Crucible of Horror (1971) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
37 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
One of Michael Gough's lesser known masterpieces...
manchester_england200417 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
THE CORPSE is one of Michael Gough's almost entirely unknown masterpieces. In fact the film is so unknown that one is only likely to come across it by accident on the IMDb like I did.

Unlike most horror films, where the villains are monsters, vampires or masked serial killers, this film focuses around a typical British upper middle-class family. The plot line seems straightforward – a cruel and sadistic man is murdered by his wife and daughter, and the murder is made to look like suicide. But, all is not what it seems as is revealed later in the film. The body mysteriously keeps disappearing and reappearing in different places, and disconnected phone lines suddenly become reconnected. I won't give away the ending not because I believe it would spoil the film, but because I don't understand it.

As another reviewer has pointed out, the film creates a chilling atmosphere through the use of suspenseful music, dream sequences, flashbacks and psychological violence. In fact, it is the psychological torment that the father inflicts on both his wife and daughter that makes the film disturbing. Only one major scene of actual violence is shown in the film and that is the one where the father beats his daughter with a riding crop as a punishment for stealing money. And this scene isn't explicit. The scene cuts to and from the bedroom where the daughter is being beaten in a very-paced scene, which makes the scene more disturbing as the audience is left to ponder over what is happening. It is one of the best scenes I have seen in a horror film.

The acting is top notch. Michael Gough excels in what is perhaps his best performance as the ultra-conservative, cruel, sadistic patriarch Walter Eastwood. Yvonne Mitchell is also brilliant as his psychologically tormented wife, Edith. Even Sharon Gurney gives a great performance as Eastwood's daughter, Jane. Sadly, the excellent performances provided by these stars did not seem to open doors to other similar projects at the time. Michael Gough spent the rest of the decade making trashy films such as HORROR HOSPITAL. Yvonne Mitchell made only a couple of films before her untimely demise in 1979. And Sharon Gurney's future career was mostly restricted to television before seemingly disappearing completely from acting in 1973.

The audience gets a real feel for the characters, particularly Edith and Jane, through the use of dream sequences and flashbacks that delve into their thoughts. The introduction of the sequence showing Walter Eastwood at the exterior of the house in the garden before going inside almost acts as an invitation to the audience to see what is happening in this seemingly ordinary household. The film starts with a few references to suggest that Walter Eastwood is an over-protective father. But as each scene progresses, he starts to reveal his true colours, and the audience can clearly see that he is more than a little over-protective. The impact of his cruelty is unbelievable. The audience can almost feel the tears about to come out of Jane's eyes in a scene where she witnesses Eastwood reading one of her private letters at the family dinner table before proceeding to tear it up smugly without even showing it to her.

Those who only know Michael Gough as Alfred the Butler from the Batman films of the 1990s would certainly be in for a surprise if they saw this film.

The ending seems to be the one thing that lets the film down. It is perhaps the most confusing I have ever seen.

