When his brother disappears, Robert Manning pays a visit to the remote country house he was last heard from. While his host is outwardly welcoming - and his niece more demonstrably so - ...
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John Llewellyn Moxey
When his brother disappears, Robert Manning pays a visit to the remote country house he was last heard from. While his host is outwardly welcoming - and his niece more demonstrably so - Manning detects a feeling of menace in the air with the legend of Lavinia Morley, Black Witch of Greymarsh, hanging over everything. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
The last film to feature 'Boris Karloff' which was released during his lifetime. See more »
After the firemen turn on the water valves on the fire engine they take the ladder on wheels to the house. However when they cross over the hose pipes you can see that they lie flat on the ground so clearly no water is running through them. See more »
This movie was one of the very last accomplishments of the legendary Boris Karloff (not quite sure if those Mexican junk movies were shot before this one but they definitely remained shelved until after his death) and reportedly he got really ill shortly after or even during the shooting of "Curse of the Crimson Altar". If this is a true fact, it definitely gives the film some sort of sour aftertaste. With a career like his, Boris Karloff should have enjoyed a well-deserved retirement instead of catching pneumonia on draughty film sets at the age of 82. On the other hand, of course, "Curse of the Crimson Altar" wouldn't have been half as good if it weren't for him. It already isn't much of a highlight in the genre, but Karloff's presence (along with three others horror veterans) provides an extra dimension of horror greatness.
This is one of the Tigon Production Company's more mediocre efforts completely incomparable to "The Witchfinder General" and "Blood on Satan's Claw" but still a remotely entertaining Brit-horror flick containing all the traditional ingredients, such as witchery, torture devices, old mansions with secret passageways, ritual sacrifices and psychedelic hallucination sequences. The plot revolves on an antique dealer (and ladies' man!) who heads out to the countryside in search for his mysteriously vanished brother. He arrives in a remote little town during the annual memorial of the legendary witch Lavinia Morley's burning. Mr. Manning is exaggeratedly welcomed at first, but he gradually senses something strange and sinister has happened to his brother in the mansion he's staying. When he then begins to suffer from vivid nightmares involving Lavinia herself, he realizes his name is historically linked to the witch and that he's been put under a sardonic curse.
Apart from the cast, "Curse of the Crimson Altar" benefices the most from its occasionally very moody atmosphere, the eerie scenery and the impressively staged witchery sequences. Even though these scenes might appear a little silly overall (what with the bodybuilders wearing leather S&M outfits), but they're still definitely a joy to watch when you're a fan of old-fashioned Gothic horror. Barbara Steele is underused and extremely typecast as the malignant Lavinia, but what the heck, even with her face painted green and ridiculously over-sized goat horns on her head, she still remains a luscious beauty. Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee (in their second teaming after "Corridors of Blood") are wonderful together, but the still heavily underrated Michael Gough shines as the weird and mentally unstable Elder. Unfortunately, however, the shoddy script contains too many holes and improbabilities, and director Vernon Sewell lacks the talent and horror knowledge to cover these up.
One last and perhaps interesting little trivia detail; although entirely devoid of humor otherwise, "Curse of the Crimson Altar" features one intentionally wit and unsubtle inside joke. Whilst talking about the old and secluded mansion, the main character mentions something in the lines of "I expect Boris Karloff to walk in at any moment" and in fact he does only a couple of minutes later. He rolls in, to be exact, since he plays a wheelchair bound character.
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