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In the end of the Nineteenth Century, the aristocrat Edward Markham is disfigured by sorcery in Africa by the natives. His brother Julian Markham brings him back to the Markham Manor in England and keeps him prisoner in the attic. The mad Edward asks his lawyer Trench and his partner to bring the African sorcerer N'Galo in secret to heal him but Julian does not allow any contact with his brother. Trench and N'Galo simulate the death of Edward to remove him from the attic in a coffin. However, body snatchers bring his body to the unscrupulous Dr. Newhartt for his research. Edward offers a large amount to Dr. Newhartt to stay hidden in his house and wears a crimson hood to hide his face. When Edward goes to the town, his mask brings problem to him and he begins a series of murders. When he finally meets N'Galo, he finds why the natives have deformed him and he seeks revenge. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Michael Reeves was originally chosen to direct this movie, but was replaced by Gordon Hessler during the pre-production. Shooting began November 18, and was completed in December, two months before Reeves died in February 1969. See more »
When Sir Edward murders Heidi the prostitute, the special effects knife clearly sprays blood onto the actresses' neck well before it actually touches her. See more »
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This 1969 film heralded the first on-screen teaming of Vincent Price and Christopher Lee - shamefully, they only get one scene together (why couldn't the film-makers of the time put the horror masters together in a film successfully?).
Despite being beseiged by production problems - the writer Lawrence Huntington died shortly after completing the script and the original director, Michael Reeves was replaced by Gordon Hesler, due to his dependence on drugs and suicidal tendencies (he actually committed suicide in February 1969) - the film has a very eerie and atmospheric feel to it.
The plot is guilty of becoming too involved for its own good, but given there is always a general understanding of what is going on, the film does not suffer. Indeed, the period atmosphere is well-maintained and is supplemented by plenty of suspense and shock, not least due to the large content of scenes taking place during nightfall.
We are also cleverly kept guessing as to what Edward Markham's face is really like under the scarlet hood, and since this naturally becomes a preoccupation with the viewer, one is entitled to expect a horrific revelation at the end. It does come and depending on what you pre-judge his face to look like, I was not particularly disappointed!
Vincent Price and Christopher Lee's characterisations are not that pivotal and their performances tend to be just enough to carry the film through - they are really secondary, in a film stolen by Alister Williamson as the revenge killer.
Nevertheless, this film is well-worth a look, mainly due to it's originality and ambition.
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