I give the film 8 out of 10 for an excellent effort by both the crew and the actors.
15 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Alfred the butler is from hell!
keeponwithbrian6 September 2003
Not to be confused with the 1972 horror film about wax museums called Crucible of Terror; This is Crucible of Horror (1970) - British title: The Corpse. The film stars Michael Gough (Alfred from the Batman films) as Walter Eastwood - a wealthy, cruel & sadistic husband and father. Yvonne Mitchell plays Edith, the poor unfortunate woman who's basically lost her soul being married to Walter. Their children are Jane (Sharon Gurney) and Rupert (played by Gough's real life son, Simon). Walter consistently abuses Jane and praises Rupert. In one frightening scene, Walter beats Jane with a reed for stealing money from a friend of his. Rupert is the only one with a reasonably normal relationship with Walter - and why shouldn't he be? Walter puts his son on a pedestal and abuses his wife and daughter mentally and physically. The point of the film is that Edith and Jane reach their breaking point and decide to end their abuse by putting an end to Walter. So they poison him and make it look like a suicide. Then they have to worry about keeping it from Rupert. Things don't go exactly as planned. I won't dare ruin the outcome of this suspenseful british classic. If your a fan of the best Hammer films and horror of the late 60s and 70s, I highly recommend seeking Crucible of Horror out. There is something about this film, the music, the cinematography, etc., that creates a chilling atmosphere. Turn the lights out when you watch this. You'll never see Alfred the butler in the same way again!
25 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Claustrophobic,dark tale of revenge.
NvllBswll11 March 2002
Really a very good example of British repression.Michael Gough is a bullying sadistic father of "Jane" (played by the young and beautiful Sharon Gurney, daughter of English actress Rachel Gurney).The actors are top drawer and the script by Olaf Pooley is tight and suitably grim. The seemingly genteel facade of a respectable English family is ripped aside. The girl and her mother plot the ultimate revenge on Gough--but do they manage it? You'll have to try and track down this mini-gem to discover what happens. Or does it? Some exploitation of young Gurney with Gough playing some sort of nasty escapade with her whilst she is nude in a river - quite a revealing scene - and then a scene in her bedroom at night when he shows up with a thin cane and bends her over the vanity for a ferocious beating. Nice work also by Yvonne Mitchell as the worldweary mother who sees all and says little. She has a plan, though. If can find this one, buy it.
15 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
atmospheric and spooky
staytherelass21 August 2002
Michael Gough is his creepy best as a sadistic man whose wife and daughter plot to kill him.But is he really dead?With more than a nod to DIOBOLIQUE this movie kinda creeps to an ambiguous(to me,anyway)end.I liked it.
14 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Under Appreciated British Shocker
Squonkamatic11 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I've always enjoyed this film, better known under the export title CRUCIBLE OF HORROR than the more descriptive British release title THE CORPSE. Nearly every Gothic horror fan over the age of 30 will remember seeing it on a local late nite creature feature at some point, where it would play along such related fare as CONQUEROR WORM or IT! with the rampaging Golem, though it's more of a psychological drama rather than a full-blown horror outing. But while it may seem slow there isn't a wasted or unnecessary scene in the whole film, which is essentially an update on DIABOLIQUE with a dysfunctional British family dynamic instead of a boarding school.

CRUCIBLE centers on priceless British character actor Michael Gough as the tyrannical, sadistic patriarch of a staid British family. He's the kind of guy who unwinds after a long day by putting on a shirt & a tie to work on the gardening for a bit, then psychologically tortures his long suffering wife and daughter over a thoroughly unappetizing looking dinner. Then maybe a glass of sherry and take the riding crop to the daughter for no good reason. The guy is stuffy, uptight, demented, weird, and heartless, which is all we need to know about him, and Gough does a magnificent job of making us hate his guts.

His son Rupert plays along with the old man, seeming to get a kick out of the mental abuse hurled at his sibling & mum, and in my opinion is the most twisted character in the drama. He works at the insurance firm with his father and likewise relaxes around the house in his tweeds, the two men driven spare by things like a random Kleenex on the night table or the family guns in slight disarray. Their off-hours consist of an endless pursuit of wrongdoings by the women of the house, who in due course get sick of it and plot a murder.

One interesting aspect of the movie that I don't see others raise is the question of who is more evil: The domineering, abusive, sociopathic men of the house, or the women who grind up a bottle of sleeping pills, blend them in with a bottle of cognac and force it down someone's gullet with the aid of a huge funnel? The movie then picks up a bit of steam when the (apparently) dead body first disappears and then begins turning up in odd, inconvenient places at just the wrong moment, say when the nosy neighbor turns up with his bloodhound wondering where the old man has been. A great deal of time is spent with the two women fretting out the night, wondering what will happen next, raising the interesting question of just who is playing whom here, and is there some supernatural force at play or are they just inept killers?

What works with the film is an almost unbearable sense of claustrophobia, comprehensive creepiness and dread, as well as Gough's delightfully nasty performance as the emotionless father. What doesn't work is one of the standard complaints about British horror from the period in which it was made: There are no real fireworks in terms of violence, gore or sexuality. Instead the film's perversity is suggested by a serious of flashbacks & dream sequences that seem to imply a forced incestuous relationship and spousal abuse, all of which is brimming under the surface while never really being elaborated upon. The audience's own polymorphously perverse nature is projected onto the film by such grimace inducing scenes as a father feeling his daughter's bicycle seat to see if it's still warm (ewww!) and a mother regarding her son with quiet resignation after witnessing him slapping around his sister.

