trip down memory lane.