From Satan’s goatee onwards, facial hair has long been the hallmark of all great villians. Peter Cushing grew some of the best.
As I sit here stroking my own newly-cultivated beard, I am pondering all the great movie monsters who have been happily hirsute and one that comes to mind is Peter Cushing.
Cushing, who is celebrating his 100th birthday this week, was a movie chameleon. He wasn’t afraid to don a silly wig for a role a la Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, and he sure wasn’t adverse to growing a mustache or sprouting a beard to create a scary hairy character.
Here’s some great Cushing characters with facial foliage:
Major Holly in She (1965): Bernard Cribbens is an amazing actor. But would his performance in She (1965) been better had he matched Peter Cushing’s full action man beard?
Dr Schreck from Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (1965): The Doc’s questionable accent notwithstanding, Cushing’s peppered beard brings class to the first of Amicus’ portmanteau films.
Tales from the Crypt (1972) saw Peter Cushing’s character of Arthur Grimsdyke leaving his razor at home when he got his own back on those who wronged him with this Albert Steptoe-type of stubbly beard.
Timelords nowadays generally avoid facial hair, probably because of the bad reputation given to face fuzz by The Master, played deliciously by Roger Delgado in the 1970s. But Peter Cushing wasn’t afraid to sport a crumb catcher for his outings as The Doctor in Doctor Who and the Daleks (1965) and Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D (1966).
And talking of Doctor Who – check out this scene from Cushing’s most outrageously mo-mentous mo-ment as Dr Namaroffin in The Gorgon (1964). Doctor Who Number Two, Patrick Troughton, looks particularly unimpressed at Pete’s facial folly, which can’t seem to work out whether it’s a wide mustache or huge sideburns that meet in the middle.
Honourable Mention: While Cushing had only a slight ‘tache in 1974’s From Beyond the Grave, his character’s eyebrows deserve an article all to themselves.
UPDATE (30/5/2013): Here’s another one I just found – I could I have forgotten Cushing as Wazir Al Wuzara with his over-the-top mutton chops in Arabian Adventure (1979)? Pete’s seen here with Christopher Lee sprouting a much more disciplined soup strainer.
That’s just some of the finest hairy and scary performances by Peter Cushing with a furry face. Have we missed any? Please put your comments below.