And while it isn't very shocking the final climactic scene is one of the strangest sequences in the subgenre of British horror, raising more questions than it answers -- was anybody really murdered at all? If not then why did a particular character go through so much bother to creep everybody out? Was there some sort of a plot in works even before the ladies hatched their murder scheme? And was that a calculated part of this greater plan? The film succeeds by not answering any of these questions and closing on a great Hitchcokian downbeat that would have been undone by having somebody explain what may or may not have happened. Hitchcock would have approved.

12 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Spooky, long forgotten British chiller
Leofwine_draca14 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This spooky little chiller has zero budget and lots of effect. The ever-dependable Michael Gough puts in a thoroughly nasty turn as a tyrannical husband who enjoys whipping his daughter and subjecting his family to a reign of terror. The atmosphere at the dinner table in this nightmarish family is palpable; and I'm sure far too close to home for some viewers.

Yet another forgotten gem of British cinema, this is a highly effective little film which has the powerful ability to scare if you watch it alone at night with the lights out (like I did). An atmosphere is built up thick with growing dread as the film progresses, and when Gough is murdered, it reaches breaking point. The build-up makes all the shock scenes all the more frightening when they do occur, even if they are rather clichéd some of the time (yes, it's the branch crashing through window scare again!).

What it may lack in budget and special effects this film more than makes up with ambition. A tight script keeps things moving along nicely and roots the film firmly in reality, but it's the acting which really makes this film stand out. Apart from Gough's awesome performance, Yvonne Mitchell is a picture of grief and despair, while Sharon Gurney gives a multi-layered character to her Jane. It's a very slow-moving film, but worth it, as when the ghostly things start to happen, they're in the league of things like THE HAUNTING OF JULIA: small, seemingly insignificant things happen, yet they're absolutely terrifying (I especially liked the bit where characters are ringing a house only to realise they unplugged the phone while they were there). The twist ending is pretty disturbing too; I urge all fans of more psychological-orientated horror to track this film down as it's definitely worth it.
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Feminist's Nightmare
BloodTheTelepathicDog17 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Might be spoilers This film focuses on the odd relationship of an affluent British family that could easily be described as "dysfunctional." The mother (Mitchell) locks herself away in the house to work on her paintings, the father is obsessed with order and cleanliness, the son is his old man's lap dog and the daughter (Gurney) is the oddest of the lot. After father (Michael Gough) is informed that his daughter has robbed the country club's golf shop, he beats her with a bit of wood. The following morning mother and daughter decide to rid themselves of the domineering patriarch.

The women refuse to attend the family's weekend retreat at their isolated cottage so father heads out by himself for some hunting and relaxation while his son Rupert (SImon Gough) stays in the city to hobnob with clients. The cottage becomes a sanctuary for daddy who hunts birds and listens to classical music without the intrusion of his irrational female family members. But the two dames show up unexpectedly with intentions of poisoning dear old dad and setting up the scene as a suicide. But the women's plans were not well thought out and when they return to the cottage, believing that they killed the old man, they find his bed neatly made and his corpse missing.

STORY: $$$$$ (Olaf Poolay writes a very strong story with exceptional characterization. This is a real horror movie that focuses on the inner terror rather than an outwardly psycho with a hatchet. What begins as a sort of a feminist's dream--women standing up for themselves and demanding personal freedom--evolves into a statement on female irrationality. The two women yearn for the shackles of the man's world to be removed but once they are taken off, they have no direction--no purpose. I can see how women could hate this movie).

ACTING: $$$$ (The acting is top notch all around. Michael Gough is brilliant as the father. He expertly plays this demanding character and the viewer gets the sense that he has started a family not because he wanted a wife and children but because that is what is expected of respectable men. He is far more content alone at his cottage and even busying himself at work than he is around his wife and daughter, who are a constant source of annoyance. Yvonne Mitchell is equally strong as the passive mother who devises the plan to murder Michael Gough but needs the support of her daughter to carry it off. Sharon Gurney showed quite a bit of talent as the eccentric daughter but her career never took off. She does a stellar job with the tortured, misunderstood young lady role).

NUDITY: $$ (Very little here. There are a few breast flashes from Sharon Gurney but nothing gratuitous. She is shown skinny-dipping in a creek when Michael Gough catches her and beats her. It is his goal to make certain that she doesn't fall for some "shaggy-haired lay-about.")
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Bears a passing resemblance
rsbrandt21 January 2002
Those with long memories might notice this film borrows more than a little from DIABOLIQUE, if not necessarily in a good way. Despite a nasty caning and attempted murder this is more about psychological torment than physical violence; the lasting impression is that typical English family life is enough to drive anyone to murder or bonkers, in that order. One of the seemingly endless string of potboilers that Michael Gough used to liven up, back in the day.
14 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Let's kill him.
lastliberal-853-25370814 January 2014
AKA Crucible of Horror, this movie is a psychological thriller about a sadistic husband and father who plays cruel mental and physical games with his family. When the mother and daughter (Sharon Gurney) have finally decided that they've had enough, they turn the tables on this brutal bully and give him a taste of his own medicine.

For tight, merciless tension and venom, this bloodless movie is uncommonly effective and engrossing. Sharon Gurney is also engrossingly naked, however briefly.

It is one of those films that would be enjoyed by those who grew up on VHS cassettes, but younger views who do not have low budget experience will likely find it tedious.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Crucible of Horror
Scarecrow-882 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
An abusive man(Michael Gough, never failing to serve us someone to easily despise) is supposedly poisoned by his long-suffering wife and daughter who decide to kill him after having stomached enough of his vitriol and corrosive personality. The question is did they truly poison him enough to finish the job? I must admit that "Crucible of Horror" tested my patience; it is the very epitome of slow-moving. The plot takes quite a while to get to the *murder* of Michael Gough (truly a jerk, but his wife and offspring, including a well-treated, spoiled weakling son, aren't exactly saints), 45 minutes, to be exact. We are treated to the tension and misery prevalent inside this family household. "Crucible of Horror" utilizes the oft-used "perfect murder" scenario where a calculated murder doesn't go according to plan, with complicated results for those responsible. Circumstances such as a friend of Walter's coming over to the cottage while the two were hiding the corpse, worried that he will discover what they are up to, finding the body (they had placed Walter's corpse in his bed) in a different place, and listening to the cottage phone ring despite the fact that the cord was unplugged. There's nothing here you haven't seen on "Columbo" or "Matlock", though, and the stories on those shows moved at a better pace, without the lethargy. I do think the film sets the stage well; we feel, right from the get-go, that this family is on the verge of collapse, Walter creating the contempt that exists between father/husband and the ladies under his roof. We get the "disposing of body" scene that may or may not have a chest containing the corpse of Walter, as well as, the aftermath which follows the guilt-ridden mother and daughter, plagued with paranoia that they might not have gotten rid of the tormentor. The conclusion is a depressing one offering the possibility that the tormented may never have freedom from their oppression. God is Gough good at portraying repellent assholes; in this film he really gets under the skin, just his pompous stare and air of superiority are enough to warrant sympathy for those looked down on. The cast is really solid, with Sharon Gurney (probably best remembered for "Raw Meat") as Jane, the daughter who gets a switch beating for stealing and Yvonne Mitchell as the weary, browbeaten wife who seems to have lost her personality after years of living with such a tyrant as Walter. Simon Gough, I believe, elicits bad will from a viewing audience because of his heralded stature in the family, his father's favor the reason we loathe this young man—his Rupert seems oblivious to what his father has done to the other members of the family. There's a prevailing sense of sadness that is palpable, not to mention, the ending provides an even worse feeling of hopelessness.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Worth seeing
lazarillo12 July 2006
Just as "Psycho" would inspire any number of American movies, the contemporary French thriller "Diabolique" would influence any number of European movies. This movie is a decidedly British and more familial version of that film. In "Diabolique" a brutal and abusive man's wife and mistress decide to bump him off. In this one it is a mother and daughter trying to do in their cruel husband/father (the relationship between the father and daughter is especially twisted--he seems to enjoy whipping her, he slaps her around after he catches her swimming nude, and he likes to feel her bicycle seat after she's just been riding it). The pair surprise him out at the cabin where he's doing some hunting and force him to drink poison, hoping that his friends will find him and think he died of natural causes. Their plans go awry though for various reasons, not the least of which is that the "body" keeps disappearing and appearing.

If you've seen "Diabolique" you know that there's a good chance that the father isn't really dead, and there's also a good chance he has at least one co-conspirator. Fortunately, this movie doesn't follow the plot of "Diabolique" too slavishly, and it has quite a few surprises up its sleeve. The end is very memorable. Michael Gough, who plays the abusive father, really makes the movie. He is very creepy both alive and "dead" projecting a subtle but powerful air of menace. (Unfortunately, most people today remember him as the butler in "Batman", not as the cruel villain he played in movies like this or "Horror of the Black Museum"). Sharon Gurney, who plays the daughter, is also good, but she had the misfortune of appearing two critically regarded but commercially unsuccessful horror flicks (this one and "Raw Meat") and her career went nowhere.

Unfortunately, the available prints of this movie look awful. The video is a mess and the DVD looks like a DVD-R recorded from the video by someone who doesn't know how to use a DVD recorder. It's also advertised on the front cover like its another version of "The Stepfather" (also a good movie, but a very different one)which is bound to attract the wrong audience. It's worth seeing though if you get a chance and you know what to expect.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Corpse Vanishes
sol121811 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
**SPOILERS** A bit uneven but still interesting family drama with an overly strict father Walter Eastwood, Michael Gough, who's constant mistreatment of the women of his household his wife and daughter Edith and Jane, Yavnnoe Mitchell and Sharon Gurney, leads them to a plan and later make an attempt on his life.

We see earlier in the film how Walter's daughter drives him batty both with her screwing around and her kleptomania. Jane stealing of money from the local Golf Club has the club's manager Gregson, David Butler, show up at the Eastwood residence asking Walter for the money that she took. Gregson also seemed to have something going with the 16 year-old Jane that had nothing to do with putting a golf ball.

We later see that Jane also has something going on with local grease monkey Benjy, Nicholas Jones, who also has the hots for her but only from a distance. Later Walter, after Jane swore that she didn't steal the club's money, finds the stolen money in Jane's wig he gives her the beating of her life.

Even though we never see Walter abuse his wife Edith physically he does treat her as if she's a bit mad. Which we later find out that she is. Later Edith and Jane concoct a plan to murder Walter when he goes out to his country cottage hunting that weekend.

The "plan" doesn't go off well but in the end the two do in the overly drunk, which they made sure that he was, Walter. Leaving his body to be found later in bed dead from an apparent heart-attack. But later as the two murderesses don't get any call from the people that Walter was to meet hunting it's obvious that something went wrong in their hair-brained scheme.

The ending is a bit hard to take but overall the movie "The Corpes" is much better then you would have expected it to be because of the top notch acting by all involved in it, even the dog Sam did a good job of "acting". There were a number of really good dream-like sequences in the movie involving Edith that showed just who mentally unstable she was. There's also a flashback where we see Walter, again, brutally beat Jane in a lake with her almost nude.

Walter himself seemed to have this "Mister Clean" faddish where he would vigorously wash his hands every time he touched something or someone he felt had germs or dirt on it, or them. Walter's son Rupert, Simon Gough, was the only one in the family that he didn't abuse since he felt that he lived up to the very high standards that he set for his family members. Rupert was a combination insurance salesman and stock broker.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A naive but lovely thriller
grybop16 June 2001
The key-word in this movie is atmosphere. The scenario is not the most original I know, the girl that plays the daughter sucks, but the photography and the music add a lot to this movie. I can't say I was any scared when I saw it on TV, yet I couldn't help but love this simple and naive little thriller, just because it was such. 6
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Offbeat and effective British horror shocker
Woodyanders23 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The sadistic and domineering Walter Eastwood (splendidly played to the nasty and menacing hilt by Michael Gough) rules over his household with the proverbial iron fist; his browbeaten painter wife Edith (a fine performance by Yvonne Mitchell) and rebellious teenage daughter Jane (an excellent portrayal by Sharon Mitchell of "Raw Meat" fame) join forces to kill him. However, disposing of Walter's body proves to be easier said than done. Director Viktors Ritelis, working from an intriguing script by Olaf Pooley, does an expert job of creating and maintaining a profoundly grim, depressing, and claustrophobic atmosphere and firmly grounds the downbeat premise in a thoroughly plausible drab workaday reality. Moreover, Pooley's screenplay offers a compelling and provocative feminist subtext on how men do their best to control women through both physical and psychological torture and the impossibility of abused women to successfully overthrow the cruel male hierarchy. The startling moments of sudden brutal violent and underlying themes of incest and spousal abuse give this picture an extra potent emotional sting. The sturdy acting from the able cast rates as a real substantial plus: Gough excels in a tailer-made hateful bastard role, Mitchell and Gurney are both deeply sympathetic, and Simon Gough impresses as Walter's smarmy suck-up son Rupert who's completely indifferent to the women's pain and suffering. The cinematography by John Hotchkis boasts several neat stylistic flourishes. While this movie does suffer a bit from slow pacing, an overdone score, and a rather frustrating ambiguous ending, it nonetheless manages to be genuinely chilling and hence is worth a watch for fans of out of the ordinary fright fare.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
THE CORPSE (Viktors Ritelis, 1970) **
Bunuel19764 June 2006
With a plot that's heavily derivative of LES DIABOLIQUES (1954), this is one of the oddest British horror films of its time. In itself, it's watchable but not especially rewarding; there are, however, good performances from Michael Gough (playing a despicable tyrant, naturally) and lovely Sharon Gurney (in her film debut as his long-suffering daughter).

Still, its sporadic outburst of technique - rapid-fire flashbacks and dream sequences shown in negative - often doesn't work and the twist ending, practically negating everything that has gone on before, is baffling to say the least!
6 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Abysmal Incoherent Trash
moonmonday6 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This seemed a much better film in premise than it ended up being in reality. It's an absolute disaster, despite good acting from the solid main cast. The story is repellent and the main character, played well by Michael Gough, a complicated character who is nonetheless absolutely repugnant and gets what he deserves...except through some extremely contrived circumstances...well, actually I have no idea what actually was supposed to be conveyed by the final half-hour or so, because so many dead-end characters and plot points were brought up and then went nowhere and did nothing. Frankly, I don't quite see what the ending even accomplished. Were we then supposed to believe that, just because the jackass managed to cheat death once -- somehow -- that they couldn't just do the job right this time?

This was a pretty significant example of a script that desperately needed some revision. It thinks it's far more clever and poignant than it is. It only ends up being incoherent, inexplicable, and asinine; points of continuity are brought up and then, not five minutes later, are seemingly forgotten about, as if they had never happened, or contradicted by something explicitly shown. Not much actually does happen in the film, so any viewer will likely be spending more time picking out the inconsistencies and plot holes than actually appreciating any part of the film itself.

Please don't waste your time with this film. While it does have the incomparable Michael Gough, he was really and truly wasted on this piece of offal. If this film were forgotten tomorrow, nothing of value would be lost. It's a shame, because it's an interesting premise, but it is so incapably handled that it ends up being only a waste of time, and not a satisfying one in the slightest.
7 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Very "Slow Burn" Horror Film
gavin694212 October 2012
A mother (Yvonne Mitchell) and daughter (Sharon Gurley) hatch a scheme to murder their family's domineering and sadistic patriarch (Michael Gough).

What we have here is perhaps less of a horror story, and more of an odd story about women's liberation. A mother and daughter sort of team up against the father and his old-fashioned ways. Obviously, it has horror elements, but the titles "Corpse" and "Crucible of Horror" seem a bit extreme for this film.

Michael Gough, classic Hammer actor (now perhaps better known as Alfred Pennyworth), steals the show, just as he should... and I love him. What I could have done without was the use of psychedelic colors. I get it, this was the early 1970s, but still... what the heck?
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A youngish Micheal Gough plays it mean
TheHeadVampire28 February 2018
Micheal Gough (Alfred from Batman '89) does a good job at making his character unlikable. You do root for the two damsels as they bungle their way (at first) towards his murder. Speaking of the murder scene, I wasn't sure if this was played for laughs or if the the director was trying to build tension. I suppose it could have been both, in either case I enjoyed the build up. The actress who plays the daughter is very cute. We get some blink-and-you'll miss it nudity from her. The ending was a bit trippy, and felt a bit out of tone with the rest of the film. Overall, it's an enjoyable enough movie to recommend.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Sadistic Madness
Rainey-Dawn11 January 2016
This 1971 film is known as "Crucible of Horror" and "The Corpse". This is not to be confused with the 1971 film "Crucible of Terror" starring Mike Raven. Both horror films came out in 1971 and have a similar title.

Michael Gough plays Walter Eastwood - a sadistic madman towards his wife and daughter. His son Rupert Eastwood (played by Simon Gough - Michael's real life son) is just as bad. Jane and Edith Eastwood plans to murder Michael for they have grown tired of his ways.

It's a great but twisted film from start to finish. The ending of the film will leave you guessing, wondering "what just happened?" "Was is all a dream - or was it real?" This is an odd film that is worth a watch if you like evil or twisted "family secrets" type of horror movies.

2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
He had it coming. He had it coming. He only had himself to blame.
mark.waltz10 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
A wealthy man's wife and daughter plot to kill the nasty brute who is greatly abusive to the both of them. Taking this past the plot line of the cult French film "Diabolique", this brings on a horror element to a familiar plot and ties mother and daughter together in a way that binds them externally. The only real shocker is their inability to dispose of Gough's corpse as it keeps showing up again

Michael Gough, the talk and lanky British character actor, played many villains in his career, and this one is one of the most despicable. Yvonne Mitchell and Sharon Gurney give crafty but sensitive performances as two women you truly root for to get away with their crime. There's a lull between the murder and the repercussions, and with a spoiled son in danger of discovering their secret, this lull brings on a great level of suspense.

It's funny to see how much Michael Hough resembles Anthony Perkins who played his share of horror villains himself. This is more a psychological thriller than a horror movie, and for that, this really doesn't belong in horror movie DVD collections. Michael's son Simon plays his son here, although this is isn't a really large part.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Very nearly a classic, but...
canndyman22 September 2019
This had all the ingredients to be a classic film, but ultimately doesn't quite completely hit the mark. The story revolves around the daughter and wife of a dictatorial and cruel man who concoct a seemingly clever method of killing him - making it look like suicide. After quite a muddled start, the film picks up pace once we witness the uncomfortably violent beating by Walter (played by Michael Gough) on his demure and beautiful teenage daughter Jane (Sharon Gurney).

Jane and her mother Edith decide enough is enough, and hatch their plan - but could it be that Walter is already one step ahead of them?

My favorite era for British horrors is the early 70s, and this film certainly delivers with its tense atmosphere, quirky direction and colorful dream sequences. The music is good too, and helps to really punctuate the action.

There's some good countryside locations, and the bonus of Michael Gough in a memorable role - seeing him immediately brought back memories of his role as the creepy butler in the first Hammer Dracula movie more than ten years earlier.

But the film ultimately belongs to Sharon Gurney, who gives an amazingly understated and moving performance as the troubled victim Jane. Besides being a beautiful 'English Rose', she has a wonderful screen-presence and charm, and as a viewer you desperately want her to triumph and find some happiness and peace away from her father.

The film builds well to a tense and unexpected climax - but ultimately the viewer is left feeling rather short-changed by an inexplicable and abstruse final scene - one which left me completely befuddled!

But, this aside, it is still a very enjoyable film for lovers of this genre, and it's a pity it doesn't seem to be more highly regarded than it maybe is.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Horrible "horror" film
preppy-320 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Michael Gough plays a man who routinely berates his wife and his daughter--sometimes even beating them. They've had enough, kill him and dump the body. However they start realizing that they may have not killed him...or is it his vengeful ghost coming to take revenge?

Yup--it's a British redo of the French classic "Diabolique". As with most remakes this is pretty terrible. There's absolutely no reason to remake "Diabolique" at all. Over here in the US it was remade AGAIN in 1996. That version was bad but this is much much worse. It's slow, dull, poorly directed and thoroughly predictable. Also the ending is handled so badly that most people won't have a clue as to what just happened! It has a great cast (Michael Gough is magnificent as usual) but it's just so poorly made you won't care. Unless you're dying to see every ripoff of "Diabolique" you can safely skip this.
7 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A diabolical Les Diaboliques rip-off.
BA_Harrison27 April 2016
Housewife Edith Eastwood (Yvonne Mitchell) decides to rid herself of her cruel, domineering husband Walter (Michael Gough), enlisting the help of her wayward teenage daughter Jane (Sharon Gurney, who looks more than a little like Emma Watson to me, and who provides the film with a little gratuitous nudity). Together, the pair carry out a scheme to poison Walter, but are shocked when his body mysteriously vanishes, only to repeatedly turn up in the most unlikely of places.

British chiller Crucible of Horror blatantly uses French horror classic Les Diaboliques (1955) as its template, but fails to achieve that film's level of atmosphere or nail-biting suspense, a dreary pace and just a little too much horribly dated '70s psychedelia making it a less than satisfying experience. The film also manages to completely fluff the ending, delivering a 'WTF?' final act that will leave the viewer wondering if they have somehow accidentally restarted the film. My guess is that everything we have seen in the film has been wishful thinking on the part of the browbeaten wife, a broken woman's daily fantasy; if that is the case, then it's a massive cop-out. If I'm wrong, then the director's real intent is difficult to fathom. Either way, the film is a dud.

3.5 out of 10, rounded up to 4 for Gough, who plays the role of British bastard to perfection.
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
How could you make this film THAT dull?!
MartinHafer28 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
"Even when they talk about murdering someone, they are BORING!". That is what my daughter said when she gave up and left the room while watching "The Corpse"...and frankly, I can't blame her. After all, this is supposed to be a scary film but it turned out to be very talky and tepid. Often the creepy music is more interesting than the action (or lack thereof) in this movie.

Michael Gough plays the very, very controlling and angry head of a stuffy British family. He intimidates, demeans and abuses his family. As for the daughter, he lashes her brutally (there sure is an interesting sexual undertone to this). And the wife is like a whipped puppy. Eventually, the two have had enough and decide to kill the guy. What happens next? The body disappears! Now doesn't all that SOUND fantastic to watch? Yep...but it wasn't. Dull, talky and poorly acted in several cases. This is just a bad film and should be avoided unless you like dull films....dull, dull, dull. Did I mention that it was dull?!
5 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
"I'm not bloody interested in what you should say."
classicsoncall22 March 2020
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this film under the title "Crucible of Horror". To be clear, a crucible does make it's appearance in the early going when Jane Eastwood (Sharon Gurney) mixes some sort of potion, then it's never to be seen again. Like many reviewers on this board, I too sensed a similarity to the 1955 French film "Diabolique". However that picture was a masterful story of suspense that kept you on the edge of your seat for a final resolution. Here, when the dead Walter Eastwood (Michael Gough) turns up near the end of the story, you wind up scratching your head as to what you just watched for almost an hour and a half. Was it a dream, or a hallucination on the part of wife Edith Eastwood (Yvonne Mitchell)? There were certainly enough nightmarish sequences as part of Edith's reveries to suggest some sort of tragic outcome. Instead, the tragic outcome is that director Victors Ritelis didn't really provide one. Nevertheless the film did inspire a humorous moment to my mind, strictly as a matter of timing for catching the picture. With all the hand washing Walter Eastwood did, you would think he was trying to avoid the corona virus.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed